The Rural Alberta Advantage put out an excellent record last year called Hometowns, with a sound that reminded me of Neutral Milk Hotel. The record received more attention this year after the Saddle Creek picked it up for wider release, and the trio — Nils Edenloff, Amy Cole and Paul Banwat — came to Chicago last night (Sept. 26) for the second time in a couple of months. Their late show at Schubas sold out, so an early show was added. Clearly, more people are discovering this band, so expect them to be playing bigger venues in the future.
Edenloff, who grew up in Alberta and sings about his home province in some of the sings, is the singer-songwriter-guitarist-keyboardist at the center of the Rural Alberta Advantage. The strong melodies of his songs really came through during the early show at Schubas, with some lovely harmony vocals and glockenspiel or keyboard accents from Cole and energetic drumming by Banwat. These are songs you know you’ll want to hear again. The band supplemented its set with a couple of cover tunes, both of which Edenloff played as solo acoustic numbers: “S.O.S.” by ABBA (always one of the few ABBA songs I’ve really liked), and “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. Man, I didn’t expect them to play that song, but even that tune (which I always thought of as a cheesy cliche) came off pretty well.
The opening act Saturday at Schubas, the Love Language, also delivered a vibrant set of its songs. I saw this band in the spring at the Hideout, and they impressed me yet again this time, with catchy songs and plenty of energy.