The Strays

Le Futur Noir

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The Strays, true to their name, meandered into L.A. from as far afield as London, England and Athens, Greece, trailing behind influences even more far flung. In fact, their moniker could equally describe their sound, as the group sweep up the styles other bands have left behind. "Geneva Code," for instance, mucks about in grunge rock, "Miracles" rather miraculously combines the Ramones with Dr. Feelgood, "Kill" delivers up some lethal rockabilly, while both "Future Primitives" and "Sirens" slide into Clash-styled roots reggae. "You Are the Evolution" boasts a Gary Glitter stomp of a rhythm, "Forever" a touch of Beatles, "Start a Riot" a whiff of Oasis, and "Peach" a bit of Pavement, the feel of Franz Ferdinand, a blink of Blur, and a wonderfully ramshackle punk edge. Space age keyboard effects, storming rock guitars (singer/guitarist Toby Marriott is the son of the late great Steve Marriott), a slash and burn approach, and juttery post-punk rhythms feed through the set, with the latter two defining the Strays' sound regardless of the eclectic style. The lyrics are militant, alienated, and angry, the themes mainly political, the aim clearly to push listeners to action or at least awareness. The songs themselves all have an urgency that virtually boil off the grooves, the melodies are equally strong, often twinned with anthemic or hook-laden choruses. Without a weak track in sight, and more than enough variety to ensure endless arguments over just which ones are the "best" songs, Futur Noir is one of the strongest debut releases of the year.

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