King Tuff

King Tuff’s name evokes some combination of ancient Egyptian imperialism and Sesame Street, but his first album, Was Dead, immersed itself in the sounds of 70s New York – the Modern Lovers, the Ramones, plenty of the New York Dolls.  Although he stole tricks from New York, he grew up in Vermont, and the music showed a jaunty freedom instead of leather-jacketed ennui: rolling green hills, maple syrup, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Magic Hat beer.  Songs like “So Desperate” and “Just Strut” ripped and blasted to deeply satisfying conclusions.

Tuff’s new self-titled album expands his sound, but his impact is the same.  The riffs stay fast and low to the ground, the vocals are shouted or groaned but always seem gleeful.  The guitar on the hook of “Hit & Run” sounds like a remarkably catchy police-car siren, while “Keep On Movin’” finds a groove that Tuff doesn’t usually look for in his mad dash.  King Tuff’s infectious spirit serves as a reminder of rock and roll’s simple pleasures.

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