Exclaim!'s Best of 2014: Top 10 Country, Folk & Blues Albums

1. The Wooden Sky
Let's Be Ready
(Chelsea Records)

The past year was one of reinvention for the Wooden Sky. The Toronto roots-rockers ditched their label to start their own, switched up their lineup and, most noticeably, revamped their sound. While the band's first three albums might have felt at home in a living room or the front of a church, Let's Be Ready belongs in a rock club.

Of course, the Wooden Sky have been playing in those kinds of clubs all along, often reimagining their folky, acoustic-led tunes as cathartic indie rock anthems in live settings. Their latest effort is the first to properly capture the powerful, ethereal energy that the five-piece conjures onstage in the process. You won't find the raw energy of tracks like opener "Saturday Night," the airy "Our Hearts Were Young" or uplifting "When The Day Is Fresh And The Light Is New" elsewhere in the band's discography.

Nor will you find a sound quite like that of the Wooden Sky elsewhere in the scene. It wasn't really begging to be reimagined — they were always masters of packaging terrific songwriting within a moody, atmospheric aesthetic — but Let's Be Ready nevertheless took a chance, and it paid off in spades. (Luc Rinaldi)