Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rural Alberta Advantage/James Vincent McMorrow /In Tall Buildings; March 24, 2011; High Noon Saloon

I very rarely buy tickets for a High Noon show more than a day in advance, preferring to wait in case I change my mind, something else (better) comes up or I somehow get free tickets, but the second I saw that the Rural Alberta Advantage was coming I bought a ticket, even though it was something like three months away. I’m not really even sure how I came to be listening to the RAA. I’d heard the name around, but I don’t know why I finally looked up their last release Hometown. I do know why I immediately fell in love with their energetic Neutral Milk Hotel sound. The similarities are instantly apparent and the comparison is inevitable, but who cares? It isn’t like Neutral Milk Hotel is making any new music.

Their new release Departing takes up where Hometowns left off, a sound that is often simple yet intense. I was surprised to see that only three people were responsible for all that noise. Lead singer Nils Edenloff is the focal point of the band. His yelping voice and frantic acoustic guitar make it difficult to look anywhere else. He doesn’t look the part of a rock star with his receding hairline and rope guitar strap but he certainly sounds it. Despite their unwieldy name (I’m not even sure Edenloff was saying each word), they certainly aren’t a secret and the High Noon was packed on a Thursday night. I’d missed several chances to see them in Austin the week before, and now I was kicking myself, because they were just as good live as the CDs would suggest.

The openers were less memorable. For instance I can’t even remember what first band in Tall Buildings sounded like, only that the lead singer was pretty and that they were from Chicago. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not even really sure they were from Chicago. I remember more about middle band James Vincent McMorrow. McMorrow seemed to be addressing each of their gentle songs to God as his eyes never met the audience, but instead were cast heavenward for the entire set. I liked some of these mellow anthems, but then that would be followed by a tedious number. It was like a combination of Bon Iver and Great Lake Swimmers, except that each band’s attributes remained separate. Boring followed by beautiful. Which actually was the story of the night.

In Tall Buildings

James Vincent McMorrow

Rural Alberta Advantage

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