Review Summary: Home can be anywhere if that place is defined eloquently enough
Canada. I really don't know much about Canada except for the fact that they have a healthcare system that American Michael Moore would consider trading his double cheeseburger for and that they produced Nickelback. In a geographic sense and even in a moral sense my North Carolina home is about as far from Canada as you can get and I would never anticipate something ever making me feel like Canada was "home" or even "visitable" but I guess that is the beauty of music and speaks volumes about the greatness of the Rural Alberta Advantages "Hometowns".
If music is done well enough it can make you feel like you are somewhere you are not and thats what "Hometowns" has always done for me. Its songs that sing of the cold make me feel like I am in a Canadian blizzard. This is not an easy feat to accomplish and one that is even more difficult to explain but it has something to do with the atmosphere that the music creates. The acoustic folk like sound of the music on "Hometown" gives the perfect "at home" feeling and makes you feel like you are experiencing everything the band and the singer is going through in each individual song. The drumming on this album is impeccable and is some of the best outside of The National that you will hear in the entire indie genre. While the acoustic guitar gives the songs the "down at home" atmosphere this is not quite enough to make the album anything more than good and the drumming gives the down at home feeling a boost that makes the album itself superb. The singer has a very unique voice and it may be hard to get used to on the first listen to this album. But this further conveys the unique atmosphere that the album wants to create and the vocals flow nicely with the acoustic guitar and the excellent drumming.
Another thing that helps with this atmosphere is how the listener can relate to the subject manner in the songs. If the songs were about something that was foreign to the listener then the "I feel like I'm there!" connection would not be possible and would not be one of the strengths of the album. A lot of the songs on the album deal with relationship struggles. I'm pretty sure just about everyone around the world has been through some struggles with relationships of any sort and the band does a great job of defining these struggles with solid lyricism and of course the unrivaled musicianship that is apparent throughout the album. The songs also have a reoccurring theme of growing up and dealing with loss. The songwriting once again covers these topics in the most basic but beautiful way possible. The songs do such a good job with these topics that I often listen to these songs when I am struggling with relationships and/or growing up. It always takes a talented artist to have the listener connect with the band on more than just a chorus but the entire scope of the band. I have connected with the Rural Alberta Advantage on their musicianship, lyricism, and subject manner which makes them a very special and unique band.
Another thing that always helps is when the album is filled with great songs. The album does not have many songs that "stand out" but that is mainly because all of the songs at least fall into the "very good" category. "The Ballad of the RAA" is a perfect opener that shows of all of the bands distinct talents, "Don't Haunt This Place" is an incredibly well-written and catchy song that may be one of my favorite songs ever, "The Deadroads" is the song that does the best job of setting up the "I feel like I'm there!" atmosphere, "The Air" and "Sleep All Day" are almost ballads that perfectly sum up the struggles of being in a relationship, and "In The Summertime" is an excellent closer to the album.
The Rural Alberta Advantage have officially become of the few American Airlines bands that also make superb music with "Hometowns". "Hometowns" made me feel like I was in Canada with every song that had impeccable drumming, awesome acoustics and solid subject driven song writing. If the Rural Alberta Advantage live up to the high standard that they have set with "Hometowns" look for this Canadian band to be one of the more successful bands in the Indie genre. And even if they aren't that who the hell would pass up on a free trip to Canada with great music?