Best New Rock – Tough On Fridays, Paolo Ruiu, Scarlet Joy, Sullivan Smith and Stray Lions

Tough On Fridays has it all.  A captivating pair of front women who command your attention, they possess start power and elite vocal skills.  A tight band who plays with ferocious energy.  A semblance of pop punk appeal with crossover potential, offering a large range of influence that could draw widespread attention in the world of indie.  Great guitar tones, fantastic harmonies, and a group performance sensibility that demands you see them in concert.  They could open for Paramore or The Districts.  They have mainstream appeal with an underground edge.  They now also have a statement of a record with the release of their new Lp The Encore You Didn’t Ask For.

It’s absolutely the record you didn’t know you needed, fit for an energetic youthful rock revival in the age of gaze.  The first four songs are straight up Rock anthems.  Those songs being Overboard!, Cabin Fever, Sink or Swim, and Lush (Reimagined).  The second half flexes their Dashboard Confessional or Third Eye Blind influence, a chance to completely fall for them as you absorb this influx of vulnerability and sensitive affect.  We’re not entirely sure which version we like more, oh wait we love them both.  

We are, after all, a blog, and can take such editorial liberties.  But our silly demeanor is only an affect of our excitement for this project.  It reignites a sense of stardom and desire for these rare offerings.  Pretty girls that rock harder than the tough boys, not to discount their third member, he knows how good they are. 

A sure thing for fans of Paramore and their associated acts, Tough On Fridays should also please fans of indie buzz projects like ALVVAYS and Snail Mail or more alternative acts like Foo Fighters.  

The whole album slaps. Get started with Lush (Reimagined) now on our Best New Rock Playlist

Paolo Ruiu continues to assert himself as a catchy lo fi buzzworthy champion with the release of Pale Ocean. His catchy gems are all blessed with an analog sound design rooted in his Tascam 424 cassette recorder.  The aesthetic is lifted with masterful songwriting. Instilling his penchant for post punk inspired pop with indie influence, we hear the legacy of the Strokes with the classic appeal of New Order and the modern exotic mystery of Jose Gonzalez, all reimagined with a sharp lofi presentation. 

The lofi appeal is tempered, retaining its legibility and presenting clearer than some of his over excited colleagues.  It adds to the dreamy appeal without disqualifying its mainstream potential.  After all, Paolo Ruiu is exciting and brings widespread appeal with an undeniable catchy melodic tendency.  Building on a prolific catalog, an investigating audience will be excited to find a recent history filled with all killer and no filler.  

Dig into Pale Ocean now on our Best New Rock Playlist.  

Scarlet Joy is lead by a prolific mega artist with elite ability as a songwriter and performer.  Her name is Sofire Woodcraft.  A dominant emergence in the world of melodic hard rock, this is the New Rock Queen you’ve been looking for.  Dark and melodic without devolving into the world of cheap, her songwriting is elegant while retaining an undeniable hard edge.  In that way she recalls the intellectual heavy beauty of Perfect Circle with the anthemic presence of Florence and The Machine.  Impressively, she presents these works as a trio with minimum production despite a big harmonious presence.  The arrangements are also impressive, featuring dynamic contributions from bass player Tom Latham and drummer Drew Moore

Scarlet Joy has dropped a flurry of companion videos accentuate the collective theme, solidifying the artistic intentions of the collective project.  It’s the chic elegance of Cobain’s Heart Shaped Box brought through the next 30 years of inspiration and influence, influences like QOTSA and NIN, updated effectively by this group, Scarlet Joy.  It embraces both its ruthless grit and instinctual beauty.  And like Cobain, Woodcraft’s songwriter instincts are her greatest strength.  She just can’t write a bad tune.  Dripping singles out throughout the year and now bringing them together on the new release Mourning Pages, Scarlet Joy claims their crown with an incredible 9 song full length.  Where to start?  Start at the beginning with Lost At Sea and listen to it straight through. 

Scarlet Joy is permanently featured on our Best New Rock Playlist.  

Sullivan Smith & The Stray Lions caught our attention with their new single Mellow Blues.  We were drawn to the songs compositional variation, its subtle unconventional details.  Like how the songwriter pivots out of the verse section where most writers would have repeated the phrase.  It adds a sense of drama with progressive flair.  On brand, he adds an additional tag at the end of 2nd pre chorus.  

We were also drawn to the singers raw and weathered delivery.  Its slightly broken but melodically charming, in the vein of Kings of Leon.  Collectively we hear the influence of Ryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen.  The Springsteen influence is also referenced in the Saxophone contribution, and the songs classic R&B roots.  It feels like a bootleg out of the cult cinema classic The Commitments, like Sullivan Smith is some back alley troubadour who stumbled upon this makeshift band and made quick candid magic.  We’d love to stumble into some small town speak easy and hear a moment like this.  Venture to Roanoke, VA.  That’s where you can find them. 

Until then, dig Mellow Blues on our Best New Rock Playlist


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