The Rural Alberta Advantage
Hometowns


4.5
superb

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
March 13th, 2009 | 64 replies | 12,889 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Genuine, unique vocals telling heartfelt narratives of rural Canada- what else could you possibly ask for?

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

First listens are very important. I’m sure everyone has that one album that the first time they heard it, it just struck them. POW! (The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place). WAM! (OK Computer). BAM! (As The Roots Undo). That last one might hurt a little more than the rest, but we’ve all had that feeling. Maybe it was more because of my emotional state at the time of first listen, but The Rural Alberta Advantage's Hometowns gave me one of those feelings; like, “Hey, you’re gonna really like this album for a really long time.” Hailing from none other than Alberta, Canada, (I didn’t see it coming either), the RAA are an unsigned indie-rock band on the rise. On first listen, it struck me how similar Hometowns is to the indie behemoths Neutral Milk Hotel's mangum opus In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. If by some unfortunate accident I had gone blind before listening to this, it would have been difficult to differentiate between Hometowns and a new NMH record with more percussion. While Hometowns is very similar to this eminent classic, the RAA have a way to go before they reach this sublime status.

To reiterate myself and put it simply, this sounds strikingly similar to NMH with a few quirks here and there. One of the largest differences is the percussion. One of this album’s greatest strengths is the driving force behind almost every one of their songs- the drums. “Don’t Haunt This Place” is a distinct example. Almost reminiscent of The National’s Boxer, the drum work is superb. While I remain on the subject of “Don’t Haunt this Place,” I may as well mention another one of the quirks that is a little more polarizing- the duel vocals. Amy Cole makes herself known throughout Hometowns with her addition of backup vocals. While this may appeal to some, I found it to be a hindrance. The RAA’s intimate and natural sound feels cluttered when Amy’s voice is added.

Besides, anything that encumbers hearing lead singer’s Nils Edenloff’s vocals can’t be too valuable, right? His heartfelt and genuine voice resembles that of Jeff Mangum’s note for note, hence the similarity between the RAA and NMH. Describing himself as a “non-singer’s singer,” Nils’ voice is perfect for the tales of his bucolic Canadian roots. Borderline folksy at times, his narratives make you wish you grew up in a small Canadian one horse town. This becomes absolutely clear on the heartbreaking “Frank AB,” an anecdotal song about a mining town tragedy that buried the town of Frank. Nils’ vocals adequately convey the heartbreak, “Under the rubble/ the mountain that tumbled/ I'll hold you forever/ I'll hold you forever.” Another touching moment on Hometowns comes in on the closer, “In the Summertime.” Nils’ coos "And once in a while/ I know our hearts beat out of time/ and once in a while/ I know they'll fall back in line.” His lyrics, while not terribly complex or dense, are light enough to be easily comprehended while being heavy enough to convey his message. Some other notable tracks are “Four Night Rider,” with its powerful percussion, and the breathtaking “Luciana.”

Where this album falls just inches short is in the diversity division. While the Rural Alberta Advantage establishes a great rhythm and flow in Hometowns, it could have prospered from a little more variety. Don’t be mistaken though, Hometowns has staying power. The genuine vocals, appealing storytelling, and overall spontaneity and explosiveness will keep anybody coming back for sure. This was the case for me anyway. That introduction up there was written about four weeks ago; Hometowns is still a regular play. All I can do now is pray that the Rural Alberta Advantage does not follow the same self-destructive path as Neutral Milk Hotel.

Recommended tracks:
Frank AB
Luciana
The Deathbridge in Lethbridge
Edmonton



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user ratings (133)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Carter Vance (4)
Canadian band's debut is warm, nostalgic, and wonderful....

Blair Chopin (4.5)
Home can be anywhere if that place is defined eloquently enough...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
March 13th 2009



19939 Comments


So yea, third review and I haven't reviewed anything less than a 4, I should probably dislike something.

Digging: Natural Snow Buildings - The Night Country

SeaAnemone
March 13th 2009



19939 Comments


Also,stupid question, how do I add italics and bold? It doesn't show up in the copy/paste from Word.

taylormemer
March 13th 2009



4916 Comments


You need to use standard BB Code.
[letter]insert text here[/letter]
I, is italicise
B, is bold
U, is underline
L, links to band names only.
So just place the letter codes before and after the text in question to format it to the way you like. In most cases for any review, you only ever need to italicise and band link. Bolding looks ugly, underlining looks pretty bad to. I need to go through my onder reviews and remove the few I did.

SeaAnemone
March 13th 2009



19939 Comments


thanks- big help

taylormemer
March 13th 2009



4916 Comments


If you're going to band link, don'y include the " 's ", because Sputnik will try and find a band called The National's instead of The National

SeaAnemone
March 13th 2009



19939 Comments


Gotcha... it's better now.

Burn2Burn
March 13th 2009



2378 Comments


This is relevant to my interests because I live in Lethbridge, while my parents live in a town near Frank. I have no idea why I haven't heard of this band...

SeaAnemone
March 13th 2009



19939 Comments


Yea, I don't live anywhere near there, but apparently they're pretty big.

gaslightanthem
March 13th 2009



5209 Comments


I may well check this out as both NMH & The National rule and with there being similarities I don't think I will be able to resist.

SeaAnemone
March 13th 2009



19939 Comments


Yea... I'd say minus the extreme emotional effect that NMH had on me, this is pretty similar. It's eerie how similar the vocals are.

flamethisuser
March 13th 2009



395 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

edmonton's a bore

thebhoy
Emeritus
March 13th 2009



4459 Comments


I listened to a bit of their MySpace stuff and wasn't really blown away. However I trust your judgement SeaAnemone and I will check these guys out.

YouAreMySilence
March 13th 2009



3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Living in Brooks, Alberta I don't find that there is any rural Alberta advantage but this album is Christlike.

Yotimi
March 14th 2009



6457 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a very good album. You pretty much hit the nail on the head with the description of being like NMH with crazy drumming but not quite the emotional impact. My fave track is Drain the Blood though, which wasn't mentioned.

Digging: Millie and Andrea - Drop The Vowels

BenJammin
March 14th 2009



12 Comments


I really like this album. I'll give it a few good listen-throughs.

StickmanSouffle
April 30th 2009



286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

These guys are gonna be big. I can feel it in my bones.

YouAreMySilence
June 6th 2009



3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Don't This Place is perfect.

SeaAnemone
July 2nd 2009



19939 Comments


The RAA was picked up by Saddle Creek Records (Cursive, Tokyo Police Club) and is being released on the 7th. Check it out if you're smart.

Yotimi
July 7th 2009



6457 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pitchfork just reviewed and gave it a solid 8.0. Very similar review too - they compare it to NMH with more vigorous drumming and electro-pop elements.

YouAreMySilence
September 8th 2009



3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They could do without songs like The Air and Sleep All Day though.



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