Thursday, July 28, 2011

Album Reviews: Elway, Rural Alberta Advantage, One AM Radio

I get choked up just thinking about this clip.


I’ll admit it. The only reason I checked out this Colorado band was because they’re named after my favorite Denver Broncos quarterback. The fact that the band delivers a solid debut album is just an added bonus. The strength of “Delusions” rests in its looseness. Elway churns out barroom punk rock in the vein of Hot Water Music or early Alkaline Trio, propelled by gruff vocals and catchy hooks. Though the record walks a path littered with broken hearts, the gang-vocal “whoa-oh-ohs” give an undeniable hope that everything is going to be okay. “Delusions” may not be wildly inventive, but still makes a great first impression.

For fans of: Lawrence Arms, Gaslight Anthem
Rating: 3 of 4
Check out: Passing Days (YouTube)
(And don't forget to watch the magical moment of "The Drive" by John Elway himself, shown above.)

Rural Alberta Advantage

A good band name should give a hint of what kind of music you play (see Megadeth, Sonic Youth, Geto Boys). True to its name, Rural Alberta Advantage gives off an earthy feel, but not in a Fleet Foxes, we-are-the-forest kind of way. “Departing” sounds more like a Bob Dylan record-- if he were to hole up in a cabin to make a dance record. The album is driven by a palpable tension between the vocals and the music--a singer who sounds like he should be accompanied by a banjo and a jaw harp, but instead fronts a band where the drums jump on the upbeat, xylophones plink joyously, and synthesizers sneak around in the background. It should be a mess, but somehow it makes perfect sense.

For fans of: Fleet Foxes, AA Bondy
Rating: 3 of 4
Check out: Under the Knife (YouTube)

The One AM Radio
Heaven Is Attached by a Slender Thread

Analog synths. Horns. Handclaps. “Heaven Is Attached by a Slender Thread” has all the makings of a typical dance record. But The One AM Radio doesn’t really do typical. Despite the upbeat ingredients, band leader Hrishikesh Hirway drenches the collection in lyrical melancholy. Somehow, the sadness just can’t compete with the persistent bounce. The album’s best track, “Plans,” ricochets off the walls like The Postal Service and “In a City without Seasons” feels like it was and conceived on the beach at sunset. There are brief moments with the music matches the solemnity of the message (see “The Heat”) but for the most part, despite his frowny face, Hirway can’t keep his feet from dancing.

For fans of: Hot Chip, Styrofoam
Rating: 3.5 of 4
Check out: Plans (YouTube)

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