Album Review: Strange Boys – Live Music

While the third release from the Strange Boys might continue their trajectory of becoming more refined, tight, and hi-fi, there is a bit of a backdrift in the album. Not necessarily a bad thing like the connotation would make someone assume, but perhaps a bit of a nostalgic regression into a time where you’d hear a band like them on a jukebox.

The new album, Live Music adds a new instrument to the Strange Boys’ arsenal of garage instruments. They bring a piano into the forefront of most the album, and it’s pretty refreshing. Combined with the grittyness of their guitar and harmonica, the piano adds a nice clean touch to the album with its simple parts.

As the album progresses, you can hear their Texas roots emerge as their album borderlines some Americana sensibilities at many points. Take the ending two minutes of “Doueh,: which sounds like it was ripped straight from the pages of Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky. However, from there the relaxed outro of that song goes into the slightly frantic “Punk’s Pajamas” which is a must-listen for any Walkmen fan. Raunchy guitars, harmonica in the background, frenetic drums, and Ryan Sambol’s vocals have a cadence that would be easily mistaken for Hamilton Leithauser.

For more Americana goodness, you could also listen to “Mama Shelter”, a bit of The Band meets a bit of punk, and it works. But, even if you’re not too enamored with the idea of Strange Boys going soft on you, you can find the same fuzz and sway on tracks like “Hidden Meaning, Soul Graffiti” or just listen closely to any of the other 13 songs on the record, those fuzzy-garage ideas are still there, only partnered with new ideas and new instrumentation.

In the end, the album culminates with the short “Opus.” Now, by no means is this opus as large scale as the name would imply, but it’s a nice way to end the album. It’s almost like a stripped down attempt at a short pop-guitar symphony, a little added bonus two minutes of pleasant outro solace. Imagining the Strange Boys conducting a little symphony in a garage is nice, isn’t it?

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