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Deep Dark December Nights



    The Deep Dark Woodssound like exactly that. A country-folk band from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -- that's in Canada -- that sound so dark and lovesick you can almost envision the Canadian cliches of vast wilderness spotted with the occasional bar where you can find folks like yourself,  perched up in the corner with their banjos, an organ and pedal-steel, strumming to the blues. They play in the key of Springsteen's Nebraska, with that down-home country feel that warms you with cathartic release. 

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    The band's latest record, The Place I Left Behind, has it nailed: all the dramaticism of murder ballads, slow waltz, country croon and the blues. There's fingerpicking and lazy vocals and fiddle, and all the elements of a roots-rock band, naturally and most authentically from the North -- often seen sporting top hats and collared shirts to keep up appearances. Their live performances are often vibrant, as they maintain character, sometimes melancholy, sometimes animated, with slow burning vocals that at times sounds like the National, with hints of Neil Young. Their track "West Side Street" is a perfect example of this, starting slow and building with a rhythm, with sweeping vocal harmonies and gentle melodies. 

    The record is timeless: Ot's got a soul that withstands trends, with the use of traditional instrumentation and honest lyricism. It's a formula that has worked for most of the artists who have stuck loyal to it, including Dawes, AA Bondy, Blitzen Trapper, Robert Ellis and others. It's something that is immediately identifiable, because they sing about things that nearly everyone goes through: heartache, betrayal, loss, death and love. 

    If you're in the mood for some phenomenal country-folk, then check out the Deep Dark Woods' show at Soda Bar on Dec. 2. They're playing with The Howls, Jesse LaMonaca & the Dime Novels, and Abe West. Get your tickets here

    Nada Alic runs the San Diego-based music blog Friends With Both Arms.Follow her updates on Twitter or contact her directly.