It may not have the oversize personalities of hip-hop or the mascara-smeared heartthrobs of emo, but there are still exciting things taking place in “Americana rock.” Broadly defined by country-inflected ’60s pioneers such as The Band and Gram Parsons, the genre has recently yielded potential future classics like Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky and My Morning Jacket’s Okonos.
One of the best current purveyors of Americana has turned out to be the Canadian group Great Lake Swimmers, whose latest album, Ongiara, is full of rock that’s contemplative without being navel-gazing and subdued without being soporific. With the most minimal of musical arrangements — guitar, bass, drums, and the occasional banjo — and the quavering vocals of lead singer-songwriter Tony Dekker, Great Lake Swimmers are able to evoke the promise of wide-open spaces and inspire a restlessness that only a distant journey can satisfy. It may be the most rewarding summer road trip you can take without leaving your chair.
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