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King Tuff conjures up a Black Moon Spell

While Kyle Thomas has been around the music industry for years as a member of Feathers, Happy Birthday and Witch (a doom band he plays in with J Mascis), his solo guise remains an enigma in the eyes of many. Just who (or what) is King Tuff?

Based on Black Moon Spell, the third full-length album from Thomas’ alter ego, it would be safe to assume that King Tuff is here to do three things: break the rules, stick it to the man, and have a fuckin’ good time doing it. “King Tuff is my name / I’ve got madness in my brain / Pleased to meet ‘ya / I’m gonna eat ‘ya / cause I’m batshit insane”, he chants on “Madness” almost like a mantra, creating a rebellious euphoria that provides a neat microcosm of both his persona and the album itself. The track listing also provides a fascinating insight into his psyche, with track titles such as “Sick Mind”, “Headbanger”, “Madness” and “Demon From Hell” helping to fabricate the youthful, sinister rock ‘n’ roll attitude that he ostensibly embodies.

In terms of modern “I pretend to not give a shit” lo-fi rock, the music on Black Moon Spell sits somewhere between the energetic vigour of California’s Ty Segall (who guest drums on the title track) and the stoned daydreams of Canadian slacker Mac DeMarco. With clear glam (“Sick Mind”), psych (“Eyes of the Muse”), punk (“Headbanger”), 90s alt (“Rainbows Run”, “Beautiful Thing”) and classic rock (“Staircase of Diamonds”) influences, the album is a fun, allusive and nostalgic joyride through rock ‘n’ roll subgenres gone by. And at barely 41 minutes long, Black Moon Spell is a fleeting glimpse of what could be described as classic rock for the 21st century.

Fuzzier than a baby duckling in a Christmas sweater fresh from the dryer, the album is veritably guitar oriented despite the colossal number of vocal hooks present. Loud, heavy, distorted riffage provides the foundations for almost every track on the album, with the hugely catchy, sneering Billy Corgan-esque vocal melodies often playing a subservient role to the abundance of guitar parts.

But while the album is full of hooks, it doesn’t exactly transcend (or even approach the boundaries of) lyric or song writing. Themes of sex, partying and an ideology of being forever young monotonously permeate the album, meaning that Black Moon Spell is probably mostly for adolescents (or perhaps dads having a mid-life crisis). Full of energy, effervescence and electricity, the music, subject matter and overall themes of the album seem almost like the soundtrack to an escape from teenage angst.

But does that make it any less enjoyable of an album? Not in the slightest. King Tuff has created a weirdly hypnotic, sleazy and primordial rock n’ roll experience that rockers of any age will relish. Feel yourself enthralled in the Black Moon Spell.

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