'Heard You Wanna Beat Me Up'

Like every year for the past 20 or so years, I did not get to attend South by Southwest this year. I’ve read plenty enough to know that I missed several great performances. Maybe someday....

In the meantime, I’m drafting in the slipstream of the music media, picking up tidbits here and there. One such nugget is Austin’s The Strange Boys. I checked around a little before starting this post and found that a few blogs were singing their praises before this year’s SXSW appearance. Rolling Stone, back in December, called The Strange Boys their “new favorite band” after catching a show at NYC’s Mercury Lounge.

In their latest issue (the one with Lil Wayne on the cover), Rolling Stone again mentions The Strange Boys, this time as one of the breakout bands at this year’s SXSW. I can’t find the article online, and damned if I haven’t already passed my issue on, but the praise for the Strange Boys was enough to make me want to give them a listen.

The Strange Boys, lead by singer/guitarist Ryan Sambol, refer to themselves as an “R&B” band. At first I’m thinking, oh great, more pansy white soul singers. Totally wrong. The Strange Boys are R&B in the same sense that The Who used to refer to themselves as Maximum R&B. I have no idea what type of guitar Sambol plays, but it sounds so much like Pete Townshend’s old Rickenbacker, I’d almost swear The Strange Boys are coming out of 1960’s England rather than modern day Texas. I keep expecting to hear the line, "I'm the face baby, is that clear?".

The music has a classic feel to it without sounding dated or like a tribute act. Sambol’s twangy, slurred, distorted voice veers from sounding kinda-like-Paul Westerberg to kinda-like-Tom Petty. The band (Matt Hammer, drums; Philip Sambol, bass; and Greg Enlow, guitar) make a sound that draws from early Who, early Stones, early Beatles... well, you get the picture, I think.

The album, The Strange Boys... and Girls Club, is available from In the Red Records. Click over to The Strange Boys’ MySpace for the link and more info about the band. Definitely worth your time.

Heard You Wanna Beat Me Up.mp3
Probation Blues.mp3

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