Best Hard-to-Categorize Roots-Rock Band
The East Bay is home to one of the Bay Area's (and the West Coast's) most underrated roots-rockin' combos, the Naked Barbies. At it for seventeen years, the Barbies (originally the Naked Barbie Dolls, but Mattel objected) sound like few other bands for two reasons: 1) They've so thoroughly woven their influences (the Band, Dusty Springfield, mid-1960s Dylan, Tammy Wynette, and AM radio circa 1967-'72) into their overall approach; and 2) Singer and chief songwriter Patty Spiglanin has one of the most distinctive voices in American music. Spiglanin's vocals are not that of a college-age waif or bitch-goddess, but of a full-grown, been-'round-the-block adult woman. The Barbies still gig semi-regularly, Patty is working on a solo set, and any/all of their albums are worth owning, especially their latest, Stay Naked (on their own NBD label).