Strange Boys, 'Be Brave' (In the Red)

Be Brave
Critical Mass
Label: In The Red

by David Menconi

When conversation turns to great rock singing voices, words like "howl," "shriek," or perhaps "croon" tend to come up. But Ryan Sambol, leader of Austin, Texas' Strange Boys, whines-there's no other word to describe his slackerly emoting, which lands somewhere between Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano and Daniel Johnston. Yet Sambol has an especially evocative whine, and it takes center-stage on this subdued, determinedly lo-fi follow-up to 2008's raucous debut The Strange Boys and Girls Club. Projecting the sense of exhaustion you feel just before a hangover kicks in, Sambol laconically endures the pain so you don't have to.

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