The Rural Alberta Advantage

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It was 7 years ago that Rural Alberta Advantage blew my doors off with their debut. This track is the best thing I’ve heard them do since, really reminding me of their debut. I really love this song, a tune about the wildfires that led to the evacuation of Fort McMurray, a town that lead singer Nils Edenloff called home for a while.

Combined with the track they released last year, White Lights, I can’t wait to hear their new album. Here’s a little something that lead singer, Nils Edenloff, had to say about the process of the new album.

“I’ve never been good about focusing on a theme or having a specific plan at the outset of a new record,” says Nils. “For me, writing music tends to be more of a constantly evolving process, like following one strange trail after another until a song has come to its general conclusion. This time around, we’re following that natural writing process more and inviting fans to come along those trails with us.”

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RAA is here

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We recently reviewed the just released Departing by The Rural Alberta Advantage. The band just released the single “North Star” as a free download. The band will be performing in Austin a SxSW. You can find them at the Brooklyn Vegan and Paste Magazine parties.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – North Star

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Theres probably nothing better to pull me out of review hibernation than the new Rural Alberta Advantage (“RAA”) album, Departing which is scheduled to be officially released on March 1st.  Loyal readers of this blog are well aware of the love that weve shown this band, and for good reason.  Their debut album, the very appropriately titled Hometowns, struck a nerve despite going largely unnoticed by a majority of the music-listening public.  I thought it was one of the top albums of 2008 (the album was originally self-released in 08 and then re-released in the U.S. under the Saddle Creek label in 2009).  The RAAs Hear Ya live session remains one of the most popular.

After my first listen of Hometowns, what immediately struck me was the heart-on-the-shirt sleeve earnestness and honesty of the music.  The melodies are well-developed, emotionally-charged and containing a foot-stomping drive helped along by some pulsating percussion.  The central theme was hometown (likely lead singer Nils Edenloffs) with stories of history, folklore, maturation, escape and, in my opinion, sentimental longing for youth.  Themes recently perfected by the Arcade Fire masterpiece The Suburbs.

Some common music elements are struck on this album, except perhaps that central theme of the debut.  Here it appears to be centered much more around relationships than hometown (although a notable exception is perhaps the track, containing the clever little play on words, “Barnes Yard”).  Some fast paced tempo shows up again on a number of tracks, probably best exemplified by “Stamp,” a track that has gotten some air time on Sirius recently.  Even the ironically-titled track “Muscle Relaxants” has a similar pace.  I also found it interesting to go back and listen to the live session from 09 as it now seems clear that the band was beginning to veer slightly in a way that is further developed on this record.  Additionally, the first track from the live session, untitled at the time, not surprisingly found its way onto this record and is now named “Coldest Days.”

The other immediate reaction that I had when listening to this album is that its production is glossier than its predecessor.  The arrangements are still somewhat sparse and a little homogeneous, but there is a “slicker feel” to the engineering, better sound quality and a little more diversity to the instrumentation.  Outside of the production though, this record, frankly, sounds quite similar to the first.  A good thing given how strong Hometown was, but possibly in need of some creative tinkering when the third album comes along to avoid staleness.  I do recommend picking this one up following its release, particularly if you enjoyed Hometown.  The band will be at SXSW again this year in March and if youre in NYC check them out at my favorite venue The Bowery Ballroom on March 10th.  They hit Chicago and Lincoln Hall on March 26th.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Stamp

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Stamp


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the rural alberta advantage

Last Saturday night reinforced the reason that I enjoy catching new bands on the way up. In the last twelve months, both the The Love Language and The Rural Alberta Advantage have released phenomenal debuts that continue to gain momentum and it was a special night catching them on the same Schubas bill.

The Love Language got things started and they haven’t skipped a beat since their sets at SxSW and our live session. They fired out with the same passion that absolutely blew me away when I saw them in Austin. Working in some new tunes along with favorites Lalita, Manteo and Providence, the band turned a crowd that was mostly there for the RAA into immediate fans. I’m not sure what The Love Language has brewing for their next album, but it’s already at the top of my most anticipated albums of 2010. Each new tune that played was incredible.

Then the RAA hit the stage. When you think about the year this band has had, well, it’s sort of an indie music fairytale. From eMusic plucking them out as a featured artist, to opening for Grizzly Beat at SxSW, the threesome has combined their good fortune with an amazing DIY album into a new label, Saddle Creek, and a steadily growing legion of fans.

Working in an Abba tune and “Eye of The Tiger,” the band played an amazing set featuring most of the tunes of Hometowns. Countless times during the set, Nils seemed blown away that they were playing to a packed house at the best venue in Chicago. While many bands will utter the words “Thank You” during a set, I have never seen a band that seemed more sincere in their appreciation. They punctuated their set by stepping out from behind the mics and doing an amazing acoustic version of a tune called “Good Night.” It was out of this world.

On their debut album, the band seems to wrestle with their love and disdain of their home province and it’s a poignant perspective.‚  As they continue to grow and see the world, it will be interesting to hear their take on the new things they experience.

Truly a great night of music by two special bands that are most certainly going places.

HearYa Live Session #44 – The Rural Alberta Advantage

Exclusive: The Rural Alberta Advantage – Untitled New Song

Exclusive: The Rural Alberta Advantage – Rush Apart

Exclusive: The Rural Alberta Advantage – Luciana

Exclusive: The Rural Alberta Advantage – Edmonton

Download the entire session as a zip.

HearYa Live Session 45 – The Love Language

Exclusive: Love Language – Nocturne

Exclusive: Love Language – Providence

Exclusive: Love Language – Manteo

Exclusive: Love Language – Blue Angel (Unreleased)

Exclusive: Love Language – Graycourt

Download all the tracks as a zip file.

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Congratulations to The Rural Alberta Advantage! Just signed to Saddle Creek

April 30, 2009

HearYa Live Session alumni, The Rural Alberta Advantage, just signed to Saddle Creek Records! We wish them all the best. Others on Saddle Creek include Bright Eyes, Cursive, Tokyo Police Club and Two Gallants. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Don’t Haunt This Place Here’s all the stuff from our session: Exclusive: The Rural Alberta Advantage […]

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HearYa Live Session 44: The Rural Alberta Advantage

April 14, 2009

The Rural Alberta Advantage self-released their debut album, the appropriately-titled Hometowns, in 2008, which registered as one of the pleasant surprises of last year. RAA are a three-member group based out of Toronto, although their lead vocalist, Nils Edenloff, and many of the storylines behind their music actually hail from the cold, windswept Canadian province […]

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Top 50 Albums of 2008 [Picks 21-30]

December 17, 2008

We’re knee deep into the top 25 albums of 2008 and this batch features two bands from Alive Records – Left Lane Cruiser and Hacienda. The Rural Alberta Advantage was arguably our biggest surprise of the year, building buzz with nothing more than their music – no label, no publicist.‚ ‚  The Morning Benders and Sam […]

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The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns

December 8, 2008

I have to thank eMusic for the discovery of The Rural Alberta Advantage. They told me I would like it. I resisted, but they persisted. I tried to hide, but emails, front page reviews, phone calls in the middle of the night…alright, alright eMusic. I will download your Rural Alberta Advantage. Please just stop. I […]

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