[LP] THE RURAL ALBERTA ADVANTAGE are from the great white NORTH and often STAR in my itunes

will we ever take a chance or will we restart? the sky is a map that’s guiding back to my heart

♫ The Rural Alberta Advantage – North Star

The Rural Alberta Advantage’s debut album Hometowns stuck with me so long that it made my top albums list in both 2008 and 2009. To date, they are also the only band I’ve ever done a proper TBE interview with. Needless to say I am a bit of a fanboy of theirs and it’s exactly that fact that puts their sophomore effort up against some pretty ridiculous standards. Debut single “Stamp” took a little while to grow on me but eventually gained solid listening status and is now quite beloved. With that said, and a handful of listens to Departing under my belt, I can’t help but feel that RAA have lost that barely-holding-on energy that ran like wildfire through their debut. The songs were so loose and ragged that it felt they were mere beats from falling apart. Departing feels much more calculated and timid, the band plodding through the RAA playbook and Nils sounding much less like he is singing for his life. But maybe I am just too biased and like last year’s follow-up releases from Tokyo Police Club or Gaslight Anthem, this too will grow on me as my expectations cool off. “North Star” is quite a nice song, I just can’t help but hold it up to “In The Summertime” and find it lacking. I guess it’s a lot like going back to city you once lived in and expecting the same intensity of life that you remember. Everything pairs with a moment in time – with a part of our lives – that will never be repeated. Or so I keep telling myself as I come back to this album, waiting for it’s time to come.

All dramatic ramblings aside, I enjoy the album and play it regularly. “Stamp” is still a rollicking jam. “Muscle Relaxants” and “Barnes’ Yard” have a bit of that amped up folksiness that I loved on Hometowns. Truth is you’ll probably need to dive in and make your own call on this one.

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3 replies
  1. NappingDuck
    NappingDuck says:

    Hey Burning Ear,

    Long time since I’ve commented although I’ve been reading frequently and the blog is in exceptional form still.

    Gotta say, I love the new RAA album and just say them in concert a few weeks back in the DC area and they were fantastic. Check out Tornado ’87 and Good Night again.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Brandon @ TBE
    Brandon @ TBE says:

    Yeah, they kill it live! I’ve definitely not given up on them nor the album but it;s tough to match up with the impact their debut had on my ears.

    Thanks ND!

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