Release Date: Mar 2, 2010
Record label: In The Red
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
A jaunty harmonica is the first thing you hear on Be Brave, suggesting that not much has changed in the Strange Boys’ world, and not much needs to. The Austin, TX band still serves up plenty of prime down-home swagger and twang on their second album, especially on irresistible rockers like “Night Might. ” However, the Strange Boys get a little moodier and more expansive on these songs, enlisting friends like Mika Miko’s Jenna Thornhill and Darker My Love’s Tim Presley to help them go deeper into the swampy grooves that popped up from time to time on Strange Boys and Girls Club.
On last year’s …And Girls Club, the Strange Boys showed a knack for high-energy, strung-out rock 'n' roll that earned the Austin group well-deserved praise. Despite obvious musical touchstones (blues, soul, Mod-era rock), the foursome tweaked the ingredients just enough to create something new and weird. In the mid-'60s, Bob Dylan searched for “that wild, mercurial sound,” and the Strange Boys seemingly perfected it.Yet Be Brave, their second LP for In The Red, finds the Boys moving away from that nervy jangle.
It’s a merciful relief that, with their second effort in 12 months, [b]The Strange Boys[/b]’ ramshackle garage-rock has not so much grown up as merely grown slightly wider. Ryan Sambol’s nasal drawl still laces over the four-piece’s trademark jangling surf guitars and lo-fi ambles, but, with the likes of [b]‘The Unsent Letter’[/b]’s stripped-down, piano-led blues, and the opening balladry of [b]‘A Walk On The Bleach’[/b], the band’s repertoire seems to have expanded to more than just pseudo-[a]Black Lips[/a] southern romp-a-longs. Tellingly, [b]‘Be Brave’[/b] is back-loaded with easily the strongest and most diverse cuts, and by the time the final acoustic plucks of [b]‘You Can’t Only Love When You Want’[/b] fade out, [b]The Strange Boys[/b] have done almost a sonic 180.
Almost as soon as the golden era of rock ‘n’ roll was coming to a close, people began to pine for the halcyon days when most things were apparently acceptable and free. The Strange Boys continue the tradition, wearing a hefty pair of rose-tinted glasses and yearning for a carefree past with glazed innocence and heartwarming melancholy. This approach isn’t without its pitfalls: there’s always the looming danger of plagiarism, of sounding stale and to be received with the sense that it’s all been done and heard before.
Though laced with what an unprepared ear will originally interpret as an irregular and slightly dissonant air, The Strange Boys new album, Be Brave, has an odd way of growing on you. Straight away, the unconventional chords and delivery probably won’t convince you to renounce your past favourite band in favour of what I can only describe as a seventies surf-pop influenced funk group forever contemplating the possibility of crossing into punk, yet a short trial of perserverent listening may convince you to pay them their dues. Like a new wool blanket that just necessitates a short period of endurant itchiness prior to your skin getting used to the texture, the scratches Ryan Sambol’s voice seem to give you will, eventually, transcend into an interesting study of unlikely musical choices that offer something much more than just background noises to think on.
Austin's the Strange Boys debuted last year with The Strange Boys and Girls Club, a play-it-loose collection of twangy garage tunes suited for pool hall scuffles. It was an album content to play well within a defined set of parameters and found them tinkering with rockabilly, 1960s R&B, and British Invasion rock. It's easy to imagine the Strange Boys could churn out sets of these half-drunk shakers forever, and considering how well they did pull it off, that seemed like something to look forward to.
On their debut, …and Girls Club, Austin, Texas’s the Strange Boys tapped into a punk swagger that drove their tunes along. The sound aligned them with a number of other garage rock bands wandering the indie rock landscape these days. In fact, the Strange Boys matched up well with peers like Black Lips, because they seemed to have a more earnest R&B thump to their jagged sound.
They’ve got sensitivity in spades, though it’s hidden by scuzz and disharmony. Daniel Ross 2010 There is an underlying grapple amongst the music of dusty Texans The Strange Boys, one that alternates between candy-pop and impenetrably scratchy rock. In a way, they’re the perfect band for young rockers to hear and be influenced by. A rich musical history and schooling runs through them, from Love and The Velvet Underground through to more conventional beat-led standards of The Rolling Stones, but with a big enough twist of modernity to plant them firmly in 2010.
The title track of the Strange Boys' sophomore LP is one of those perfect concoctions: a late-night juke joint hip-swing, with a chorus of drunken harmonies and jubilant sax solo. The rest of Be Brave experiences mood swings. Last year's acclaimed debut, And Girls Club, burst straight outta Beerland's garage fully formed, bent on party-speed rhythm and blues.