Artist: The Rural Alberta Advantage
Label: Saddle Creek
In a year that was met with ridiculous amounts of hype for hundreds of acts all across the web, perhaps no band met or exceeded expectations better than The Rural Alberta Advantage. The Canadians' debut effort Hometowns accomplished quite a bit for any album, freshman or otherwise-- dancing through a myriad of influences, some obvious, others less so. From Neutral Milk Hotel to The Shins to The Decemberists (and others), the young band seemingly hits on everything and the results make for an entertaining and captivating adventure into the Great White North.
Combining nostalgia with a cozy amount familiarity, Hometowns allows you to drift off and dream of a place you've never been, or never left. Tracks like "The Dethbridge in Lethbridge" and "Edmonton" harken to the band's upbringing and childhood, yet it feels like your own. And that's the album's greatest asset. As you meander about the scenery of their memories, you can't help but be enthralled by the raw emotion encased within it all. The record bases itself purely on this pride in their origins, and it shows in the flawless execution. The longing in singer Nils Edenloff's voice, the movement from low to high instrumental intensity-- everything creates the perfect mood for an effort well beyond the band's short existence.
Best Track: "Drain the Blood"
[Previously on Animal Noises: Best Albums of 2009: #5, Andrew Bird's Noble Beast]