Live Music (Rough Trade)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Oct. 28, 2011
Strange BoysLive Music (Rough Trade)
The Strange Boys always make it look effortless – as in putting in less effort. It's part of their slick slacker charm, daring listeners to dismiss them based on their lackadaisical lilt, which belies just how precisely arranged and executed the Austin quartet's Garage&B sound is. Third LP and Rough Trade debut Live Music – the first half recorded locally in April at the home of producer and Spoon drummer Jim Eno, and side two of the studio LP cut last December in Southern California – opens with the roguish piano line of "Me and You" that simultaneously pops like a spark and settles lazily into Ryan Sambol's moaning vocals, setting up the freewheeling aura that permeates the A-side. "Walking Two by Two" paces a weaving swagger to the building roll of "Punk's Pajamas," while "You and Me" drawls sleepy-eyed romanticism and "Mama Shelter" riffs Rolling Stones into the Boys' dirty living room world. The flip side delivers more mellow across "My Life Beats Me" and "Right Before." There's an earnestness obfuscated by Sambol's vocals that strikes as protective nonchalance, but the poignancy remains.