Best Country Band - 2009
The Bikes play country music that Gram Parsons would be proud to listen to. The Deerfield fourpiece started out as an indie-rock band, but after the 2006 album Get Stolen, the Bikes took a twangy turn. The group's music has an Americana vibe reminiscent of great alt-rock bands like R.E.M., Drive-By Truckers, and Built to Spill. It's full of sullen vocals, rusty guitar licks, and assertive backbeats that you'd never confuse with contemporary pop country. But there's definitely a classic country bent to the group's lyrics: Lead singer Rick Ambrose delivers with the sort of resigned drawl that sounds as if he's sipping on a whiskey bottle midsong. And even when the Bikes do get to fiddlin', like on the track "Fumes," you never get the feeling things are headed for a hoedown — just a country-infused, slightly trippy jam session. Bands like the Bikes are the reason the alt-country genre has grown over the past few years. Let's just hope this group finishes its long-awaited follow-up album soon.
"Chainsaw Blues" from The Bikes: