Mar 022011
Authors: Nic Turiciano

If your dog runs away, is that a breakup? Did your dog breakup with you? What about when you move away from home? Did you essentially breakup with your origins?

The Rural Alberta Advantage thinks so.

But then again, the whole foundation of the RAA is where the group is from. From its name to the content of the music, Alberta is in its blood.

The band’s first album, “Hometowns,” was a collection of memories from life in the lonelier parts of our northern neighbor. It was a refreshingly epic LP despite its 40-minute run-time.

While the latest album, “Departing,” sounds the same as its predecessor, it carries a very different message. The track names and lyrical content point to the tried-and-true indie rock breakup album, but unlike the others, this split isn’t between two humans.

The album is one long goodbye to Alberta. It’s sobering, certainly, but it isn’t compelling.

“Hometowns,” had a driving energy to it that never seemed to let up. Maybe the RAA’s gas tank is still empty from its first time around.

The songs sound limp and without purpose. Notably absent are the unrestrained beats from drummer Paul Banwatt. “Hometowns” was filled with his unique and forceful interpretation of what a drummer should be, but “Departing” finds Banwatt in the shadows.

“Stamp” is one of the highlights from “Departing.” Its start quickly builds into a song that will certainly be an anthem at their live shows. It has all the factors that make them a good band: a driving beat, playful harmonies and lyrics that resonate.

Unfortunately “Stamp” is the exception and not the rule.

The breakup might have been a smooth one, but RAA doesn’t seem to be better off because of it. Maybe they could take a couple months off, hang out at home and write some stronger material.

Music reviewer Nic Turiciano can be reached at

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