The Rural Alberta Advantage

The Rural Alberta Advantage

The Rural Alberta Advantage are known for their percussive folk songs about hometowns and heartbreak. In combination with their relentless tradition of touring, these songs have taken the trio from humble recognition amongst indie rock die-hards as "Canada's best unsigned band" to devoted fans around the world, not to mention featured coverage from SPIN, Pitchfork, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and NPR, among others.

The band's origins date back to 2002, when singer-songwriter Nils Edenloff moved from Fort McMurray, Alberta to Toronto, Ontario and penned a series of homesick odes to his former province. After a difficult breakup intensified his longing for home, Edenloff took his songs and his guitar to a weekly open mic night where he met drummer Paul Banwatt. The two quickly formed a musical bond, with Edenloff's plaintive folk songs backed by Banwatt's raucous, razor-sharp percussion. The twosome's arrangement became permanent as a series of other local musicians joined and left the project (by now dubbed ‘The Rural Alberta Advantage,’ courtesy of a provincial slogan co-opted by Edenloff's brother). By the time their self-titled EP was completed in 2006, the RAA had settled into its current three-piece formation, with multi-instrumentalist Amy Cole rounding out the trio on keys, percussion and backing vocals.

The Rural Alberta Advantage spent their early years committed to time on the road – building their now-stellar reputation as a relentless touring band – and writing and recording their debut full-length record, Hometowns. As the band started selling copies of Hometowns themselves at shows in early 2008, the album instantly began catching the ears of bloggers across the country on pure word-of-mouth. This homegrown hype led to a break for the band in November 2008, when a fan forwarded a blog post about the RAA to major digital music retailer eMusic. The site profiled the band as an eMusic Selects artist, exposing the band to 500,000 music fans and subscribers worldwide. Hometowns became the highest-selling Selects act to date and an instant critical darling, appearing on dozens of "Best of 2008" lists across North America and Europe, and – following a 2009 wide release through Paper Bag Records in Canada and Saddle Creek for the rest of the world – earning the band the Galaxie Rising Star award for Recording of the Year at the 2010 Canadian Music Fest Indie Awards.

Departing, the sophomore album from the Rural Alberta Advantage, was released in 2011 again via Paper Bag Records and Saddle Creek. The album saw the band further refining their sound: the exuberant guitar work; intricate percussion; everything-on-the-table, earnest vocals; and infectious, keyboard-sprinkled arrangements. With ten songs about love, loss and leaving, Departing serves as a companion piece and bookend to the exploration of themes that began on Hometowns and received a Long List Nomination for the year’s Polaris Music Prize. The Rural Alberta Advantage was also nominated for two Juno Awards: Best New Group and Video of the Year for their song “Stamp.”

The band is currently hard at work on their next album and will be previewing new material the way they love best, by hitting the road in early 2014.

Some words on The Rural Alberta Advantage:

“There's something that just makes you want to root for them -- as Edenloff introduced "Tornado '87", a song about a twister that ran through Edmonton, one of the many Canadian bros in attendance shouted: "I LOVE TORNADOS!" That's making a connection.” – Pitchfork, Coachella Festival coverage

“The intensity of like “Stamp” and “Don’t Haunt This Place” lean on Banwatt’s marathon-runner stamina and fills, and it’s safe to say the band’s great melodies wouldn’t sound the same without him.” – Paste, “The 10 Best New Rhythm Sections”

“One of the hardest things in music is for a buzz-worthy band with a strong debut album to get over the sophomore slump. With Departing, The RAA manage to make it look easy.” – The National Post, “The Best Albums of 2011 So Far”

“The crowd sang along to all the ‘oohs’ and danced to songs like ‘The Deadroads’ and ‘Frank, AB,’ even demanding an encore that would never materialize in a festival like this. Will this show rate among the weekend’s best? Too early to say, but it’s a strong contender.” – Montreal Gazette, Osheaga Festival coverage

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