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Hometowns
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2010
This is another lovely discovery that came to me via those lovely folks at Last FM. My lack of keeping up to date with music via music rags and blogs means I seem to get time-warped periodically and then lie under a weight of decent music plumetting upon me in one rather large avalanche. Ah well, it does mean that my enthusiasm is repeatedly stirred though I do get rather overeffusive from time to time! Anyway - back to it. These three hail from Canada and take their influence from much of the good music produced there and south of the border over the last 10-12 years. They owe a lot to Arcade Fire both in the fact that folks spend their time listening to obscure Canadian bands nowadays where before they may have slipped stealthily beneath the radar and in the fact that well, Arcade Fire made serious folk/indie music about soul-searching and love and loss eminently saleable. This is, like Arcade Fire's 'Funeral', a very personal rendition of life in the 'Hometowns' of Alberta. And they do personal reflection very well indeed. There are a plathora of influences at work here - Arcade Fire surely ('Sleep all Day'), Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (especially on the opener, Neutral Milk Hotel on 'Luciana' especially but also on 'The Air' and 'Four Night Rider'. To be honest Edenloff's vocals sound a lot like Jeff Mangum and that's no bad thing. The vocals sound similar I guess in part because both Rural Alberta and Neutral Milk Hotel sing above all with honesty and a lack of knowing irony that wouldn't go amiss with a lot more bands.... This is beautifully realised, heartfelt lo-fi music. They deserve success and hopefully they'll get it. (9/10)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Any band that can adapt and perform a brilliant version of Survivor's horrible "Rocky" anthem "The Eye of the Tiger" and turn it into a heartfelt country ballad must have something going for them and many thanks to Mike Wheeler for championing them on this website. Our friends at Amazon tell us that this album is due for release in May 2010? If so this will actually be its third outing since it was originally self-released in early 2008 by the band, then they signed to Conor Oberst's Saddle Creek stable who re-released "Hometowns" in July 2009.

The Rural Alberta Advantage are basically a indie rock trio from Toronto made up of Paul Banwatt, Amy Cole, and Nils Eddenloff. The emphasis here is on songs and their music is original yet accessible. It also grows on every listen, so let me get the cliché out immediately "there is not a band song on this album" (although see below), indeed some are outright classics. Lead singer Nils Edenloff's hasn't got the strongest voice on the planet but its honest and full of emotion and unsurprising therefore that it has lead to comparisons with Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel. Likewise there is a nice ramshackle feel to the production of this album which again has resonance with "In the aeroplane over the sea" and the joyous "Luciana" does bear a passing resemblance to "Holland, 1914" (indeed I think the version of Luciana on the bands Hear Ya Live session is slightly better than the album version). That said you could also name check Okkervil River, the Shins and Beirut as influences and "Hometowns" ultimately ploughs its own very rural furrow.

The band themselves tell us on their website that they sing about "summers in the Rockies and winters on the farm, ice breakups in the spring time and the oil boom's charm, the mine workers on compressed, the equally depressed, the city's slow growth and the country's wild rose". Thus the wonderful "Frank AB", is about a mining disaster in the town of the same name, quite how the band manage to turn this theme into such a an excellent melodic song is awe inspiring although you are fully reminded of of its poignancy in the closing chant of "Under the rubble, of a mountain that crumbled, I will hold you forever.

Other highlights include the lowbeat summer anthem entitled of course "In the summertime" which there are equally lovely acoustic versions available on the net. "Edmonton" is a glorious pop song which skips along at real pace and will have you singing it out loud when it soundtracks the forthcoming barbecue season. "Four night rider" is in same category and one of the best on the album. "Don't haunt this place" has a shuffling drum beat and throughout the album is full of awesome percussion. The harmonies on this song are also excellent and display a playful sonic ingenuity. Jeff Mangum would be green with envy on the vocal underpinning "Deathbridge in Leathbridge" while "Rush Apart" is a an excellent alt country romp somewhat reminiscent of the Mountain Goats. Overall them a truly excellent album, although I will contradict my earlier point because "The Air" and "Sleep All Day" only just about cut it. Who knows what energy is lost when a talented young band like this enters the studio, but in the case of "Hometowns" static electricity must have abounded since it is a crackling debut.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2010
Just brilliant. A beautiful series of songs set to frenetic pounding drums. Calls to mind Neutral Milk Hotel among others but its a thing of its own. Highlights include Don't Haunt This Place, Drain the Blood, especially Four Night Rider but to be honest there's not a bad track. I haven't found an album I've loved this immediatley in ages. Get It!!
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on 5 January 2010
Great album, one of those lps that just gets better and better after each track.
Definitely my fav find in 2009, of course it all falls down to personal music taste.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2011
Every now an then you stumble across a band that makes everything else sound inferior. Thats what this band has done for me. :) Not a bad track In my opinion. If your a fan of Neutral Milk Hotel/Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or smashing pumpkins then you really need to hear this album. Its honestly the best thing I've heard in a long time! Its been on heavy rotation along with The Tallest man On Earth who you should also check out. TMOE Is very different but lyrically both these artists are unmatched In greatness. This band is the real deal!!!
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