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The Rural Alberta Advantage, ‘Hometowns’ (Saddle Creek)

By: Josh Modell // September 1, 2009

Spotting influences on this Canadian band’s winning debut doesn’t take much work: “Luciana” could easily pass as an outtake from Neutral Milk Hotel’s debut, and both the Shins’ sweet winsomeness and Arcade Fire’s collective clattering poke out elsewhere. But chief architect Nils Edenloff never gets bogged down in slavish imitation. His passionate songwriting comes across as both raucous (“The Dethbridge in Lethbridge”) and gently sweet (the harmony-rich boy-girl cupcake “Don’t Haunt This Place”), consistently marked by a joyful sonic ingenuity.

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