Paradoxically, amidst a particularly challenging recession, The Rural Alberta Advantage hasn’t faltered. Alas, economic musings of the aforementioned province may find a better place in The Globe and Mail as Paul Banwatt, Amy Cole, and Nils Edenloff only produce indie rock. Nils Edenloff, a scraggly, bearded, bright-eyed man, is responsible for the bands strained vocals that are giving Jeff Mangum a run for his money. As the only member with a distinct Albertan upbringing, Nils may appear enigmatic given that it is difficult to establish what spans a greater range – his vocals or the narrative of his hometown, Fort McMurray.
The now Toronto-based band released their debut album Hometowns in January, released being a misnomer as the album had no official method of distribution. Through word of mouth, Hometowns garnered an eMusic feature and the site offered the album as an online release – it has since ballooned to become the most successful eMusic Select album of all time. The Rural Alberta Advantage opened for Grizzly Bear at the South by Southwest Festival this year and will be touring the United States this summer; have I mentioned they are still unsigned?
The Rural Alberta Advantage has the ability to paint pictures of heartbreak in the northern prairies, the warmth of the Rocky Mountains, and capture the charm of a small mining town. It feels as if the band is capable of anything but insincerity. The trio combines playful rhythms that mirror their energetic, almost youthful naïveté with an earnest compassion. Their lively demeanour, layered rhythmic sections, and enchanting hometown tales aim for a welling heart and lead it to embrace the advantages of growing up in Alberta.
The charismatic Rural Alberta Advantage continues captivating fans and critics leaving us to question whether the Canadian prairies have produced the greatest thing since sliced bread. Nils Edenloff armed with a guitar and voice box alongside Amy Cole and Paul Banwatt bouncing back and forth on percussion march into battle, making believers of those lacking inspiration and speaking eloquently to childhood nostalgia. Some would even say they could take on a full-fledged recession.