THE RURAL ALBERTA ADVANTAGE – Drain The Blood (7″)

Whilst purchasing my new albums for the week at Reckless Records, I decided to browse through the 7″ section, as it had been a little while since I last did, and I wanted to see what untold treasures might await me there. Well, I didn’t find much, but I did come across this curious little 7″ from The Rural Alberta Advantage, a Canadian band who’s 2009 debut Hometowns (okay, well, technically 2008 – it was reissued on Saddle Creek in 2009) has grown on me tremendously since I picked it up last year; the song Drain The Blood from that album is my favorite, and the B-side of this 7″ was a cover of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger – for $4, how could I not buy this?

One of the things that keeps drawing me back in to Hometowns as an album is that The Rural Alberta Advantage’s sound is pretty difficult to pin down; I’m trying to think of the best way to describe it now, and I came up with this: take Sam Beam from Iron & Wine, Les Savy Fav, The Postal Service and a handful of organ/string/horn flourishes, and toss them all into a blender set to the lightest mode possible. Then start blending. The problem is, of course, that any time one makes a musical “X +Y = Z” argument, you only get further from the truth the more variables you toss in to the mix. So my blender analogy doesn’t really work, as far as illustrative mechanisms go. Still, it does paint an intriguing picture of a band who’s sound is (as I mentioned earlier) delightfully unique and refined.

Now, Drain The Blood is the A-side of this release. It’s an absolutely perfect song, no question about it. It’s got a great hook, a great sense of energy and presence, and the perfect mixture of pleading and resignation in the lyrics. It’s intense. It’s brooding. It’s a song you want to play again as soon as it’s finished. This I knew going in to the purchase. What I didn’t know was what the Eye of the Tiger cover was going to be like. Was the band going match the energy of Drain The Blood with it, or no? Well, as it turns out, the answer was no. The cover is entirely acoustic, just guitar and Nils Edenloff’s vocals. It’s not what I was expecting, but as a part of a whole, this is really the perfect cover; it’s the calm yin to Drain The Blood’s ferocious yang. Eye of the Tiger, as it is presented here, is extraordinarily subdued, almost sad in its bareness. You can’t say the same about the original – I mean, it was written for Rocky III, for Christ’s sake.

The Drain The Blood 7″ has been out for awhile (January, via Saddle Creek), and if you want to get a good gauge of what this band is capable of (and you have a working vinyl player), I’d recommend picking it up if you can find a copy somewhere. And if you can’t, that’s what online stores are for. So what are you waiting for?

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