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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Rural Alberta Advantage
Saddle Creek

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

July 31, 2009
The Rural Alberta Advantage. What kind of person gives a band such a moniker? Perhaps someone from rural Alberta named Nils Edenloff, who's been garnering acclaim over the past few years with Amy Cole and Paul Banwatt in Toronto's RAA; their 2008 debut Hometowns, re-released this month on Saddle Creek, is as lucid as their name is clunky.

Not that clunky band appellations have stood in the way of success before, like the tongue-twisting non-sequitur Neutral Milk Hotel. I may even posit that Mr. Edenloff claims the legendary NMH as a direct influence, and not just due to their shared rural roots in Ruston, LA. Much of Hometowns can be traced to Jeff Mangum: the nasal vocals and phrasing, the raucous instruments trying to keep up with Edenloff's urgent delivery, the low-grade production values, and most critically, the baker's dozen of beautifully atonal songs.

The sub-forty-minute romp opens with "The Ballad of the RAA," initially giving no impression of where the album is headed. LCD Soundsystem beats, tinny hi-hat, subdued organ, toy piano, and then that voice-when Edenloff blares out "We invariably left the prairies" it's like a battle cry of "we've arrived." "Ballad" steams ahead like a locomotive across the countryside, and segues perfectly into the North Americana ditty "Rush Apart," which sounds like John Fogerty waxing about "Willy and the Poor Boys."

Most of the short and sweet tunes here deal in some way with the band's roots, and calling this roots music is not too far off. Yet there is a little something extra, an exigency, that makes Hometowns more than just a homage to one's life and land. There are branches that want to sprout and blow in the hard winds on tracks like "The Deadroads," replete with ghostly "oohs" reminiscent of tunes on Arcade Fire's Funeral. There are also gorgeous respites, notably "The Air" and "Sleep All Day," that show a range of writing that's quite commendable for a debut.

The trio, with a couple of guest musicians, accomplish a lot in very little time to do it in. Right up there with other buzzing diamonds-in-the-rough like Fleet Foxes and Cave Singers, Hometowns has an earthly fragility, folksy without being folky. Score another one for Canada.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro



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