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Monday, June 22nd, 2009

CONTEST – Royal City artwork giveaway

Photo via MBVMBVGuelph’s Royal City were a band who were just ahead enough of their time to miss out on the great Can-rock explosion on the early 2000s, singing their swan song in 2004 with Little Heart’s Ease, just as many of their contemporaries, collaborators and followers – at one time or another, their roster included the likes of Leslie Feist and Owen Pallett – rose to far greater heights both at home and abroad.

But they’ve never been lost or forgotten, their three records held with great affection by those who were fortunate enough to have seen or heard them over their too-short, half-decade existence. Their sound was deceptively simple – folk-pop with occasional excursions into noisier territory, led by singer Aaron Riches’ charmingly creaky voice – but beneath the seemingly placid surface were deep waters of musical, lyrical and spiritual complexities, frequently as unsettling as beautiful. It’s hard to put one’s finger on just what made Royal City so special but few would deny that they were.

The band will get some measure of posthumous recognition this week with the release of Royal City, a limited-edition compilation of rare and unreleased material, and here in their hometowns, a pair of concerts entitled “Burning Torch: A Tribute to Royal City” will be held later this week at the Ebar in Guelph on June 24 and at the Tranzac in Toronto on June 26 and will feature performances from friends, fans and former members. Details at Exclaim.

For my part, I am very pleased to be able to offer, in conjunction with the band, their former label of Three Gut Records and my blog compatriots at MBV Music, a very special commemorative giveaway. They’ve created a super-limited run of approximately 6.5″ x 6.5″ prints featuring the artwork of the three Royal City albums created from Tyler Clarke Burke’s original artwork files – view them large size – and I have one of the thirty to give away to a lucky fan. To enter, leave me a comment below with a Royal City anecdote, either related to a record, a song, a live show, a traffic altercation with Nathan Lawr or that time you caught Jim Guthrie with his hand in your pocket, whatever. Make sure to include your email so I can contact you and have that in before midnight, June 30. And also, for those seeking to increase their odds, another set is being given away at MBV Music and Said The Gramophone will be giving a set away very soon as well. MBV is also streaming the album right now and The Guelph Mercury talks to Guelph-based CBC personality Vish Khanna about the band’s legacy.

MP3: Royal City – “Can’t You Hear Me Calling”
MP3: Royal City – “A Belly Was Made For Wine”
MP3: Royal City – “Bring My Father A Gift”
MP3: Royal City – “My Brother Is The Meatman”
MP3: Royal City – “Bad Luck”
MP3: Royal City – “I’m Taking The Train”
MP3: Royal City – “At Rush Hour The Cars”
Stream: Royal City / Royal City

By : Frank Yang at 4:42 pm
Category: Contests

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RSS Feed for this post25 Responses.
  1. monkeyinabox says:

    If my brother was a meatman, I’d consider taking the train to avoid bad luck.

  2. C-Po says:

    I bought a copy of Little Heart’s Ease at a record store in Denver that also sold “tobacco accessories”. A friend and I were in the middle of a road trip for work, heading from Las Vegas to St Louis, when he realized that he left his glass pipe at home. Even though we were behind schedule, I agreed to stop at this store because my friend was pretty intolerable without his weed.

    It only took about two days for my friend to lose the new pipe. My copy of Little Heart’s Ease, however, has never strayed too far from my stereo.

    (That’s not much of an anecdote, I know – I just really want the bear painting.)

  3. Nick Heisler says:

    I knew nothing about the band at all, but I loved the title’s homage to Neil Young’s line in ambulance blues, off nis best IMHO release, on the beach, so I had to buy it based on that alone.

    And I love’d the music and lyrics on all three releases, and will be parting with hard earned cash for the new disk of old stuff tomorrow.

  4. Tim J. says:

    Royal City are a huge deal in my nine-unit apartment building in Chicago. Inexplicably, every time I put them on my stereo on the back porch, someone seems to come up and freak out about it. Weird.

  5. Jess Lambertson says:

    Probably because I was a latecomer to the Canadian rock scene (as well as good music in general), I stumbled on these guys less than a year ago. An nice transition from radio top forty, their tunes don’t ask too much of me. I absolutely love their pure/simple sound. But that simplicity hides the depths of their music – something I just eat up.

    The songs are honest and always speak to me, most likely because Riches’s voice is so damn easy to listen to. Now, Royal City is one of those reminiscent bands that exudes summer.

  6. Damon says:

    I discovered Royal City on a soul-searching séjour in France, where Spacy Basement, dominated my iPod (first generation with the “revolutionary” click-wheel!). I later found my soul (not in a basement or anything like that — it was in a bathroom) and my life was forever changed.

  7. Michael says:

    I found out about them accidentally when they were opening for some other band that I can’t remember any more because Royal City were the far more compelling of the pair. It was one of those shows that you had no expectations about, but by the midway point you could have heard a pin drop in the room between songs because everyone was in awe. I’ve never seen so many people leave with CDs and shirts of a band they’d never heard of before.
    I never did see them again, and in a way I’m glad because it might not have lived up to this magical night. Still, I do miss them…

  8. Dylan says:

    I picked up “At Rush Hour The Cars” on a whim because I thought the cover was fantastic. (seriously) My impulsiveness has never been more rewarded. A couple of years later I went to see them play at the Horseshoe with a promising young opener named Sufjan Stevens. I can’t remember what he’s up to now, but he sure sounded nice back then.

