Be Brave – Strange Boys

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This album
came to me as a series of untagged mp3s in a folder that simply read “STRANGE
BOYs: be bRAVe” from a friend that exists on the fringes of social cliques
surrounding the band. The usb drive was handed to me in a casual manner and the
individual in question seemed interested in what my thoughts were on their
sophomore release. “Give it a listen,” the mystery man said, “ not just once,
but a few times and tell me what you think.” So I did.

Since last year’s release of Strange Boys and Girls and Club, the
Strange Boys from Austin, Texas have stirred up a garage rock passion reminiscent
of England's Newest Hitmakers-era Stones. Continuing in this sixties vein,
their upcoming album Be Brave expounds upon that tradition by
kicking up a cloud of gritty, anachronistic dust. But, rising above the cult of Brian Jones, they take on the blue-eyed soul elements
that were crucial to groups like the Small Faces or mid-sixties Rod Stewart, and
spin it with a unique brew of weird Texas blues.

Let's start with lead singer Ryan Sambol’s grassy knoll
conspiracy fixations. On “There Goes My Mouth” he wails out this paranoid
postulation: “If on a clear bright day, if I get blown away, look no further
than the C.I.A.” Sambol’s voice garbles in that Marc Bolan-by-way-of-a-Texan-desperado variety, while the band's extended country-ish tendencies veer the Boys in an eclectic direction
not typical amongst garage rockers. Suspicion has it that this might be in part due
to late-comers Tim Presley from Darker My Love on vocals, Jenna E. Thornhill
Dewitt from Mika Miko on vocals and sax and Seth Densham on drums.

opening rocker echoes the Boy’s Basement
tutelage of banging out bravado with harmonicas, xylophones, hop
along rhythm guitar chords and garbled vocals that somehow stay on task. Up
next we hear Sambol wailing in a lackadaisical blues “Life has changed on you
again, something born, something dead,” to “come on down to the promise land,
find me if you can,” before transforming into a hopped up rocker. This leads into the title track “Be Brave,” with the band singing
the refrain “I gotta be brave” while Sambol responds with the cool assurance “don’t
seem like no choice to me.” “There Goes My Mouth” laments the lies his
teacher told him; “we were taught all wrong, but it’s not our fault. We just
came along, we just came along.”

Indeed, it's Ryan Sambol's wit that glues the release together through the album’s slower moments, as he entertains with random reflections on “friends
having sex in the other room, being quiet as they can as not to be rude.” While
these lulls on the album showcase the many genre hats the Boys can wear and Mr. Sambol's
many moods and thoughts, let's hope to hear more of the band’s louder
side on future releases.