Thursday, June 4, 2009

Album Reviews: Ear Pwr / Rural Alberta Advantage

Ear Pwr - Super Animal Brothers III

Strangled brass whizzles and whees atop a beat that sounds like a meth-addled, spark-spurting robot pounding roto-tombs like bongos and synthy-howls whirling melodies rampant like a disco hustle set to 4X fast-forward. This definitely ain’t no breakfast album. You’re fresh out of the shower, still steaming and juking your shoulders all around in some rev up for glitzy goings-ons at a non-stop dance party. Everything’s glowing on this record – the proper aesthetic, (as of late) for much of the Baltimore affair. Like a (proudly) monstrous hybrid of twee, krautrock and uber-glammed dance-pop on speed – Ear Pwr could be the disco answer to Death Set’s punk – high-pitch childlike vocals rousing up some carefree pogo anthem. It might get on some nerves (“Cats Is People Too” is the title of one jam, and the squeegee synths and shambly drums just…don’t…stop…) but for others, it can be an invigorating, heart-racing bounce fest through the rainbow splotched, gravity-less moonwalk. I don't know about all this hurried harrah, cute-spaz stuff..., sometimes feeling like being shit-faced on sugar and not tequila..., maybe it's the hop-scotch-in' sister of Crystal Castles...

Rural Alberta Advantage - Hometowns

I think that it’s potentially more than singer Nils Edenloff’s mid-whine-wavering tones resembling that of Jeff Mangum’s distinct vocal burn that draws comparisons between his trio (Rural Alberta Advantage) to that of Mangum’s aristocratic indie-rock project (Neutral Milk Hotel). It’s that they seem to burn with the same realness…brisk like unforgiving winter morning air, like bags under the eyes, like sun glaring in through the windshield after a whole night of driving – this is an invigorating record of often-hard pounding rhythms, finger-blistering strums, clankety bangs and slams and horns blaring all wild like tents blown over in a windstorm. You’ll read all over the blog-ready buzz of RAA’s cinderella story of self-releasing this full length last year to a growing clamber online excitement that led to Saddle Creek records picking it up for a re-release and thus leading into their joining Grizzly Bear at this year’s SXSW…and thus, as it always goes, an indie rock star is born.

Soothing in melody, but visceral in presentation, like the way a bristly bearded wanderer can look stately, or the way one lantern in the window can feel romantic. The production is raw at times, like the cold scuff of the pavement or the slam of a broken screen door, but it gets into your bones and its hard not to get up and shake and shimmy along to these somewhat-folk-ish rockers collected here… And yes, they use brass too…so let the Neutral Milk Hotel comparisons continue…, just give it a fair shake… And if the name sounds ostentatious, maybe it comforts you that Edenloff really is from rural Alberta.

The Rural Alberta Advantage - Don't Haunt This Place

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