The Strange Boys: Be Brave, in "Nothing Not New"

Welcome to "Nothing Not New," a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

Artist: The Strange Boys
Title: Be Brave
Release date: February 23, 2010
Label: In the Red

The Strange Boys are part of that new-ish strain of garage rock that turns its back on fast and trashy, punk-influenced rock 'n' roll and soul in favor of stoned country and psychedelia. The Black Lips -- who showed tons of promise until last year's 200 Million Thousand let me down -- are probably the leading lights of the new breed. The Strange Boys follow in the new tradition of this kind of lo-fi, garage Americana. The band is from Austin and they've put out a pretty good record on the always-reliable In the Red record label.

The singer's got a tortured, nasal desperation in his voice -- sort of Vic Chesnutt meets Mick Jagger -- that perfectly fits this slouching music. Speaking of Jagger, The Strange Boys have studied hard on their late '60s/early '70s Rolling Stones, which certainly isn't a bad thing. On Be Brave, The Strange Boys use acoustic guitar, piano, and organ to really bring out the Stones-iness.

But this isn't ballsy and brash rock 'n' roll. These guys really don't sound like their having a great time making what should-be good-time music. In fact, they sound as though they're as unsure of the future of the rest of us are. Maybe that's why I like this record. 

Note: The Strange Boys will be performing in Phoenix on Tuesday, February 23, at the Trunk Space.

Best song: "Laugh at Sex, Not Her"
Rotation: Heavy
Deja Vu: "Factory Girl" 
I'd rather listen to: The Goodnight Loving
Grade: B+

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