Canadian Music Corner: Elliot Brood & The Rural Alberta Advantage

Brendan Kergin, Arts & Entertainment Editor Ω

Elliot Brood

Alt-country vets Elliot Brood are one of the great hidden gems in the burgeoning indie-folk genre that seems to be growing. In the last few years the indie/hipster music scene has been rocked by a wave of folk/old-school country influenced bands, and Brood is one of the reasons it’s grown so quickly.

Originating in 2002 in Toronto, the band’s first EP was recorded in a home studio with Mark Sasso and Casey Laforet as a duo and Stephen Pitkin as the producer. Sasso and Laforet worked with a variety of other musicians at first, but Pitkin eventually joined full time in 2005.

The first full-length album, Ambassador, was nominated for a 2006 Juno in the Roots and Traditional category. The follow up Mountain Meadows got the same nomination in 2009 and was also short listed for a Polaris Prize.

Mixing Pitkin’s thumping, raw percussion gives a stomping beat to most of the songs with a variety of guitars or similar instruments providing nuances. Elliot Brood has many rootsy flavours, whether it be banjos leading them down the bluegrass path, ukuleles giving them a friendly uplifting touch or an acoustic guitar with a more middle of the road sound.

Recommended if you’re looking for a Sam Roberts, Bruce Peninsula and Corb Lund crossover. The aggressive nature of Write It All Down For You may not be the most indicative of Elliot Brood’s style, but it should snare the average listener.

Taylor Rocca, Copy/Web Editor Ω

The Rural Alberta Advantage 

Despite now calling Toronto home, The Rural Alberta Advantage draws inspiration for its songs from growing up along the northern and central plains of Alberta’s beautiful prairies.

Nils Edenloff, lead singer and song-writer for this Canadian indie-folk trio, provides a unique vocal track that conveys feelings ranging from angst to love-struck and heart-broken. Keyboardist and backing vocalist Amy Cole compliments Edenloff fantastically, harmonizing in a way that makes the listener’s heart melt.

The Rural Alberta Advantage broke onto the scene in 2009 with the debut album Hometowns. The album title seems fitting as Edenloff touches on a number of Alberta towns from southern Alberta’s Lethbridge all the way north to the provincial capital in Edmonton. There aren’t enough good things to be said about this album as it truly is a gem within the Canadian folk genre. The heart-wrenching “Drain the Blood” cries to the listener as does “The Dethbridge in Lethbridge.”

On “Frank, AB,” Edenloff takes the opportunity to tell a short historical fiction of Alberta’s Frank Slide catastrophe from 1903 through the eyes of a created voice. Edenloff and Cole wail, eerie chills are sent down the listener’s spine as you can practically hear the doomed voices buried underneath the rubble in Frank.

In 2011, The Rural Alberta Advantage returned with the sophomore release Departing. After grabbing critic’s attention with Hometowns, The Rural Alberta Advantage was recognized for its stellar work within Canadian music, receiving a Long List nomination for the Polaris Music Prize.

Featured on Departing is another collection sprinkled with Alberta-inspired tracks, including “Tornado ’87” where Edenloff shares his childhood experience when a destructive twister ripped through his hometown of Edmonton in the late-1980s.

Currently on tour with Vancouver’s Dan Mangan, The Rural Alberta Advantage plays a show in Kelowna on Nov. 8.