King Tuff is the neo-garage alter ego of multifaceted musician Kyle Thomas. Adopting the moniker in his teens as a play on his initials and the name King Tut, Thomas wouldn't begin playing as Tuff until 2006, when he self-released an album via CD-R between playing with freaky folk revivalists Feathers and J. Mascis' stoner metal band Witch. His full-length debut, Was Dead, arrived October 2008 for the Colonel label, introducing his anthemic lo-fi sonics to the masses. Touring with Hunx & his Punx and Witch, plus releasing an album with his off-kilter power pop band Happy Birthday put the Tuff project on the back burner until 2011, when a split single with Hex Dispensers arrived. A year later, he teased his follow-up album with the Wild Desire single for Suicide Squeeze before offering the full monty, simply called King Tuff, which made the jump to the revered Sub Pop label and found Tuff expanding the musical palette to show his yen for retro-pop melodies.
Around here you learn early on, usually in 9th grade earth science lab, that to know something you must cut it in half and examine the middle. Hamster brains, submarine sandwiches, who-dun-it novels, old growth evergreens, whatevs. The beginning and the end never really tell you all that much. It's the center, the core, the middle, the medium, the halfway point that gets at the thing's essence. Find it with a scalpel or a dagger or a dull ax meant for chopping wet cord wood. It doesn't matter how. Get to it, and get it under a microscope, and then you will know.
When you lay Fake Surfers, the fourth full-length release (the third on In the Red) by The Intelligence, flat on its back and slice it dead down the middle with a butter knife or an X-acto blade, you wind up six hot seconds into a love poem titled "Fuck Eat Skull," at which point the circular saw guitar has gathered enough strength to tell the Portland, Oregon junk-pop band to whom the track is dedicated, "Yes, I borrowed your Pontiac and returned it without a rear bumper or a steering wheel. What of it?" Later, king-pin Lars Finberg lets the song cool on its jets from time to time and in the almost-empty pauses where keyboards sound like Sunday mornings, or maybe like early-80s surrealist psych slop--you know, the stuff you can really put on your trench coat and dance to--you will be tempted to draw meaning. Don't. I mean, sure, Beren Ekine Huett plays in both the Intelligence and the band that's getting flipped the funny finger, but what does that haveto do with the essence of tea in Bolivia or secrets about ancient Chinese marching powder?
Likewise, it would be imprudent to attempt to gather too much from "Warm Transfers," a by turns churning and whistling British-feeling ditty charged with issuing a cherry little, "I don't like you or the 21st century fuel-saving robot you roller-skated in here with." Ditto "Pony People." The Intelligence stole that one from another junk-pop outfit, this one from L.A., called Wounded Lion. And yeah, yeah, yeah, Brad Eberhard from that band plays with this one sometimes, too (some crafty poacher that Finberg, eh?) but that doesn't mean anything. Not really. Brian Carver from Christmas Island and Monty Buckles -- you know that guy, right? kind of a dark horse fellow who fronts the Lamps and in the meantime makes YouTube videos about killer grandmas? -- they also contributed to the twelve tracks herein. Do you think I care?Study the center, kid. I'm telling you: That's where it's at.See, all that crap your neighbor talks about low infidelity and high resolution overload and detuned distortion pedals and acoustic guitars with dead batteries -- you know, that pile of talk-talk about unironic whammy bars and never growing up and the post-post-post past and the new neo now and the influence of short-lived slime-90s Sacramento punk bands that you're lucky to have never heard of, well, it's just toilet water. It's a missed bus. Wait right where you are, there will be another one along any minute. And don't worry about looking for some "Seattle sound" either. Finberg and company (see what happens if you holla "Perve Bird" and don't forget to ask about Susanna Welbourne, Lars' better half/bandmade; behind every irascible lyric and disrespectful beat there is a strong, no-shit lady and his is no joke) are on tour more than a hermit is at home, and the motley crew who contributed to the recorded versions did so in sunny Cal-i-forn-eye-A. So there.
Fake Surfers is a record about guitars that gear up, and then go (nowhere, and fast). It's a collection of songs about having the dumb strength to pick a fight over a weak argument. The essence of Fake Surfers is a rusty home improvement tool that was recalled after being found guilty of chewing babies and arm-wrestling old maids for their milk money. But you would know that if you just cut the damn thing in half and looked at it plainly like I told you to.