Great Lake Swimmers, Neko Case and the Deep Dark Woods Take the Top Spots in Exclaim!'s Best Wood, Wires and Whiskey Albums of 2009

Great Lake Swimmers, Neko Case and the Deep Dark Woods Take the Top Spots in Exclaim!'s Best Wood, Wires and Whiskey Albums of 2009
It was hardly a surprise to see Canadian artists dominate Wood, Wires & Whiskey's list of top ten folk albums in 2009. The shift toward a more sophisticated, folk-based songwriting style has been building over the last several years within the Canadian music scene overall, and many of the artists who have been at the forefront are now coming into their own in the studio.

Clearly, that was the case with Great Lake Swimmers, whose Lost Channels narrowly beat out Neko Case's Middle Cyclone for 2009's top spot. Taking some sonic cues from the recent acclaimed work of American counterparts Fleet Foxes and Midlake, Tony Dekker and company crafted an equally haunting and uplifting collection, inspired by some little-known Ontario historical sites.

You can listen to Great Lake Swimmers' Lost Channels here right now on Exclaim.ca, where it will be streaming all week.

While a few other perennial favourites made the list, such as Son Volt for their back-to-basics American Central Dust and Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle for their collaboration Let's Just Stay Here, the impressive number of relatively new faces gave strong indications that the Canadian roots music scene is on the cusp of a new era.

The emphasis on deconstructing folk music stereotypes seemed to be the common thread that all of these artists share, from Dan Mangan, whose Nice, Nice, Very Nice showed a lot of Bright Eyes-like poetic flair, to Timber Timbre's self-titled effort, which was criminally denied a shortlist nomination from the Polaris Music Prize.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the Wooden Sky's If I Don't Come Home You'll Know I'm Gone, an album that musically snubbed its nose at every alt-country principle without betraying its love of the pure emotional impact of artists like Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt.

The Deep Dark Woods, the Warped 45s and Amelia Curran did much the same, albeit in more straightforward ways, rounding out a list of albums that should provide plenty of rewarding discoveries to start off 2010 for those who missed them the first time around.

To see Wood, Wires & Whiskey's complete best of 2009, click here.

Great Lake Swimmers' Lost Channels will be streaming on Exclaim.ca until December 7.