Tag: Billboard Heatseekers

New Video: King Tuff Releases Surreal and Meditative Visuals for Shuffling and Cosmic Album Single “Psycho Star”

Kyle Thomas is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who’s the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded indie rock recording project King Tuff. And much like countless other musicians, Thomas grew up in a fairly musical home, where he was encouraged to play several different instruments — particularly guitar, keyboard and drums; but interestingly, it was a Fender Stratocaster that his father brought for him when he was 7 that served as a constant source of inspiration. After high school, Thomas spent his time writing songs and playing with a number of bands. “I would go on tour, but i never really took it as a serious job up until a couple years ago, when I decided to really make an effort at it. It’s been a real long, slow practice,” Thomas once publicly said. 

Thomas’ first release was a self-made CD-R distributed by Spirit of Orr Records, and the album consisted of rough version of songs, white he later released on his official debut 2008’s Was Dead, which was released through Tee Pee Records’ sister-label The Colonel; however, after not receiving much attention for his work as King Tuff, Thomas went on to other creative pursuits including stints in bands like Witch, Happy Birthday and Ty Segall’s backing band, The Muggers. Thomas’ 2012 sophomore, Bobby Harlow-produced, self-titled, full-length effort was released by Sub Pop Records and charted at #21 on Billboard’s Heatseeker Albums chart while debuting at #14 on CMJ’s charts, before eventually climbing to #2, knocking Jack White’s Blunderbuss from its top charting position. 2013 saw the re-ssiue deluxe edition of Was Dead, which charted at #8 on Billboard’s Heatseeker charts. 

Thomas’ third, full-length effort, 2014’s Black Moon Spell continued his ongoing collaboration with Bobby Harlow and featured Ty Segall as a guest drummer on the title track — and the album continued a run of critical and commercial success, with the album debuting at #1 on Billboard’s Heatseeker charts, and was once #1 on the CMJ College Radioplay chart. 

Last week, Thomas released his first single in four years, “The Other” the album title track off The Other, which is slated for an April 13, 2018 release through Sub Pop Records. And while his self-produced effort will continue his reputation for hook-driven rock, the material reportedly finds Thomas ditching the goofy, rock-‘n’-roll bacchanalia for much more expansive arrangements, a diversity of instrumentation with lyrics that also reportedly straddle the fence between painful rumination and reconnecting with the childlike and innocent aspect of yourself. Additionally, the album features guest spots from Ty Segall (drums), Jenny Lewis (vocals), Greta Morgan (vocals) and Mikal Cronin (saxophone).  And while being a decided change in sonic direction, Thomas views the album as a psychic reset of him. “I let the songs lead me where they wanted to go, instead of trying to push them into a certain zone. King Tuff was always just supposed to be me. When I started doing this as a teenager, it was whatever I wanted it to be. King Tuff was never supposed to be just one thing. It was supposed to be everything.”

“Psycho Star” is The Other’s first official single is a funky and soulful track based around an arrangement of arpeggiated keys, sinuous bass line, shuffling drums, wah wah pedal effected guitars and a disco-like hook but lyrically the song finds its narrator musing about his place in an indifferent and mysterious universe. It’s obvious that the viewpoint on the album is to look upward and outward towards the cosmic, the infinite.  

Directed by Cameron Dutra, the recently released video for “Psycho Star” is a surreal concept that follows the video’s director, King Tuff and backing dancers as they’re about to shoot their video but pulls back to focus on some of the random passerby, a roller skater lost in her music, and a paranoid truth-teller and psychic. At times, the visuals are gloriously lo-fi, nodding at VHS video and cheap car dealership commercials while at other points, being remarkably slick, as well as a mediation on life and death. 

Currently comprised of Kyle Morton (vocals, piano, guitar), Tony Tanabe (bass, vocals), Dave Hall (guitar, vocals), Shannon Steele (violin, vocals), Jef Hufnagel (violin, vocals), Pieter Hilton (drums, vocals), Alex Fitch (drums, vocals), Tyler Ferrin (horns, guitar, piano, vocals), Ryan McAlpin (trumpet, vocals), Eric Stipe (trumpet, vocals) and Devin Gallagher (percussion, ukelele, vocals), the 11 member Portland, OR-based indie act Typhoon has received attention for a sound that meshes elements of indie rock, baroque pop  and orchestral pop as their material is rooted around complex arrangements and lush orchestration, as well as a penchant for restless experimentation with various styles including classic sea shanties, Country and Western, Eastern European folk and others. And unsurprisingly, they’ve drawn comparisons to Frightened Rabbit, Bright Eyes, Beirut and Arcade Fire among others. Along with that, they’ve received attention for live sets that routinely feature 12 (or more) musicians performing on stage. However, with the release of Hunger & Thirst and A New Kind of House EP the collective’s material revealed an increasingly consistent sound paired with a greater attention on crafting a thematic through-line — with much of their material based around a preoccupation with mortality, based primarily around (and making references to) Morton’s childhood struggles with Lyme Disease.

Adding to a rapidly growing local and national profile, they’ve had their music appear on SyFy’s Being Human, NBC’s Chuck and the major motion picture Veronica Mars, and they’ve opened for the likes of The Thermals, Quasi, Yann Tiersen, Explosions in the Sky, The Decemberists, Belle and Sebastian and The Shins and have toured with Lady Lamb the Bee Keeper, Portugal, the Man and Grouplove. Thanks in part to the success of album single “The Honest Truth,” which was ranked #3 in Paste Magazine‘s Top 50 Songs of 2011 List, and 2013’s White Lighter, which reached #105 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the Heatseekers and was 37 on Paste’s Best Albums list, the members of the collective played sets at 2014’s Lollapalooza and Outside Lands.

