If the fashion of the moment seems to be pop and indie bands appropriating retro and roots goodness to add cool and credibility to their sound, True Strays have always made music for more honest reasons. Yes, there are a host of indie bands folking up and rock bands bluesing out at the moment in an effort to find a more discerning audience but Where The Wild Things Hide and Hunt just reminds us that this trio has always been the real deal. This isn’t the sound of a modern band cynically toying with the sounds of the past for commercial gain, this is a band born out of time. One who would be just as happy if they woke up to find that they were a bunch of jobbing raggle-taggle folk-blues wranglers playing for the dime and delight of juke joints and cowboy bars in the dustbowl days of 1930’s America. (I should imagine, but I don’t have definitive proof of that.) They then proceed to use roots sounds and a garage rock attitude to join the dots between between that era and Memphis in 1956, Detroit in 1969 and London and New York in 1977…and I guess the here and now.
Heal The Haunted pretty much sums up the authenticity of their voodoo blues – heavy of groove, instantly singable yet flecked with deft and clever sonic choices and Roll On takes those same resonant sounds and uses them to build a widescreen, big sky, cinematic feel, all sumptuous harmonies and deftly picked guitar details. Oh My Love is the perfect blend of pulsing, pacy melody and utter infectiousness and Since I Was a Boy sees them bow out with a trashy and wonderfully clattering jam style workout.
It is this last song that best sums up their real attraction. In a world of finely produced pop and cliched rock, slick and sanitised commerciality and style over substance, True Strays remind us of what is really important. Shuffling grooves and driving back beats, bass lines which demand that you dance along, wonderful slidework and singalong vocals. Everything else you can take or leave. Are True Strays a playful detour through rock history? Or maybe a bourbon-soaked bar band from hell? The evidence would suggest both, thanks to a band with the smarts, chops, and passion to make something fresh out of the expansive musical fodder that helped lay its rowdy foundation.