With a name like The Rural Alberta Advantage and a dÃ©but album called Hometowns you would be forgiven for expecting a folk/country band singing wistful indie folk tunes about where they grew up. However, although this Toronto-based three piece do sing songs about their home towns whilst playing acoustic instruments, this is not your typical country album.
Though there are some undeniably country influences on the album, what really makes it stand out are the drums. Paul Banwatt’s drumming is incessant and energetic and on many of the songs is at the centre of the mix, leading the songs in a way you don’t often hear.
But it’s not all about the drums, as they are wonderfully arranged alongside quirky synthesizers and twangy acoustic guitar, and these elements superbly accompany the rasping delivery of the heartfelt lyrics by Nils Edenloff.
There is an intensity and energy present throughout the album, whether it is in the fervent drumming on tracks like ‘The Dethbridge in Lethbridge‘ or in the absorbing, deeply personal, lyrics that regularly touch on the topics of love, loss and the feelings of broken-heartedness. Even when the tempo slows on tracks like ‘The Air‘ or ‘Sleep All Day‘ you can still feel the passion within the music, and in fact perhaps evenÂ more so.
An easy comparison could be made between The Rural Alberta Advantage and Neutral Milk Hotel with their fuzzy acoustic indie folk tunes and emotional delivery of sincere lyrics, but The Rural Alberta Advantage are much more than a clone. Again the vigorous drumming stands out, as does the bands obvious interest in the electro pop-side of music. It’s almost like a much more heartfelt Death Cab For Cutie, with a manic octopus on drums. The Rural Alberta Advantage pull together all the different strands present to create a personal, moving, enthusiastic, passionate album that rises and falls throughout but never lets go of your heart strings.
Hometowns was originally self released last year, and growing interest in the band after the release saw them get picked up by Saddle Creek who re-released the album earlier this year. A proper label release should hopefully see the interest in The Rural Alberta Advantage grow further, as this is definitely a band to keep an eye on.
1. The Ballad Of The RAA
2. Rush Apart
3. The Dethbridge In Lethbridge
4. Don’t Haunt This Place
5. The Deadroads
6. Drain The Blood
8. Frank, AB
9. The Air
10. Sleep All Day
11. Four Night Rider
13. In The Summertime
‘Edmonton’ Live, courtesy of HearYa: