I decided to change up the format a little this week and will be focusing on one album from the week’s new releases. I will occasionally throw in more suggestions but they won’t have as lengthy of write ups.
King Tuff - The Other
It is hard to determine what I like more, the story behind King Tuff’s The Other or the album itself. Kyle Thomas’ music project has been releasing music for some time now but none of it has been more well thought out and dutifully crafted as this album.
Thomas wrote an introduction to the album(which you can see below) on his website that serves as a primer for the album. I can not suggest reading this enough before jumping in as the album’s first track is a lengthy 6 minute song that takes you on the journey described in it. If you are not familiar with him getting through the long soft spoken narrative about finding and reclaiming his creative spirit is kind of a big ask but on the other side of it is a wonderful album.
From the first note of the bassline on Raindrop Blue The Other harkens back to classic musical tones and styles, it's like listening to your parent’s record collection in the best way. The album overall sounds like it’s straight out of the 70s, combined with the technological advancements since then it really captures the listener. The aforementioned Raindrop Blue is a funky tune complete with saxophone and high pitched vocals that will have anyone at the very least instinctually bobbing their head. The dichotomy from the opening track to this one is an immediate example of how good Tuffy can be. He further demonstrates his talents by following up with a beautiful ballad about losing a loved one, which he has said his is favorite song on the album. The highlight of the album might well be the symphony of keys and bass that is Psycho Star. It is Another groovy track that is as sonically fantastic as it’s lyrics are bleak. It is a prime example of the higher production quality on The Other than we’ve heard from King Tuff in the past. The album is an intentional dramatic turn from the garage sound he has normally put out and the intricacies of every song are incredible.
In a nice essay written for The Line of Best Fit, Thomas gives a little more insight to his process on this album. He writes about how he bought a bunch of equipment he did not know how to use and set out to just play with it. He sees the cynicism in our modern world, as is apparent on track like Circuits in the Sand, and thinks our best tool to fight it is giving into our inner child that wants to play and experiment. This experimenting lead him to perform almost everything on this album with two exceptions, drums(Ty Segall) and mixing(Shawn Everett), and if his point was to fail he did horrible because it is great. I am sure there were growing pains throughout this process and not everything sounded as good as the final release until Everett was through but turds can only be polished so much. Meaning that Thomas did so improbably well with all his recording on his first try that it is kind of depressing considering the amount of money and time engineers have dedicated to their craft and he can just come in and match if not surpass most. He describes his process as “ just [turning] knobs till it sounded right to me,” this is how engineering should be done. There is no doubt Everett, who you would know from Weezer’s post 2009 releases, Alabama Shakes Sound and Color or possibly Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour, put a final shine to make it all come together as smoothly as it does but Thomas’ efforts should not be forgotten.
The Other is a fantastic listen that will keep you engaged throughout. It is beautiful music made through an artist’s hardship that shows there is light at the end of every darkness. The passion that King Tuff put into it bleeds through the speakers and you will not be dissapointed giving it your time.