Everything on the EP “Live at Texas Indie Fest” screams retro, but these are not your seemingly random leftover sounds simply ransacked from a decade or two long gone. This collection of songs stick in your head, the mood strips itself bare, and the term “retro” applies to the way Tough On Fridays affront their punk-tinged alternative rock n’ roll, in the age of laptops and loops. This dose of live songs work sonically, and reminds the crowd, why founders, Katie (Vocals, Bass, Guitars) and Caleigh (Vocals, Guitars) are already so respected in certain circles.
The Georgetown, Texas-based duo who officially burst onto the scene in 2017 have also added new drummer, Mark Griffor, to their line-up. The tracks are all incredibly solid, chock full of angst and catchy, edgy musical hooks. Just what you would expect from a blazoned punk-rock entity like Tough On Fridays.
“Live at Texas Indie Fest” kicks off with “Retrospect” which puts us directly into the thick of things with crunchy guitars, a chugging rhythm and resonant vocals driving the tone of the tune, in turn held down by a deep rolling bassline. This opening track gives us a quick measure of Tough On Fridays’ intentions on this recording – less talk, more music.
“Little Italy” is a song the girls originally wrote during their sixth grade. It not only brings to the fore their ear for a catchy melody and a bouncy beat, but a definite predisposition for vivid storytelling. Anchored by some tastefully solid drumming, the song once again allows for the lead vocals to shine brightly.
“Lush” ups the rhythmic ante, as Tough On Fridays let loose with jangly guitar strumming and overdriven tones. The song slows down into a quiet bridge before exploding back into its main riff. Again it’s the vocals which capture my attention in a song that is all-round excellent. I can’t help being reminded of Alanis Morissette’s quaint vocal phrasing in places here, as well as being almost hypnotically drawn in by the lyrics.
This may just be my favorite track on the recording. It rocks from front to end and will stick in your head for a while. The music here feels real, honest. A punk track with a pop heart, in a remixed version, “Lush” could manage to pierce through the confines of mainstream radio.
“Yachats” opens with a mellow ambiance, dominated by an emotional and melodic vocal before steadily picking up momentum. The weight of Tough On Fridays’ lyrics, gripping, personal, intense, and relatable, cause this song to resonate immediately. It’s a great blend of strength and vulnerability. In some ways very feminine indeed.
Bombastic, direct and fiery. It takes the overdriven dirges of punk and works in some honest-to-goodness upbeat pop hooks. As intense as the performance gets, there’s this big open-throated chorus anchoring the whole thing.
Tough On Fridays clearly have something to say in the current musical climate. They subvert gender roles and play some mean, loud guitars on “Live at Texas Indie Fest”. Furthermore they write some seriously infectious songs that demand repeat play.