In the summer heat, we all need a cool down.
The sweet, mellow of The Rural Alberta Advantage are here to help and to have you thinking of the dead of winter.
Let me begin by saying that I absolutely love this band. Maybe too much. They're tragically under-appreciated, according to...me.
Made up of Canadians Nels Edenloff (vocals, guitar), Amy Cole (keyboard, vocals) and Paul Banwatt (whose drums stand out in almost every song), the band sticks mostly to tours north of the border. But don't let their lack of fame fool you: this is a really good band, doing all the right things.
Their 2008 debut Hometowns always sits toward the tops of my Best Album lists. Above, check out "Don't Haunt This Place," maybe their best track overall. You'll notice the creepy, crawly vocals and the delicate but absolutely critical drums.
After a relatively disappoint sophomore effort (2011's Departing), the RAA came back in a big way.
The only time The Rural Alberta Advantage's 2014 Mended With Gold will let you down is, ironically, when you first turn it on.
"Our Love," the record's opener, starts with a sort of awkward tonal bit by Edenloff, but then it explodes into life and brilliant color.
Above, "Vulcan" is a great example of the way this band works. Edenloff usually starts things off, holding our hand as we enter the song's beef. In come the outstanding drums and the timely harmonies, and we're in it, and we don't want it to end.
"Terrified" is the best song on the record, no question about it. And they know it. If you go to their website - www.theraa.com - the song will start playing before you're able to access any content. Which is kind of weird and annoying.
But it's a really, really great tune. Again, it capitalizes on everything the trio offers: harmonies, drums, solid songwriting, and just generally sound music making.
Do I love this band a little bit too much? Maybe.
But beyond what I love about the music of The RAA, I love what they represent when I turn them on.
For most people that I play them for, they come off as a fairly standard folk group with a drummer who could play in a more famous band. Nothing groundbreaking or really all that exciting.
But to me, this is a band with life. It breaths. It says something to me, and I can't figure out what it is, and I'll listen to it a billion times before I get any closer to making sense of why I love them so much.
Why do they make me think of winter? I have no idea. But each time I turn them on they bring me to a place - namely, under a thick blanket in my living room with a cup of tea in one hand and the other hand petting my dog. I've never even had that experience with them! It's just what it says to me.