Music Hall of Williamsburg
The Rural Alberta Advantage

The Rural Alberta Advantage

Hospitality, Dear Lions

Sat, October 8, 2011

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

This event is 18 and over

The Rural Alberta Advantage
The Rural Alberta Advantage
In 2006 singer-songwriter Nils Edenloff, percussionist Paul Banwatt, and multi-instrumentalist Amy Cole came together to release their debut self-titled EP as The Rural Alberta Advantage. The ensuing years have brought two full-length albums (2008’s Hometowns and 2011’s Departing), widespread critical praise (SPIN, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NPR, among others), two Juno Award Nominations (Best New Group, Video of the Year), a Long List Nomination for the Polaris Music Prize, and a hard-earned reputation as one of the most impressive live bands you’ll ever see. It was through all of this that The RAA’s latest album, Mended With Gold, took shape.

The twelve songs found on the album have been filtered through these experiences and achievements, pushing them to heights previously unreached by the band. While maintaining the heartfelt lyrics, fetching melodies, and explosive percussion that won the band a loyal following worldwide and one of the highest-selling eMusic Selects albums to date with their debut, Mended With Gold makes it clear that The RAA have reached the next level. From the first moments of album opener “Our Love” it becomes unmistakable that these collective experiences has helped the band compose the most fully-realized work of their career.

Two key elements that led to this leap was the band’s road warrior status and the chance to take full advantage of their time in the studio this time around. The trio spent months shaping the songs, sometimes first on keyboard, then guitar (and visa versa), and taking others on the road to workshop live.

“We spent this past winter both touring and writing. We’d never combined the two before,” Amy reflects, “We’d try out a new song live on stage, listen to the recording of that performance the next day in the van and then repeat the whole process again the next night. I think you can really hear how the three of us came together to shape the songs on this record.”

The RAA’s long-time live sound engineer, Matt Lederman (Hayden, !!!, Besnard Lakes) was brought into the studio this time around as a key piece towards capturing the live energy of the band for these songs - something the group was intent on reflecting on this album. Teaming up with co-producer Leon Taheny (Owen Pallett, Austra, F*cked Up), the two settled into Candle Recording in Toronto to record the album.

While the sonics have now evolved, the plaintive lyrics and creative arrangements that helped define the band have remained. Standout tracks “Terrified”, “On The Rocks”, “Runners in the Night”, and “Vulcan, AB” confront ideas of love, loss, and heartbreak through the pain of going through such experiences and the person that comes out on the other side of it.

Nils recalls, “Last spring, I rented a remote cottage up in the Bruce Peninsula on the recommendation of some friends to try to do some writing for the new album. It turned out to be a pretty terrifying place to be alone with your thoughts- locals told me to watch out for black bears, the heat wasn’t working and at night it sounded like the cottage was surrounded by wolves. I slept with a pocket knife at arms-reach. It’s funny the lines that will run through your head when you’re alone like that and trying to get yourself to sleep- they inspired “To Be Scared”, which is probably one of my favorite songs on the record.”

The ideas and moods created in these songs tie back to the album title Mended With Gold, embracing the idea that the breakage and repair of an object becomes part of its unique history and ultimately makes it more valuable instead of a blemish to disguise. The Rural Alberta Advantage have taken all of their successes, losses, adventures, and heartbreaks over the past few years, and forged them together into an unforgettably powerful work of beauty.
Hospitality
Hospitality
The first thing you might notice about Hospitality’s sophomore album Trouble is what you don’t hear. The process of completing Trouble was, for the band, one of learning to accept silence, to let that empty space exist no matter what it might awaken or evoke. You could catch glimpses of these dark and unexplored places in the margins of Hospitality’s 2012 self-titled debut, but they are at the very heart of Trouble. If you listen closely, you can hear a band pushing against their own boundaries and limitations until they find the very air around them subtly but perceptibly changed.

The trio of Amber Papini (guitar, vocals), Brian Betancourt (bass), and Nathan Michel (drums) approach Trouble with the force and unity of a well-rehearsed touring rock band. They supplement their performances with strategically placed strings, synthesizers, and drum machines. But silence is an inescapable force on Trouble, an invisible fourth player that draws you into the unexplored corners of familiar sounds: the full, ghostly decay of a reverb tail, the round pluck of a bass string, the exact syllables where a doubled vocal line diverges.

In its lyrics and its musical construction, Trouble is an album that wonders about the mysteries that lurk just beyond our field of vision. Slyly and sympathetically, Papini ponders a Saturday afternoon fishing trip as a wrenching interplay of life and death, the perfect blue sky at an air show as a setting for a soured romance. Papini elaborates: “Most of the songs are about everyday environments that arouse anxiety or unease. The ocean isn’t meant for people; we aren’t supposed to be there, and some of the animals that live there are much bigger and faster than we are in the water. I think a lot of the songs deal with this ‘out of place’ kind of theme, feelings of unease and the questions of what is under you or what surrounds you.”

Trouble creates a space where conflicting sentiments and experiences are given room to coexist, where small and seemingly mundane observations pose big questions that hang in the air, unanswered and unanswerable. With a title referencing the artist’s endless struggle in the battle between creativity and outside forces, Trouble also explores the universal themes of loss, love, and loneliness with Papini’s trademark wit. Lines like “And if I’m lost and low / And need you / I’ll disconnect the line” from “Inauguration” somehow make the ultimate kiss-off seem charming, while nature makes clear the loneliness felt when leaving someone you love behind in these lines from “I Miss Your Bones”: “And all the stars will / Twinkle in the midst of a sea / Of black and lonely /An everlasting loss lack abyss.”

It’s fitting that the album was hashed out in band practices that blurred the boundaries between work and leisure, darkness and light, creative collaboration and friendship. Foregoing the usual nighttime hours kept by musicians, the band chose to work on these songs during daily morning rehearsals that proved in many ways more demanding than characteristically relaxed nighttime gatherings. Through these sessions, the band sought to take their music as far as they possibly could as a three-piece, to make sure that every small gesture fell into place and played a vital role in constructing the shape and feel of the songs.

The band carried this daylight-infused clearheadedness with them into the studio with chief arranger Nathan Michel and engineer Matt Boynton acting as co-producers. Nathan describes the process: “We really wanted to avoid the ornamental, but I always like to add more sounds. Matt was helpful in keeping the arrangements as simple and direct as possible. We all wanted the record to have a warm and open sound.” When put to tape, some of the songs for Trouble worked better than expected as fierce and focused trio performances, while others called for more substantial reimaginings. “I Miss Your Bones” emerged almost entirely from a live performance, while “Inauguration” found the band ripping apart their live arrangement and reconstructing the song with drum machines and synthesizers.


The album unfolds like a walk on the beach or a journey to a place you didn’t know you were going. Perhaps a darker sound overall, but Trouble begins with the trademark Hospitality pop then unfurls to reward the listener with the more expansive stripped-down instrumentation of side B. And here, again, is that distinctively present silence, creating a space where an undulating synthesizer feels as alive and mysterious as a single voice in a room.
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/