Live Music marks another winner from Austin's Strange Boys, whose music isn't as unusual as their name suggests, but I wouldn't describe them as by-the-numbers either. For one thing, this isn't a live record (they intend live music as a directive, rather than a description), though it's hardly stale or over-processed.
Further, guitarist Ryan Sambol does have an odd singing style, a raspy, high-lonesome drawl. The first time I heard the band, it took me aback, but I warmed up to it soon enough. Although no one would confuse him with Mick Jagger, he and his mates do remind me of the Rolling Stones at times, particularly "Dead Flowers" and "Happy" (on which Keith Richards took a rare lead).
The Texans kick up a similar kind of laughing-through-your-tears ruckus with twang, fuzz, harmonica bleats, and New Orleans-style stride-piano patterns.
Guest musicians include guitarist Tim Presley and saxophone player Jenna Thornhill-DeWitt (Mika Miko), who join Ryan, Philip Sambol (bass), Greg Enlow (guitar), and Mike La Franchi (drums). Compared to 2010's Be Brave, the Boys come across as less agitated and more relaxed this time around, but they haven't gone soft. There's just a sense of ease that permeates the proceedings.
Side note: I listened to Live Music via stream. The first time, I didn't notice that the songs were out of order, so the second time through, I played tracks 1-14 as intended, and a good record became even better. The instrumental "Opus," for instance, definitely works better as a coda than as a break between sides. As a YouTube user so eloquently put it: Nice, sleazy indie! Likin' this shit!
Rough Trade releases Live Music on 10/25. Stream it now at The A.V. Club.