The People's Key
Author: Chris Kompanek
SOMETIMES THREE IS all you need. That's what I was thinking during Rural Alberta Advantage's sold out show on Thursday night at the Bowery Ballroom. The roots-influenced indie rock trio plays with such cohesive precision as to make any addition seem irrelevant.On the face of it, they play simple, straight ahead rock, but it's so perfectly constructed that it rises above the blur of other bands due to Niles Edenloff's unrelenting melodies that are so pleasing to the ear. It's hard not to have a big smile on your face when listening to them.Hometowns, their debut full-length, was such a near-perfect album that I was a little reluctant to hear the follow up, Departing, when it was released on March 1st. Those fears were alleviated, though, when I finally took a listen prior to the concert. Songs like "The Breakup" set up a groove and then transform it in the middle of the song, building momentum early in the album that carries through the end. Songs that are instantly appealing often become tiresome after a couple listens, but Edenloff and Co. avoid this with nuanced and measured playing driven by Paul Banwatt's drumming that combines the exactness of a drum machine with wonderful expressiveness. He's quite possibly the best drummer currently in the indie rock sphere. Edenloff's vocals add a beautiful straining wail that evokes his rural Alberta hometown. This is particularly resonant on songs like "North Star", where you can almost feel the open, dark sky looming above. Amy Cole rounds out the group with a sweet voice that contrasts nicely with Edenloff's rasp. She also adds subtle textures on keyboards. Occasionally, Edenloff joins her on keyboard, adding an extra layer alternating between keys and acoustic guitar. It's clear all three love playing together, and it emanates through their music. You can hear the joy pulsing through tracks like "Tornado," which begins with solo acoustic guitar for the first verse before the drums rollickingly punch into the mix, followed closely by a fuzzy electric organ. Edenloff holds back on the verses only to launch into full thrash as he sings the chorus: "Black sky comes to take you from me / I let you know that I hold you." He sings it with such intensity that we believe him.
LP / Deluxe LP / CD / Deluxe CD / MP3