It’s not surprising that The Rural Alberta Advantage, a
roughhewn, somewhat out-of-kilter combo from — where else? – rural Alberta, should
find themselves ensconced on the feisty independent Saddle Creek label,
launching point for Tokyo Police Club, Cursive and, of course, the ever-elusive
Bright Eyes. After all, it’s a company known for launching artists who often
come across as slightly askew, a description that fits this band to a tee. How better to describe a trio whose musical
MO finds an unlikely juxtaposition of forlorn folky vocals with drums and
percussion that sometimes sound like Keith Moon on steroids. And yet, it’s an approach that’s oddly
effective, one that resembles the skittish, occasionally unwieldy sound dangled
by the Avett Brothers, Low Anthem and other bands that meld a quaint log cabin
ambiance to a distinctive stutter and shuffle.
That said, first time listeners are likely to be somewhat
startled by a style that seems out of sync.
The group’s self-penned theme song, “The Ballads of the RAA”,” the
frantic surge of “The Dethbridge in Lethbridge,” the brash “Edmonton” and frenetic
“The Deadroads” and “Drain the Blood” add urgency to singer/songwriter Nils
Edenloff’s lofty laments. An occasional
cello, trumpet and willowy backing vocal adds nuance, but with the exception of
the mellow, meandering “The Air,” the urgent intensity remains unabated. It’s an interesting brew, one that provides
The Rural Alberta Advantage with the added benefit of being tagged as one of
the buzz bands of the year.
tracks: “Rush Apart,” “The Air” LEE ZIMMERMAN