Alternative countryAlternative country, or alternative country rock (sometimes alt-country, insurgent country, or Americana) is a loosely defined subgenre of country rock, which includes acts that differ significantly in style from mainstream country music, mainstream country rock, and country pop. Alternative country artists are often influenced by alternative rock. However, the term has been used to describe country music bands and artists that are also defined as or have incorporated influences from alternative rock and cowpunk, indie rock, roots rock, bluegrass, neotraditional country, punk rock, progressive country, rockabilly, punkabilly, honky-tonk, outlaw country, folk rock, indie folk, folk revival, folk punk, hard rock, R&B, heartland rock, and Southern rock.
Definitions and characteristics
In the 1990s the term alternative country, paralleling alternative rock, began to be used to describe a diverse group of musicians and singers operating outside the traditions and industry of mainstream country music. Many eschewed the increasingly polished production values and pop sensibilities of the Nashville-dominated industry for a more lo-fi sound, frequently infused with a strong punk and rock and roll aesthetic. Lyrics may be bleak or socially aware, but also more heartfelt and less likely to use the clichés sometimes used by mainstream country musicians. In other respects, the musical styles of artists that fall within this genre often have little in common, ranging from traditional American folk music and bluegrass, through rockabilly and honky-tonk, to music that is indistinguishable from mainstream rock or country. This already broad labeling has been further confused by alternative country artists disavowing the movement, mainstream artists declaring they are part of it, and retroactive claims that past or veteran musicians are alternative country. No Depression, the best-known magazine dedicated to the genre, declared that it covered "alternative-country music (whatever that is)".