Music News

Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys

There are three kind of country songs that matter: you left me, I'm leavin' you, and I'm drinkin' because you left me or I'm leavin' you.

Of course you got your variants: dancing with the big guy's wife before or after you left me or I'm leavin' you; getting drunk and missing work then getting fired and punching your boss on the way out the door (and who hasn't had that fantasy?) because you left me or I'm leavin' you; you look fine in them tight jeans and I been drinking so why don't we have us a little lovin' because it's powerful damn lonely since you left me or I'm leavin' you, et cetera.

The lean, mean honky-tonk of Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys has all these bases covered. If you like your country music all pussified, like the stuff they serve up on the radio and GAC these days (you Phil Vassar fans know who you are), don't bother with Rex and the Boys. Similarly, if you're in AA, stay the hell away from this record. Hobart makes more drinking references per minute than Shane MacGowan could muster on a good day.

But if lyrics like "I'm not drunk enough to say I love you, so won't you let me buy you another round?" ring true somewhere deep in your cheatin' heart, then give Spectacular Sadness a spin. After a few listens, you'll come to appreciate Hobbit's smooth vocals, and Solomon Hoofer's textbook pedal steel.

The first few tracks are clean, if uninspired, before things get rolling with "Bridge Burners Union," a rollicking recollection of one really bad night in the life of a dude who says he "can't stop losin', can't stop boozin', I'm gonna blow a fuse and I'm a bridge-burning son of a gun."

All the sadness, misery, and liquor come to fruition in "Barstow Barstool," a high-lonesome tune that has it all -- a broken heart, a broken car, and a long hike in the California desert. Shades of Merle Haggard. Listen to Spectacular Sadness again and again as an antidote to the likes of Shania Twain.

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Bob Whitby