Best Rock n Roll Band - 2004
Aside from the Dead, we can't think of another band as enduring as fellow locals Naked Barbies. Founded in 1990, the group has retained essentially the same lineup over three albums (four, if you count the one under the Vagabond Lovers banner): Patty Spiglanin, vocals and guitar; Mike Conner, keys, accordion, and harmonica; Evan Eustis, bass; and Dan Lashkoff, drums. The exception is guitarists, who have a recurring tendency to explode, à la Spinal Tap. (Well, not all of them blow up: Dan Vickrey now plays in Counting Crows.) Naked Barbies' sound isn't easily labeled: Its tunes are visceral and catchy as all get-out, but they're not power pop; they have sincere undertones of country, but they aren't Americana/alt-whatever. Spiglanin's songs have the dark depth and fine detail of Townes Van Zandt's, but she's not a folk-oriented, angst-filled singer/songwriter type. The group rocks the hell out of Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" and plays with the soulful poise and subtlety of the Band, but without the retro tendencies. Spiglanin has one of the most distinctive voices anywhere, heady and amber-hued, reminiscent of a fine whiskey. She sings like a mature, resolute woman, not a rebellious/ angry/randy brat or a nervous young intellectual with a guitar. Naked Barbies play thoughtful but stirring adult rock 'n' roll, although young people can dig 'em, too.