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REVIEW
Micky & The Motorcars - Naive

by Haley Forehand
Micky and the Motorcars - Naive

In a music industry of pop rock bullshit and teen idols, true soul is about as easy to find as a record executive willing to produce it. Mainstream radio is a sea of pop stars, “American Idols,” and re-mixes ranging from bad to worse. Guitar heroes and rock and roll legends are becoming, well, legends, but in a corner of the world called Texas, and a considerable spillage out over its borders, there is a plethora of true artists and talented musicians. Guys who play 250 dates a year, packing in sold-out crowds at venues that Los Angeles and New York have never heard of. Guys still looking at a crowd of 45 people, consisting mostly of washed up cowboys and over the hill divas who just happened into the bar the night that “some band from Texas” is up on the stage. However, they are all still doing it, and doing it with pride, soul, and integrity, and for a band who, in part, came to these parts from a much farther edge of the world in Idaho, Micky & The Motorcars have all three.

Micky and Gary Braun, brothers of Willy and Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly, all sons of western swing band artist, Muzzie Braun, were joined early on by childhood friend and musician Mark McCoy. The three were eventually joined by Shane Vannerson, drums and percussion, and the latest addition to the band, lead guitarist Kris Farrow, to become what is now Micky & The Motorcars. The band has just emerged from Cedar Creek Recording studio in Austin, Texas, to produce their fourth studio album, Naive. It is a culmination of an incredible group of artists, guest musicians and a production and engineering team, and is the first studio appearance by Kris Farrow. Cody Braun in collaboration with fellow Reckless Kelly member David Abeyta are on the production end, joined by engineering powerhouse Adam Odor, who has worked alongside Cross Canadian Ragweed, Bob Childers, Roger Creager, Doug Moreland, and Cory Morrow, to name only a few. 

A polished, incredible record, the time and effort lent to this trip to the studio does not go unnoticed. About recording Naive, lead vocalist Micky Braun says of the band’s previous studio experiences that “if a good gig came up, we had to leave the studio.” Now with ample preparation and the luxury of extra time, the band was able to work the record until it was perfect. Braun says, "... we did a lot of rehearsal, working up different arrangements and trying to figure out the right way to play them. That was kind of grueling, but it worked.” It did work, and the finished record is one of the best that will emerge this year. 

In addition to an amazing team producing the record, Naive is also a result of guest musicians and songwriters. Bukka Allen (B3 organ and piano), Micheal Ramos (pump organ), Lloyd Maines (pedal steel), Mickey Raphael (harmonica), David Abeya (12-string electric, piano, percussion), and Cody Braun (backup vocals) all appear on the record. The title track, “Niave” was actually written by the Braun brothers some time ago before coming to Texas. Of the song Micky says it is “your classic wife-cheating-on-the-husband, husband-comes-home thing. It never really panned out, so I sat back down, and we ended up getting a good rock’n’roll version.” That sound, good rock’n’roll with a very controlled edge continues throughout the album. “Grow Old,” and “Long Enough to Leave,” two other songs on the record lend really great guitars and the live energy that is captured at a live Motorcars show, while still preserving that polished, worked feel of a quality studio record.

A pretty good musician and preacher’s kid named Randy Rogers co-wrote, “Long Enough to Leave,” who’s subject matter includes some common ground for the two musicians. The song, which Braun said was originally misinterpreted by his girlfriend, is about “always being on the road, but never being able to stay.” Upon first playing it for her, she thought it was a song about “a guy who’s cheating on his wife.” Braun took a closer listen to the song and said “Wow, that does kind of make sense. I think that is what is neat about songs: people come up with their own opinions and kind of live in ‘em that way.”

Gary Braun delivers the lead vocals on the Jon Dee Graham song “Twilight.” Gary’s vocals are solid and pure and the he and the band rock-out the song with no holds barred. It is a great addition to a superb record.

Another track, “Bloodshot,” is a little more straight forward, with that hard core edgy feel that is the talent of Micky and his Motorcars, even as they all, as the song says “play it cool.” Listening to the record, you’ll hear a band at the very height of their game no matter if you have been a Motorcars fan since their first release or are hearing them for the first time. Naive, with its great list of influences and guest talents, each of which has put their own personal stamp on it, is a finished product of which they should all be proud. In addition, it is a record that will keep spinning around long after that first listen.

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