#1. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Hometowns
(Saddle Creek, 2009)
Tamtaratamtam! The winner is The Rural Alberta Advantage. Try saying that fast three times. Or try saying that when you are drunk. Better yet, just try saying it. Than say it over and over again 'til it's stuck in your head. Then go out and tell the world about this fantastic band from, well yes you guessed it, Alberta in Canada. They are now located in Toronto. The debut album Hometowns was first self released in 2008, but first had a full release by Omaha, Nebraska's Saddle Creek in 2009. So for me this most certainly is a 2009 release.
First of all I would like to thank my wonderful girlfriend for bringing this album to our humble appartment. How she heard of the band I do not know, but what I do know is that my life would be less if I had never heard this album. In someways Hometowns give me some of the same feelings as Funeral by Arcade Fire. Not really a comparison in how it sounds, but more the feeling you go away with. As Funeral this is a album that gets better with each repeated listen.
To friends who have wondered what The Rural Alberta Advantage sounds like I have compared them to a Postal Service without electronics. That said, almost no one I have said that to have agreed with me. Some compare them to Neutral Milk Hotel which I sort of can see, but not really. So how do they sound then? I think the best way to explain the sound is to say that it is acoustic folk melodies with lots of percussion and energy. It's just bloody good music. That's what it is.
I love each and every track on this album. Before Christmas I tried to make a mixtape of my favourites of 2009 and I really struggled with which song to pick from this album. I could easily just have picked them all, but whichever I did choose it couldn't be wrong. 'Cause they are all hits in the making.
If you did put a revolver to my head, I guess I would pick "The Ballad of RAA", "The Dethbridge in Lethridge", "Don't Haunt This Place", "Frank, AB" and "In the Summertime" as my favourites. Ask me again tomorrow and I may pick completely different.
A stunning record, the best of 2009.