I had sent The Rural Alberta Advantage some questions in hopes of an interview before their new album Departing dropped this month. Well, I got my hands on the album last week and it would be impossible to contain myself while waiting for a response. I had to sing their praises – now. Departing became available in Canada on Tuesday and it has been on repeat ever since. I know it’s still February, but this will be one of my tops of 2011 – hands down.

2 years ago The RAA played a Christmas show in Hamilton at The Casbah. It was the first time I was able to see them live and I was mesmerized to say the least. Watching this trio is like making a volcano in elementary school science class. You have all these separate ingredients, but once combined, you end up with something explosive. The amazing part about this band is that it’s not always the same member who is the driving force. That is what I call teamwork – being able to stand-out and support other members all at the same time. On some songs it’s Nils’ strong voice that gets me – when he gets loud, he becomes legend. Amy’s gentle voice enters songs at just at the right time, adding a haunting melody and their songs wouldn’t be the same without her piano. And there is Paul. Watching Paul on the drums is awe inspiring. It’s like when your VCR used to eat your tape and it would start to go really fast, except he’s the only one that was affected and everyone else is going at a normal speed. Incredible.

I was a huge fan of their first release Hometowns and was a fan of Nils’ ability to write so honestly about his time in Alberta and his new found appreciation for a place he once took for granted. Songs like “Edmonton”, “Frank , AB” and “The Deathbridge in Lethbridge” pay homage to this province and there was a Twitter rumour about a song called “Vulcan”, but I don’t see it on the album. What happened RAA?

The Rural Alberta Advantage – The Deathbridge in Lethbridge (Hometowns)
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/03-The-Deathbridge-In-Lethbridge.mp3|titles=The Rural Alberta Advantage – The Deathbridge In Lethbridge]

Well just like Hometowns, I can’t contain myself again. Like a 50 yr old virgin that has just be propositioned for sex – I just want to give it to ya fast. A Cole’s Notes of Departing – a quickie of highlights until I can wrap my head around all the amazingness that The RAA has to offer. Some parts slap you in the face and others are in the subtleties – something this band has perfected. In its simplest form, here is a list of some of my highlights from this album:

Two Lovers – Keeps the haunting imagery found on Hometowns with lyrics like “Your face it haunts me more than most. If I ever hold you again, I’ll hold you tight enough to crush our veins and you will die become a ghost, and haunt me till my pulse is so low.”

Under The Knife – the drum mixed with the xylophone in the middle of this track is amazing. The snare and right into cascading drum beats. Muuah!

North Star – They played this tune at the Christmas show they played in Hamilton this year and it stuck out. It’s even better on the album.

Barnes’ Yard – Possibly favourite track on the album. “Your brothers in the basement doin’ hot knives” perfect.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Barnes’ Yard (Departing)
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/08-Barnes-Yard.mp3|titles=The Rural Alberta Advantage – Barnes’ Yard]

Coldest Days – the opening guitar and then the addition of the piano is just what I was looking for. “ I held you in the coldest days, I held you in the coldest ways”

Good Night – I love when the bass drum comes in and pounds on this song. It’s such a gentle song and then this band does what it does best – builds up in all the right spots to leave you with goosebumps. I love Nils’ pronunciation in this song too. When he emphasizes his g’s on lines like “…get it together in your heart maybe we might get back together”

Then there is “Stamp”. The band’s single which was released last month and accompanied by a video that is like looking in the mirror for every listener who went to concerts as a kid – or teen or adult for that matter. Simple and perfect.

The Rural Alberta Advantage did not disappoint on this record. A review by Jim Scott said “While it’s hard to imagine The Rural Alberta Advantage dropping a classic album, it’s even harder to envision them making a bad one. The world could use a lot more bands like that.” I know this album just dropped, but I am confident in my “Tops of 2011” claim.

If you are a fan of The Rural Alberta Advantage or even if you have never heard of them, grab this album – you won’t regret it. Not only does this trio make music that will amaze you ever time you hear it, but they are humble and appreciative of all the praise they have gained. They still work their own merch table and take the time to listen to every fan say “Your album changed my life” or “I love your music, are you coming back to my town any time soon?”. They are playing a show April 29th at The Phoenix Concert Theatre and I already have my tickets, do you?

If The RAA is reading this, I do have one request. Your Christmas show in Hamilton has become a welcomed tradition here and we would love if you could keep us in mind every Holiday Season. And maybe release a version of “Little Drummer Boy”, it was the best I’d ever heard.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Happy Listening.

* If you are a member or manager of the above band and you would like your track removed, please contact us and we will swiftly oblige. Fans – new or old – please support these bands by using your coffee money to buy their records.