Rural Alberta Advantage's new album is musically memorable

Friday, March 11, 2011; T06


Kindred spirits: Okkervil River, Neutral Milk Hotel

Show: Sunday at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. 202-388-7625. www.rockandrollhoteldc.com. $12 in advance; $14 at the door.

Rural Alberta Advantage songs have always seemed like scrapbooks that tend to reopen old wounds more than provide a source of nostalgia. With his lyrical focus on memories, home and loss, songwriter Nils Edenloff's emotionally charged songs help animate the past and let his listeners relive his experiences, melancholy as they might be.

In this respect (and in many others), the band's new album, "Departing," largely resembles its stellar 2009 debut, "Hometowns," a rollicking, poignant blast of folk-rock. On both albums, Edenloff pairs his resonant lyrics with full-on rock assaults and subtle acoustic arrangements.

On the blistering first single, "Stamp," the singer wails, "The hardest thing about this love/Is that you're never coming back" against a wall of electric guitar and drummer Paul Banwatt's signature frantic percussion.

Downbeat lyrics aside, "Departing" is just as musically memorable as its predecessor, although the up-tempo tracks are more strident and anthemic. Edenloff, Banwatt and multi-instrumentalist Amy Cole have a recognizable style: drums that flutter and pound, ringing guitars, lo-fi keyboards and Edenloff's nasal belt. It's modern Americana that happens to be made by Canadians.

- Dan Miller

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