See “Crazy Heart” for the first time, and then meet The Molenes. The long roads across the American Southwest, the dusty sweat culture and the aesthetic of T-Bone Burnett serve as an ideal context for taking in the honky-tonk quartet’s latest, “Good Times Comin’.” No offense New England, but it’s a little odd that such locomotive mojo was bred in the Northeast corridor.

The Molenes certainly rumble and ramble with the best of them. The song “10 Pound Hammer” is heavy workman’s blues: the lead favors the lower pitches on the neck, and the mix begs for more of the diesel kick-snare pattern lurking in the background. “Penny in the Sun” feels like it might soften the blend with confected lyrics and acoustic Delta slide, but your thumbs’ll be in your belt loops before you know it, stomping along to the sneakily catchy hook.

The writing is solid throughout, and the players — Andrew Russell (bass, vocals), Bruce Derr (pedal-steel guitar) and Zach Field (drums) — can’t help their wide grins. It might help if frontman Dave Hunter spent the next decade and a half on a strict bourbon and Lucky Strikes diet, developing a raw Waits-ian growl; sometimes, his voice is unsettlingly sweet. Still, “Good Times Comin”‘ is a far cry from most of the slick schlock coming out of Nashville these days. To borrow from Bad Blake, this is real country.

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer who lives in Portland and Boston.