Review: The Strange Boys - Be Brave

Published at URB.com

The Strange Boys
Be Brave
Released by Rough Trade

It would be easy to make comparisons when it comes to Austin, TX garage rock band The Strange Boys–all the requisite Southern rocking, croaky singing, fuzz-boxing elements are there. On their second studio album, Be Brave, the once-punk, six-member band do their best to subvert any cliches about their musical M.O. by channeling dusty guitars, harmonicas and organs. The decidely lo-fi production renders the music more modern than old, more organic than glam.

Still, there’s something very sixties and very Dylan-esque about The Strange Boys’ music. It might be the powerful harmonica coursing through “Night Might,” or the sense of urgency that hits on R&B-inspired title track “Be Brave,” or it could just be the commanding, croaky croon of  lead singer Ryan Sambol himself. While Sambol’s ambling, off-kilter singing voice might seem couched in nostalgia, there’s an element of honesty and genuine appreciation that seeps through the album’s consistent, yet varied, dozen tracks. “Friday In Paris” is a perfect example: electric organs, neat guitar melodies and a good balance between breezy and old-time, set off Sambol’s soulful voice.  There’s an intriguing, never pandering, blend of genres on Be Brave–from soul to blues to modern day indie rock-packaged as Texas blues–making the record a more interesting listen each time around.—Anupa Mistry