Is there really an advantage to being from rural Alberta? This Canadian trio is able to sop up an inordinate number of influences, if that counts for anything. The Rural Alberta Advantage’s debut album, Hometowns, casts singer Nils Edenloff (actually the only member of the Toronto-based band from Alberta) as quite the mimic. So apparently the disadvantage as rural Albertans is that they lack an identity. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to like here. The most noticeable touchstone is Neutral Milk Hotel, since Edenloff occasionally channels Jeff Mangum’s vocal spirit in an almost disquieting way (especially on “Rush Apart”). The band also has plenty of energy: Drummer Paul Banwatt takes center stage on the record’s highlight, the excellent “The Dethbridge in Lethbridge.” Elsewhere, the band simply wears its influences way too obviously to stand on its own merits — a little Rosebuds on “Frank, AB,” some Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on “Edmonton” and a whole lotta Neutral Milk Hotel everywhere else. Maybe once the band explores the world past its hometowns, it’ll be ready to find its own sound. They play the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124) at 8:30 p.m. The Buried Wires and Octagon open. Tickets: $8 advance, $10 day of show. — Chris Drabick
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