  9. Matthew says:

    I never caught Jim Guthrie’s hand in my pocket, but I remember catching him opening for Broken Social Scene at Harbourfront many moons ago. One of the best nights ever.

  10. Mike says:

    This first time I saw Royal City was at a small show in Hamilton Ontario at a bar called The Mermaid Lounge. We had gone to see Howie Beck and arrived early enough to catch the opening band Royal City. It was love at fist listen! All of us just fell in love with the first album. I bought a T-shirt off of them at the end of the show and it fell apart after one wash. It was a wicked looking shirt though…

  11. Matthew says:

    I never caught Jim Guthrie’s hand in my pocket, but I remember catching him opening for Broken Social Scene at Harbourfront all those years ago. One of the best nights ever. I also always loved Tyler’s design and illustrations for Royal City’s records, especially on Alone at the Microphone.

  12. scott says:

    Love them TONS, but living in california, I never got to see them live…that is sad.

  13. Virginia says:

    One of my favorite albums is “At Rush Hour With Cars. I played it for almost everyday for an entire summer while sitting on my porch on Wolfe Island. That beautiful music puts me in a great mood. I never got to see them live I tried booking them at the very time that they had decided to take a permanent break. P.S. I did find it pretty cool with Nathan Lawr got to stay on that same porch with his bandmates a few years later. I have a great poster collection on Wolfe Island and would die to have a Royal City poster hanging at the farmhouse:)

  14. Music News, IOmusic.net » ROYAL CITY GIVE-AWAY says:

    […] the album’s release in even greater style, with a Said the Gramophone give-away. (MBV and Chromewaves are doing them […]

  15. aMy leigh says:

    um, i have a royal city inspired, tyler clark burke illustrated tattoo. horrible mac camera photo can be found here and a teeny version of the illustration is here.

  16. Cameron says:

    I remember seeing Royal City on the back patio of the Jimmy Jazz in Guelph….and then staring incredulously at the Horseshoe bouncer a few years later when he said their show was sold out. The band had blown up all of a sudden, to the point that someone reported that Royal City were now playing shows “standing up.” That’s when you know you’ve arrived.

    Also: Play “Baby Let Your Heart Out” on your way to work……it will — without fail — be a great day.

  17. melinda says:

    I’m not generally the super-fan type, but I love(d) Royal City.

    I first heard their music on a mixtape from a boy, who gave it to me on our first date, tossing in “I Am a Raw Youth” and “I Can See” among songs from Pavement and Beat Happening. (This could be why I fell in love with him.) The relationship with that boy fizzled out, but my feelings for Royal City lingered. I have misty, water-coloured memories of so many Royal City shows: singing along to “Daisies” at the Horseshoe, sitting at cabaret tables at Harbourfront, getting caught in a sudden blizzard en route to a show at Lee’s, and eventually meeting a new love at one of their shows.

    They figured so prominently into my early-twenties, it’s hard not to feel mushy about them. I realized recently that, since Royal City stopped playing together, I’ve found it impossible to care about a band with such fervour. It’s partly because I’m older and more jaded now, but also because they were damn special. Thank you, boys.

  18. JRH says:

    I biked to a Royal City show in Kingston through the rain in 2001. They played an amazing show – Here Comes Success was particularly memorable. Aaron was snarling and growling through the set and I loved that it freaked out the crowd. They were my favourite band at the time and I got to talking with them after the show. The person who was supposed to host them flaked out and they ended up staying on my couch and floor in my small box of an apartment. We talked about records and Aaron introduced me to the music of Grant Hart – 2541. All four guys were just as sincere as their music. I miss the shows that never were but cherish the ones that did. They were(are) the real deal.

  19. Mark says:

    I was so excited to see them at the Horseshoe with friend, and sister of Aaron, who I had met that year in Thunder Bay. (as Dylan mentioned earlier) Sufjan Stevens also played. I knew nothing about him at the time, or even how to pronounce his name, but both bands played a very memorable show. I continue to love both dearly.

  20. Dan says:

    At Rush Hour, The Cars drive down the Human Highway to Royal City.

  21. Matt Hawker says:

    I remember Jim opening for The Cons in London. After the show I went up to talk to him and he went on and on about the Cons. I was struck by how enthusiastic he seemed to be about not just the Cons but all the 2nd generation three gut bands, especially Bry Webb and co. whose success overshadowed his own.

    It really reinforced what Three Gut was all about coming from its namesake. Love Royal City.

  22. Nick says:

    I saw the band play in St. John’s (my hometown) with the Constantines in 2003 or so. I remember the Cons blowing the roof off the place, but leaving with Royal City in my head. It was a tour-ending show, and the band were offering merch if you bought them a beer. A few minutes later they had more beer than they could possibly drink, so I just bought every record they had.

    Years later I talked with Daniel from Danielson about the great Royal City and we commonly lamented the band’s end.

    Is that enough of an anecdote? I hope so. I’ve got each of these records, I’d love to have the prints as well.

  23. aMy leigh says:

    sooo… who won? who won?!!

  24. Frank Yang says:

    ah, sorry- forgot I hadn’t picked a winner.

    Melinda gets the prints – thanks to everyone for sharing their memories

  25. Rachael says:

    Although totally unrelated to the contest, is there any possible way to get “At Rush Hour The Cars”?? I figured this may be the best place to enter my desperate plea…I NEED that CD.