With the time change and sunshine fast approaching and the prospect of long afternoons on the lawn running into late nights at the local dive becoming more feasible, The Strange Boys arrive just in time to offer up a nice little soundtrack to your inevitably hazy Spring. And Girls Club, the first full-length offering from the Dallas-born, Austin-honed foursome, is equal parts The Kinks, Dylan, The Yardbirds and a little flare of those bluesy 50s Sun Records.
It’s kind of funny how often you might find yourself speaking of the 50s or 60s in relation to a new group and their affectations toward the heyday of pop arrangements, but with The Strange Boys the sense is this is a genuine collection of old souls growing up in the heart of Texas. Muddy Waters shows up on “To Turn A Tune Or Two” while Dave Davies shows up to give you an updated take on Kink Kontroversy’s “I Am Free” on the Boys’ “Then” Or so you might think by the sound of it. These guys have an amazing knack for writing simple rhythm and blues tunes that seem ripped right from your old record compilations. While tearing into “Probation Blues” the group channels the five live Yardbirds, and on “They’re Building The Death Camps” it’s Bringing It All Back Home-era Dylan (Ryan Sambol’s vocals in any other act would probably grate 4 minutes in, but here they ramble poetically Dylan-esque).
It’s hard to sound like you’re giving credit when consistently referencing older acts, so it must be said that And Girls Club, is undoubtedly original material with that tip of the hat to the inspiring 50s and 60s. The highlights are numerous, as with each listen another track has shimmied its way into your heart. “This Girl Taught Me A Dance” is probably the first track that will be at the forefront of your consciousness, with blistering high-end and a moment for each of the four instruments to absolutely shine. Next on your hit list is surely “Heard You Want To Beat Me Up,” a cut that is a modern tale of frightened passive-aggressiveness disguised as a golden oldie. Melody takes its turn at the forefront during “No Way For A Slave To Behave” while “Death And All The Rest” is a front seat to the whiskey soaked and smoky honkytonks of the South. Again, it’s an album of 16 hits, and at a run time of a mere 36 minutes it’s easy to just hit repeat and find a new way to love each track. Two personal favorites are “A Man You’ve Never Known” for its subtle catchiness and lazy hook, and “Poem Party” for the driving interplay between drums (provided by the aptly named Matt Hammer) and bass (easily overlooked low end, Philip Sambol).
The somewhat lo-fi production of And Girls Club gives you that nostalgia-laden warmth of an old vinyl without the frustration of non-automatic repeat, which is a great thing for The Strange Boys. Given the quick run time and the ease of beginning again this new LP will undoubtedly be found spinning through most of the days in your near future.