Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Rural Alberta Advantage

The Rural Alberta Advantage at The Music Hall of Williamsburg

I went to this show a few Tuesdays ago at Music Hall of Williamsburg, mostly because it was a free show. I also happened to be having dinner across the street. These guys are fantastic live musicians, and I really loved the show. It was the 5th concert in a row for me that week though, and I just didn't have the energy to write about it initially. Having listened to the record I bought in the weeks since then, and after having discussed it with several friends, I really had to revisit them to get down my thoughts.

RAA are a three piece from Canada, and although the name makes me cringe, I am growing increasingly fond of their record HOMETOWNS. It has a subtle charm that is somewhat hidden under the initial similarity it bears to Neutral Milk Hotel via the Arcade Fire via the Decemberists etc. Indie rock is like the mob: there are really only four or five families of indie rock at any one time. I think this has something to do with the social aspect of popular music as an art form, or maybe genres do just kill each other off. The styles that have been popular in recorded music do also seem extremely cyclical, considering its short life so far, which I think supports my hypothesis. Regardless of why it came about, the RAA does fit snugly in the lineage of the Neutral Milk Hotel family.

photo: Partick Leduc

Under close scrutiny, only one or two elements of a couple of different tracks sound like they were lifted, but they jut out noticeably in comparison to the more original and worthwhile elements to the tracks like "In The Summertime," "Drain The Blood," "Four Night Rider" and "Sleep All Day," which can be distracting. So be it. So a few elements of the songs initially sound like other bands. To save time I will just tell you that if you listen closely, you will get past that. The vocal delivery, though very Mangum-esque isn't affected and is full of emotion. The sparse landscape the band goes for at times is simple and familiar, but very effective at highlighting the various melodies. RAA is very melodic; in fact I think this is the band's strong point. The simple, folky lyrics are very poetic at times and trite at others, but overall I think this record is a success. The only free track I could find to post is the single, "Don't Haunt This Place." I think the songs I named above are the must-listen's of the record.

"Don't Haunt This Place" by The Rural Alberta Advantage download mp3 (from insound)

RAA on MySpace

Buy The Rural Alberta Advantage records!!

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