Something was noticeably different when the Strange Boys took the stage during the Scion Garage Fest in October—there was a strange girl among the baby-faced lads. The Austin, Texas band—whose In the Red debut, And Girls Club, has been receiving a relatively steady stream of fanfare—has gone through some changes in recent months. Drummer and founding member Matt Hammer left the fold, making way for some new strange folk in drummer Seth Densham and vocalist/saxist Jenna Thornhill DeWitt, both formerly of Mika Miko and dwellers in Los Angeles' all-ages mecca the Smell. For those familiar with the Strange Boys, it looked like an entirely different band performing onstage.
One thing that hasn't changed is the Strange Boys' firm grasp of R&B-kissed rock 'n' roll, which owes as much to the innocence of Jimmy Preston and early Beatles recordings as it does to the spastic depravity of the Stooges and the Black Lips. The new lineup hasn't hindered productivity, either. The band will release Be Brave in February, not even a year after And Girls Club. The title track is already up on the Strange Boys' MySpace—the addition of DeWitt's saxophone squawk bringing home the warm and ragged feel of a dusty old 45.
The new record came together at Costa Mesa's Distillery Studios in two short weeks, with members making use of a few different instruments including glockenspiel, piano, and organ ("We kind of use what's around, you know?" says guitarist/vocalist Ryan Sambol in a matter-of-fact tone).
It's been a pretty big year for the Boys (and girl) and it might get even bigger in 2010. The Strange Boys signed with Rough Trade, who will distribute the new record outside the States, and are already talking about upcoming tours with Make-Up founder Ian Svenonius' new project Chain and the Gang as well as Spoon. What comes after that is anyone's guess.
"The record turned out pretty good, and we've been playing some live shows and they've been fun," says Sambol. "I don't really know who's going to play in the future. I don't know what it's going to sound like. We're just going to play, you know? But, we'll be around."