The Rural Alberta Advantage was regarded as one of the best unsigned bands in Canada before indie giant Saddle Creek Records signed the group and re-released its debut album, Hometowns, earlier this year. The trio's whimsical blend of emotive indie-folk and woozy synth layers at times feels like a distorted mirror image of the vibe created by Neutral Milk Hotel's heart-on-sleeve song cycles. But RAA sets itself apart sonically with the incorporation of propulsive, in-your-face drumbeats and a nostalgic sense of longing for the wide-open spaces of home. "Don't Haunt This Place," for instance, combines spastic drumming with melancholy brushstrokes of lonely cello and a bed of dark, ambient keyboards. These unlikely combinations keep Hometowns from getting stuck in the mud of the Canadian countryside it so tenderly romanticizes.
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