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Two kings

| November 7, 2012

King Tuffs self-titled album showcases the soft, seemingly ’90s British rock vocals of leading man Kyle Thomas. We get our first taste of the Vermont-turned-L.A. transplant on “Anthem” with grunge guitar and synchronized clapping. In fact, a good up-beat clap is a common theme running throughout the album. “Keep On Movin'” utilizes that similar pop beat to go with clasped hands, as does “Hit & Run.” Keyboards and sensitive lyrics give this final track the flair of ’60s Beatle-mania. Although King Tuff dabbles around with thrashing, grungier sounds on “Loser’s Wall” and “Stranger,” the most interesting songs use a combination of eras. “Bad Thing” features guitars from two different decades: The hard sounds of ’90s grunge seamlessly intertwine with a ’60s feel-good rhythm. Lyrically, King Tuff often relies on humor (see “Alone & Stoned” – pretty self-explanatory). But these fun and quirky songs have just as many deeper companions. “Baby Just Break,” a pop-ballad and “Swamp of Love,” the love song for haters, make a case for this well-rounded album’s lyric sophistication. (Thursday@Subterranean.)

Although PAPA begins its A Good Woman Is Hard To Find EP with soulful keyboards on “Ain’t It So” to match the baritone vocals of drummer/singer Darren Weiss (he also sits behind the kit for Girls), a more common sound found throughout last fall’s debut is the high-on-the-neck guitar picking that gives the band a dose of pizzazz. The instrumentals vary with a few tambourine shakes to open “I Am The Lion King.” Piano takes the cake again in “Collector,” but what’s most intriguing about this track is the slow, warped-out bridge juxtaposed against Weiss’ screams of “I just want to be quiet now!” The quivering, lightning-fast guitar picking on “Let’s Get You Pregnant,” may as well be a mandolin for its speed. The release’s grunged-up, hard guitar version of that pseudo mandolin combined with supporting keyboards, a xylophone, and epic lyrics pull at the heart strings, making them burn like an excited teenager. A metronome of a guitar steadies the final track, “Song For Mike Gigliotti.” We may never know his identity, but he surely inspires lovely harmonies and earth-shaking instrumentals. (Thursday@Riviera with Grouplove.)

— Mary Scannell

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Category: Featured, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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