Strange Boys – Be Brave

January 01, 1970

(In the Red)


An immediate impression upon listening to the Strange
Boys would be that they’re probably having more fun than humans should be
allowed to have and that it’s infectious. The SBs blasted out of Austin last
year riding their debut album, And Girls
with a viral popularity rarely seen. Over the last few years they’ve
opened for stellar acts like The Black Angels, King Kahn & BBQ, Black Lips,
Reigning Sound, Daniel Johnston and the late Jay Reatard. Their fresh-faced take
on bluesy, jangle-beat garage borders on freak-folk in moments and is tinged
with gleeful, anarchic mayhem. The group has also grown from four to six


Lead singer Ryan Sambol’s unlikely scratchy-croak
vocals seem to strain to reach the higher notes, but succeeds in getting his
nuanced message across in his songs. Consider the introspective lyrics of “The
Unsent Letter”, which may allude to a fear of cancer sticks: “I
can foresee getting me too in the end/my lungs are already dead/and I’ve only
begun to kill myself/owning nothing but a cough….My uncle taught my brother/and
my brother taught me/what is there/is not always what is seen.” Then consider the plaintive opening track, “I
See”, with its cheerless harmonica and organ; “I see faces/in a pile of
clothes/in a bar of soap/in wood or stone/in water/as it’s being poured/oh I
see/the gloves on the other foot now/I said wow/I think I can love you now/tonight’s
dinner is tomorrow’s shit/so enjoy it/before it stinks.”


Half of the twelve tunes here have an upbeat tempo,
with “Night Might” being the best reminder of their previous album. The others
fall into the slow to mid-tempo range. “Laugh At Sex, Not At Her”, “You Can’t
Only Have Love When You Want” and” All You Can Hide Inside” reminded me of
traditional acoustic blues stuff Hot Tuna might have played. “Between Us” is
slow enough to be played for that special last dance at evening’s end before
the lights come up. Be Brave is a
more thoughtful and less wild and crazy effort than And Gils Club, which I don’t see negatively impacting their
following. If anything, it will probably garner them more admirers. After all,
even the wild and crazy among us have our thoughtful moments.


Standout Tracks: “Friday In Paris, “A Walk On The Bleach” (sic),
“Night Might.” BARRY ST. VITUS



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