Every now and then you grab an album that you completely missed, a friend sends it your way, you put it on, and it completely floors you…. Well, apparently, there was this little band up in Alberta, Canada singing songs “about hometowns and heartbreak” that put together a thirteen song mere thirty-seven minute potential masterpiece (only time will tell, eh?) that made it’s way into my radius of awareness, and it’s all I’ve listened to since…. The band is called (appropriately enough) The Rural Alberta Advantage, or RAA, and this little nugget of gold is called Hometowns.
Now, assuming people talk about this band, many comparisons will be made to Neutral Milk Hotel and maybe a bit of Arcade Fire and god knows what else… And yes, his voice and a few songs are reminiscent of the holy grail of comparisons, a blessing and a curse for sure, as it will get people to listen, but it will get people to judge one against the other. They may be wearing their influences out there on their sleeves and it isn’t a huge stretch to see where their influences are coming from, BUT… This album is not a diet version of whatever. This album is a culmination of where they came from, where they are, and what they represent. There really is an advantage to growing up in rural Alberta, it makes the music you did get a hold of that much more special, it also creates a certain isolation that many artists have to generate on their own, secluding themselves in a cabin or whatever, giving you an opportunity to look deep in yourself for your own voice, to keep it true.
Not these guys… I think adding that certain specialness to this album, to this band, is they sound genuine. They sound like they really love the music they are playing, they truly care about what they are singing about, they aren’t trying to catch the latest trend (note, no exclamation points or the word “fuck” in their band name) or be the next hyped band, they sound, well… authentic. Like all they wanted to do was put together an album, a full listening experience, a set of stories, that, like a good novel, has a great beginning, middle, and end, and only goes on for as long as it needs to… there’s no filler here, no “singles”, nothing wasted and nothing wasteful.
Maybe I’m making too much of this, but I’ve waited until I listened about 6 or 7 times before I wrote about it, and yeah, lard only knows where it will sit when the year comes to a close, but for now, my ears, my mind, are in a kinda musical heaven… Don’t you just love that feeling?
All these things will pass
it’s the good ones that will last
Now, right here what we had
is a good thing and will last…
The Rural Alberta Advantage – 02 Rush Apart
The Rural Alberta Advantage – 03 The Dethbridge In Lethbridge
The Rural Alberta Advantage – 04 Dont Haunt This Place
The Rural Alberta Advantage – 05 The Deadroads