The Strange Boys

Be Brave

Last year, Austin’s The Strange Boys released their In the Red debut, a record that had more in common with rock ’n’ roll’s formative years than it did the label’s garage-punk rock roster. It’s been less than a year, and the Boys (and new girl, former Mika Miko saxophonist Jenna Thornhill-DeWitt) are already offering up album No. 2. Be Brave lacks the sock-hop pop of And Girls Club, and instead sounds as if the band spent time hanging out in a smoke-filled back room with England’s Newest Hitmakers. The more lackadaisical feel could be partly attributed to the absence of powerhouse drummer (and co-founder) Matt Hammer, who left the band last year. But what the new songs lack in energy they more than make up for in texture and intimacy. Ryan Sambol’s voice creaks like an old rocking chair on more spare folk offerings like “All You Can Hide Inside” and “Dare I Say.” And piano and organ fuel the record’s boozy blues (“Between Us”), while sax rips through on the title track. If anything, Be Brave shows that The Strange Boys are their own men/woman—which should make album No. 3 all the more interesting.