The sumac chicken recipe featured by Kasey on eating/sf is rustic but elegant. It is surprising and colorful. And as a result, it is beautifully paired with the Rural Alberta Advantage’s debut album, Hometowns. The Rural Alberta Advantage began, in part, as a project by songwriter Nils Edenloff to combat his homesickness after moving from Edmonton to Toronto. Edenloff began performing his songs during an open mic gig he hosted. While hosting the open mic, he met drummer Paul Banwatt, and the two began perfecting a greater collection of tunes. After a series of other members joined and left the band, and after recording a demo, the Rural Alberta Advantage eventually settled into its current state as a trio including Amy Cole. The band entered the studio to record their debut in 2007. The result is the rustic but elegant Hometowns.
Although there are undeniable comparisons to be made to Neutal Milk Hotel (especially since Edenloff has a very Jeff Magnum-esque quality to his vocals), due to intriguing arrangements and beautiful musical compositions – the Rural Alberta Advantage are more than just pastiche. The opening track, “The Ballad of The RAA,” begins with a persistent beat and crashing tinny percussion to support Edenloff’s lyrics. The song builds like a slowly rising wave with soothing violins and increasingly skittish percussion before crashing and gently washing out with a simple acoustic guitar melody. “The Dethbridge in Lethbridge” is deliciously raucous in a floor-board stomping, hyper-charged guitar riff, throaty confrontational vocals sort of way. Banwatt’s propulsive drumming and a perfectly utilized violin drone simply owns on “Don’t Haunt This Place.” Hometowns is one of those unusually solid and cohesive debuts that flows effortlessly through thirteen concise and unique tracks. Although some tunes are better than others, there are no real significant weak-spots on Hometowns. You can head over to Insound to pick up a copy to add to your library.
Head back to eating/sf to read the recipe for the similarly rustic but elegant roasted chicken sumac pairing.