red lights


Piss and vinegar

The Strays - Le Futur Noir
(TVT Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Nov. 3, 2006
The Strays

Review by Tony Bonyata

He may be the son of late rocker Steve Marriott (Small Faces / Humble Pie), but don't expect any of the heavily blues-laced '60s Brit rock from Toby Marriott and his new explosive trio The Strays. Totally sidestepping early Britpop, the threesome instead tap into the U.K. punk of the late '70s / early '80s on their energetic, if not altogether new sounding. debut effort, Le Futur Noir.

On this thirteen-track collection Marriott, along with L.A.-based Jeffrey Saenz and Greek-bred Dimitris Koutsiouris, tear through one high-energy rocker after another, often mirroring either the politically-charged dub reggae of The Clash ("Future Primitives," "Sirens" and "Block Alarm") or the cockney-snarl and angular post-punk of Gang of Four ("Let Down Girls"). As reminiscent as much of this is to a previous musical movement, it still, nonetheless, sounds excitingly fresh. On the cover of The Lords of the New Church's "Black Girl / White Girl" Saenz adds the piercing, unruly leads of New York Dolls' guitarist Johnny Thunders, while Marriott spits out a twisted vocal warble, no doubt inspired by the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten. By skipping the more juvenile post-Green Day generation of punk, The Strays is a truer, purer sound then so many of the so-called punk bands of the last decade.

While their roots are firmly planted in London circa-'79, they spalsh on a bit more color with some early '90s alternative rock leanings. On "Peach Acid," they add the assaulting bombast of Nirvana, while at the same time squeezing in just enough quirkiness from the Pixies to keep things interesting, and on the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am opening track, "Geneva Code," Marriott injects a matter-of-fact Kurt Cobain drawl over the ensuing mayhem.

The band briefly jumps off track for the forced, sticky pop of "This Is Forever," which would fit more comfortably in the new season of The OC than on The Clash's Sandinista!, and the song "Kill" turns out to be a classic case of form-over-function as the band rocks hard, yet ultimately without purpose - as if just going through the motions.

To The Strays' credit, however, the rest of these short and potent tracks (only two of thirteen manage to crack the three-minute mark) have enough piss and vinegar to please even the most discriminating punk.

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