The Rural Alberta Advantage: "Don't Haunt This Place"
By Calum Marsh | 7 April 2009
Though blogged-about SXSW performances introduced the Rural Alberta Advantage to a bevy of new American fans, Toronto’s winsome folk rock three-piece has been one of Ontario’s Best Kept (Unsigned) Secrets since the release of their lovely debut LP Hometowns last year. And though it was their live show—an intimate, engaging performance topped off by an acoustic encore taken off-stage and into the crowd—that really won me over on these guys, recorded material like their album’s best track, “Don’t Haunt This Place,” holds its own just the same.
Nils Edenloff sometimes gets too Jeff Mangum-y to keep the RAA’s particular brand of sentimental pseudo-country indie rock away from comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel, but his rushed and half-mumbled delivery in the early verses contrast sharply enough with his later manic yelp to keep would-be pigeonholers at bay (for now). And that yelp sounds even better when joined by co-vocalist Amy Cole, whose contributions temporarily steer the RAA’s aesthetic likenesses away from the land of the Elephant 6 and straight into Modest Mouse-country (think the vocal juxtapositions of “Sleepwalking” or parts of “Interstate 8”). Percussion duties are taken up by none-other than the Woodhands’ Paul Banwatt, whose show-offishly good drumming—put to excellent use on last year’s dance-punk mini-masterpiece Heart Attack—prevents the best material on Hometowns from slumping into a generic country rut. There aren’t many folk rock songs with beats this memorable, but Banwatt doesn’t give a shit what genre he’s operating within as long as he’s got two working arms and a full kit. Whatever works, I guess.