Micky & the Motorcars

Ain't in It for the Money

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Micky & the Motorcars play straight-ahead alternative country-rock, delivering weary tales of lost chances, romantic misfires and lonely moments with just enough pop edge to place them somewhere between Steve Earle and R.E.M., although they lack (or avoid) the former's political agenda and the latter's elliptical approach to lyrics. Lead singer Micky Braun's autumnal baritone gives songs like "July, You're a Woman," "Ain't in It for the Money," and the strong ballad that closes the album, "Holdin' On, Long Gone," a kind of exhausted resiliency, and if the group takes few chances, they also don't fly off the road, either, giving this, their second album, a comfortable unity of tone. One of the obvious highlights here is the deadpan "Miserable Year," which is essentially a litany of my-dog-died reasons for being emotionally down and out, and includes the wonderful lyrics "then my roommate said he was moving/he'd fallen in love." Micky & the Motorcars don't push the boundaries of alt-country too much, but in the end, that is a big part of their charm, and they're just fresh enough to make these songs of emotional exhaustion sound oddly hopeful.

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