Strange Names produce a collection of driving songs that are deceptively simple, raucously compelling and defiantly youthful. The album’s first single, “Ricochet,” is a prime example. The song addresses the push-and-pull of ideas and of people; it addresses the contradictions of love and lust—and you can dance to it.
Other tracks, like the unforgettable “Neighborhood,” use a similarly easy-to-swallow delivery to take on the idea of finding your place in the world. But nothing ever gets too heavy. Indeed, the guys strive to echo the inclusive vibe of the New Wave bands they love, groups like the B-52s, Human League and the Talking Heads that didn’t leave anyone out of their party. “We’re always fighting the avant-garde within us,” Ximenez says with a smile. “We’re trying to find a middle ground where the music sounds like us but is still accessible.”
The band recorded Use Your Time Wisely at The End in Brooklyn, New York, with producer Andrew Maury, and found the sort of sound they think best fits their music.
“When we first recorded, we did it in a large studio and it came out sounding kind of garage rock, even though that’s not our style,” Benzvi explains. This new process was in a small room, something real cozy like a blown-up version of recording in a bedroom, and we got a really clean and controlled sound.”
Since they first posted demo tracks online, buzz around Strange Names has been growing steadily. Ximenez recalls, “There was a moment in the first semester of our senior year when we were finishing our degrees but didn’t know what we were going to do with ourselves. At the same time, we’d been making music and as soon as we put it up online, we started getting emails asking, ‘What is this.’”
What those early adopters heard was the beginning of something exciting, energetic and undeniably enjoyable. Now, with the release of Use Your Time Wisely, Strange Names has made an album that not only holds on to the dynamism that’s been apparent since those early tracks but also displays their progress and undeniable forward momentum.
It’s something they think has been meant to be since they first started out. “It just seemed right,” Benzvi says. “It was what was supposed to happen.”