Kyle Thomas takes a leap into a new psychedelic folk genre with his latest King Tuff LP The Other. Through folk ballads and rock anthems, Thomas produces an album that echoes themes of redemption.
Since the early 2000s, singer-songwriter Kyle Thomas has been making music both under his own name and the pseudonym King Tuff, but after the success of his stoner psych-rock LP Was Dead in 2008, Thomas retired his own identity and King Tuff began performing full time.
After releasing two more similar albums, King Tuff in 2012 and Black Moon Spell in 2014, King Tuff’s latest LP The Other marks a shift in Thomas’ musical career from heavy rock ‘n’ roll to a hybrid of psych-folk pop rock. With a wide range of instruments providing unique sounds to lyrics that explore dense topics not done before in his earlier work, The Other comes as an exciting evolution for King Tuff’s sound and an enjoyable listen.
Following two rock-based albums, the folk-influenced songs on The Other come as steep change to King Tuff’s sound, but his ability to blend this and his psych-rock roots makes the shift work. One of the more folk-heavy songs, “Thru the Cracks”, is a prime example of this. A violin intro and acoustic guitar rhythm paired with synth background ties the two genres seamlessly. “Infinite Mile” accomplishes the same effect with the pairing of harmonicas and synth keys through the song.
The Other features more psychedelic-based tunes as well. “Psycho Star” grooves with funky bass lines, keys and distorted guitars that anchor the album to the psych genre and sounds the most like King Tuff’s previous work. The attitude-filled psych “Raindrop Blue” follows suit. Distorted saxophone and vocals singing to catchy hooks provide a psych-pop anthem that is easy to move to.
Many songs on The Other explore more serious themes, and from start to finish, a narrative of redemption can be found. The opening title track The Other is a slow, somber ballad about hitting rock bottom, wandering through life aimlessly. The lyrics, “No agenda, no master plan no important dates no reason to be alive at all” speak to this theme of sorrow. With ups and down through the record, the album comes full circle with the ending track, “No Man’s Land.” The soft ballad of redemption is a perfect closing song, giving the listener a sense of closure. Lyrics such as, “That must have been the last time I cried, from that moment forward all my teardrops disappeared” encapsulate feelings of hope one hopes to come to after a difficult time.
Thomas’ ability to create a collection of music that connects and tells a story as he does on The Other speaks volumes to his development as a musician. The Other blended psych, rock, folk and pop genres make for a unique arrangement that is sure to speak to multiple audiences.