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Kansas City's Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys are alt-country new traditionalists, tipping their cowboy hats back to the Bakersfield sound, with the focus on pedal-steel twang, Rex's deep voice, and playful wordplay ("I always said that nothing would come between us...but nothing just walked in the door and my promises flew out"). But a great tradition is only a barroom two-step from a cliche, and on their second album, Rex and the Boys don't ask you to take their Spectacular Sadness completely seriously; even the seemingly sincere songs, such as "The One and Lonely You" or "Barstow Barstool," are tinged with ironic hyperbole. The Misery Boys play with the conventions they love, in part for the simple pleasure of a bad pun ("Let's Keep Lying Here," with its "Suspicious Minds" echo), but mostly for the excuse to drown their sorrows in the barroom philosophy of such tunes as "I'm Not Drunk Enough." Like Junior Brown or labelmate Robbie Fulks, Hobart is having fun toying with country music conventions, and that fun is infectious.