Release Date: Mar 17, 2009
Record label: In The Red
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
That the basic tenets of garage-rock have not changed in the four decades separating Black Monk Time and Black Lips is not a comment on the music's regressive nature as much as its enduring utility. Whether the war's happening in Vietnam or Iraq, garage-rock is essentially the musical equivalent of a superhero comic book-- it transforms shy, socially awkward young men into fuzzbox-stomping, skirt-chasing, government-overthrowing revolutionaries. The mostly failed attempts in the early part of this decade to reposition the music as a marketable hipster commodity overlooked this fundamental quality-- garage-rock is not a music for the masses; it's the private, fantastical domain of misfits.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, the Strange Boys toss its hat in the new school of garage rock ring and gives the likes of Black Lips and King Khan and the Shrines a serious run for its money on its impressive debut on—what else but America’s own intrepid new school Nuggets miner—In The Red Records. Though the band might look like it stepped out of a Vice Magazine fashion shoot, these young scrappers sound as though it stepped right out of the 1967 underground, washing the English charm of Face to Face-era Kinks in an acid bath of 13th Floor Elevators proto-boogie to create something more genuine than most of the groups out there currently being touted as garage rock. The political paranoia of songs like the folky “Then” and “They’re Building the Death Camps” suggest perhaps a little too much time spent listening to fellow Texan and radio host Alex Jones, but there’s a reason why the likes of Roky Erickson and the Mighty Hannibal have asked the Strange Boys to back them up.
Having recorded but never released nearly four albums, the Strange Boys' debut full-length, And Girls Club, feels more like a greatest-hits collection, a staggering assortment of 7-inch artifacts from a new psychedelic era. Confident and composed, the Boys have grown into and perfected these 16 songs. Standout "This Girl Taught Me a Dance," a gritty, postmillennial sock hop, is captured here with a slightly faster tempo than the original demo version and is all the better for it; singer/guitarist Ryan Sambol – a bleary-eyed street poet with sympathy for the devil in the details – slurs the opening sequence: "This girl taught me a dance called I don't care/Said to me, it's easy I swear/stand alone over there.
Strange Boys make garage rock stripped to knuckle bones and gristle, reaching back way past the Beatles to a Chess Records-ish mash of high slide guitar, second-hand shuffles, and woeful, wandering laments. “Should Have Shot Paul,” croons Ryan Sambol, against a slack-jawed, southern soul beat, but really, you could have shot all four of the moptops and not made an ounce of difference in this blues-blistered, early rock sound. The Beatles just don’t enter into it.