As might be expected from their band's name, the members of the Rural Alberta Advantage grew up in the Canadian province of Alberta. What the trio cultivated from such a chilly (and at times isolated) existence is an unselfconscious sound, one that's devoid of artifice or trends. Hometowns, the Toronto band's 2008 debut, is an amalgam of stomping campfire folk, heartworn indie rock and frosty alt-country. With its droning organ, syncopated percussion and sleepy-eyed vocals, "Sleep All Day" could be a Yo La Tengo album cut, while the insistent tempos and rich, patchwork percussion resemble the Arcade Fire stripped of its preacher's robes. Comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel are lazy at best, and seemingly based only upon Niles Edenloff's nasally vocals and some rickety acoustic moments. Mountain Goat main man John Darnielle's storytelling warble and eye for detail are far better touchstones; RAA's songs zero in on the emotional minutiae of everyday life with clarity and grace.
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