Take a look at any review of The Rural Alberta Advantage's debut, Hometowns, and the ready-made witticism what's the advantage to living in Rural Alberta?; is sure to pop up. It doesn't seem that the proud Albertans mind the question; rather, they invite and attempt to answer it through thoughtfully composed and heavily nostalgic vignettes of life in, around, and away from their own hometown. The other near-surety is the comparison, especially of RAA singer Nils Edenloff, to the fuzzy, slightly manic folk rock of Neutral Milk Hotel. While there are certainly comparisons to be found in Edenloff's gruff, wholly unselfconscious braying, and RAA's melding of gentle sweep and balls-out rush certainly evokes the ebulliently ramshackle nature of NMH's best material, this is certainly no rip off tribute band. For one thing, Hometowns is a simple album, with no hint of cryptic mysticism or vague lyrical suggestions. Nils Edenloff is a storyteller, the William Carlos Williams to Jeff Mangum's T.S. Elliot. Then there's the sheer pop-ness of RAA. Yeah, there's a hefty dose of lo-fi folk punk, but there's also a lot of straightforward melodicism and catchy pop hooks balancing the clattering surge. With Invisible Giants, the Coyotes. Photo courtesy Patrick Leduc.