After the release of 2015’s live album, Live at Crystal Ballroom, which features the band playing material from off Hunger & Thirst and White Lighter, Morton released his solo debut What Will Destroy You — and during that time, the members of the collective spent time working on the material, which would comprise their soon-to-be released fourth album Offerings. Thematically, the album is centered on a fictional man, who is losing his memory — and in turn, his sense of self.  “I’ve always been preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory. I wanted to explore the questions: What does a person become if they don’t know where they came from? What is the essential quality of the person if you strip away all memory?” explains singer/songwriter Kyle Morton in pres note

As the story goes, motivated by his own preoccupation with “losing it,” Morton was inspired by the films of David Lynch, Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Fellini’s 8 1/2, as well as several different books on his nightstand, including Samuel Beckett’s famed Three Novels — in particular, Malloy. “It made it a much darker album for sure,” Morton says in press notes.  Structurally, the album is divided into four different movements — Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning and Afterparty — meant to represent each of the four mental phases the main character goes through when he first realizes that something is wrong, then struggles through the chaos of his situation, and finally moves into acceptance before succumbing to a terrible and unimaginable fate.

Musically, the band evokes an impending doom and chaos that’s supposed to mirror the main character’s sense of fear and anxiety. And to set the set the tone, Morton and company decided to write the material with much more guitar than horns and string arrangements.  “I wanted it to be a darker, more intense rock record, so it’s very guitar-based. It’s going back to my rock roots before Typhoon,” says Morton. But along with that, the material parallels the contemporary world. “I was also reading historian Timothy Snyder and was inspired by his take on how America is at risk of losing their sense of history. If we haven’t learned the lessons of our past, historically, we can’t recognize when elements come back to haunt us, which is what’s happening right now,” Morton adds.

Interestingly, Offering‘s latest single “Darker” is from the album’s third movement, and as Morton explains, the song details some of the final stages of the album’s main character’s memory crisis in which he loses the critical distinctions separating self from other. And naturally all kinds of chaos and confusion ensue. And while the arrangement balances a hook laden arena rock friendliness with a sweeping, cinematic quality, it possesses a tense and creeping anxiousness of someone, who’s fully aware of something horrifying happening to them and that they’re utterly powerless to stop it — but along with that, there’s the strange recognition that whatever it was that it was happening to them is something they’d have a difficult time explaining to someone else. Personally, what makes the song interesting is that Morton as a songwriter has revealed himself to have a novelist’s attention to psychological detail, capturing the fractured thoughts and uncertain emotions of someone slowly losing it all.

 

The band will begin 2018 with a lengthy US and European tour, and it includes a January 27, 2018 stop at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the tour dates below.

 

 

TOUR DATES:
01.10 – URBAN LOUNGE – SALT LAKE CITY, UT (TICKETS)
01.12 – GOTHIC THEATRE – ENGLEWOOD, CO (TICKETS)
01.14 – THE WAITING ROOM – OMAHA, NE (TICKETS)
01.17 – TURF CLUB – SAINT PAUL, MN (TICKETS)
01.18 – MAJESTIC THEATER – MADISON, WI (TICKETS)
01.19 – THE METRO – CHICAGO, IL (TICKETS)
01.20 – EL CLUB – DETROIT, MI (TICKETS)
01.23 – LEE’S PALACE – TORONTO, ON (TICKETS)
01.25 – PARADISE ROCK CLUB – BOSTON, MA (TICKETS)
01.26 – UNION TRANSFER – PHILADELPHIA, PA (TICKETS)
01.27 – MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG – BROOKLYN, NY (TICKETS)
01.31 – 9:30 CLUB – WASHINGTON, DC (TICKETS)
02.01 – CAT’S CRADLE – CARRBORO, NC (TICKETS)
02.02 – TERMINAL WEST – ATLANTA, GA (TICKETS)
02.03 – EXIT IN – NASHVILLE, TN (TICKETS)
02.06 – THE MOHAWK – AUSTIN, TX (TICKETS)
02.08 – THE CRESCENT BALLROOM – PHOENIX, AZ (TICKETS)
02.10 – MUSIC BOX – SAN DIEGO, CA (TICKETS)
02.11 – TERAGRAM BALLROOM – LOS ANGELES, CA (TICKETS)
02.13 – THE INDEPENDENT – SAN FRANCISCO, CA (TICKETS)
02.16 – THE CROCODILE – SEATTLE, WA (TICKETS)
02.23 – CRYSTAL BALLROOM – PORTLAND, OR (TICKETS)
02.24 – RICKSHAW THEATRE – VANCOUVER, BC (TICKETS)
02.28 – THE DEAF INSTITUTE – MANCHESTER, UK (TICKETS)
03.01 – BROADCAST – GLASGOW, UK (TICKETS)
03.02 – THE LEXINGTON – LONDON, UK (TICKETS)
03.07 – LE PETIT BAIN – PARIS, FRANCE (TICKETS)
03.08 – BOTANIQUE – BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (TICKETS)
03.09 – PARADISO – AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (TICKETS)
03.10 – KNUST – HAMBURG, GERMANY (TICKETS)
03.13 – VEGA – COPENHAGEN, DENMARK (TICKETS)
03.14 – MUSIK & FRIEDEN – BERLIN, GERMANY (TICKETS)
03.15 – FLUC – VIENNA, AUSTRIA (TICKETS)
03.16 – GARE DE LION – WIL, SWITZERLAND (TICKETS)
03.18 – ROYAL – BADEN, SWITZERLAND (TICKETS)
03.20 – ARTHEATER – COLOGNE, GERMANY (TICKETS)