After a breakthrough 2009 that saw them earn comparisons to The Arcade Fire and Neutral Milk Hotel, capture SXSW buzz playing on a bill with Grizzly Bear, sell out a tour, sign to Saddle Creek, and score a “Breaking Out” featuring in SPIN, The Rural Alberta Advantage are poised to explode in 2011 with the March 1 release of Departing.
With their new album, the band further refines the exuberant guitar work; everything-on-the-table singing; songwriting full of conviction and detail; and majestic, keyboard-sprinkled arrangements that have won them so many fans. Departing strings together themes of small towns, Canadian fall and winter, break ups, and redemption and serves as a companion piece to their beloved debut album Hometowns. Highlights include the affecting “North Star,” the stark regret of “Tornado,” and the storming, percussive surge of “Stamp”.
The group consists of singer/guitarist Nils Edenloff, also the chief writer in the group; Paul Banwatt, whose raucous percussion pushes the songs into overdrive; and multi-instrumental Amy Cole, who provides keys, percussion, and backing vocals. Borrowing a regional slogan, Edenloff grew up in rural Fort McMurray, Alberta, and draws on his experiences there in his songwriting.
About their debut, Pitchfork Media gave it an 8.0, raving that “songs this good deserve to be heard by audiences as large as their sonic scope.” Meanwhile, All Music Guide said, “If there was an award for ‘Most likeable album of 2009,’ RAA would win by a landslide… Can’t wait to hear the next one.”