The demand for sweltering garage bashes and skittering guitars has not only encouraged fuzz-pedal enthusiasts to release albums on almost a monthly basis, but to reissue their older, weirder albums. Newfound appreciation has led to this hunger for grungy, piss-stained chords — the dirtier the better. Were talking about the Bay Areas Traditional Fools and their self-titled, which dropped in December, and garage darlings Mikal Cronin and Ty Segall, releasing Reverse Shark Attack back in January. For the first time, Vermont native King Tuff’s earliest collection of recordings, the crunching Was Dead, is seeing the neon laptop glow of the internet. And its blinding.
The man who goes by Tuff is less a biker gang leader and more of a stoner warmed by the mess of his Vermont adolescence. Self-described, Was Dead is a bona fide Vermont record, “fueled by extra sharp Cabot cheddar cheese and hot, grade-A fancy maple syrup poured over crisp white snow and served with a pickle and a cider donut. You sit down on the shitty concrete in the parking lot and you slurp it all up.”
Tuff’s nasal voice is threaded from the most honest stuff, even if the emotions are simple. Baby Im so sweet on you begins the albums first scratchy track, Dancing on You. Its grimier than the darling King Tuff we know today, yet from the very start, Was Dead struts onward, from the cotton-candy high of a summer sweetheart in Connection into the lickety-split blues of Lady. The folk-punk revival beats loudly on Was Dead, and the sugarcoated cavities of A Pretty Dress are reminiscent of Bob Dylan at his warbliest or the short-lived days of The Animals.
When you listen to King Tuff, youre struck with the overarching feeling that everything is going to be okay. You’re spurred to want to follow the man with the wobbly voice and the guitar pointed forward. He doesnt necessarily know where hes going, but hes sincere. And really, it’s about the journey.
Essential Tracks: “Dancing on You”, “Sun Medallion”, and “Connection”