I used to hate bands for sustaining one mood for an entire record. I always had this desire to sneak up behind Mazzy Star or that Cowboy Junkies chick, clunk her with a two-by-four and say, “Let’s see you whisper now, sullen chanteuses d’amour!” But I realized that since nobody ever criticizes a Stephen King novel for being persistently creepy or an Ingmar Bergman film for being one long frownfest, I oughta at least give a band credit for having its one emotion down cold. The Strange have this minor-key spookiness they maintain while their seven-song mini-album flirts with jazz, quiet prog-rock, jazz again (with a guest appearance by jazz heavyweight Marcus Belgrave) and a bit o’ lounge soul without the matching suits. Their bio gives a lot of lip service to Jeff Buckley and Radiohead, but the pensioner in me also hears a sedate Robert Plant fronting Argent, then morphing into Colin Blumstone sitting in with Coldplay while Chris Martin beats up some photographers. What the Strange change every song is the coloring behind gifted singer Brent McKay (Full disclosure: McKay works in the Metro Times sales department). This makes for a vibe that continually throbs and expands — just like a goddamned lava lamp! This album’s undeniable exquisitivity (yeah, I’m thinking it’s a word — you gonna challenge me, Roget?) should be enough to tempt anyone.
The Strange appear Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Hamtramck Festival (Joseph Campau between Caniff and Carpenter, Hamtramck) north stage. Go to hamtramckfestival.com for info.
Serene Dominic writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].