Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reviews:: Royal City

It's hard to hear Aaron Riches sing, “here comes success” on the opening track of the new self-titled, b-side collection and not wonder what could have been when it comes to Guelph super group Royal City. You get overwhelmed with thoughts like, "what if the music biz of 2009 was around in 2001" or "what if geography wasn't an issue."

I’m not going to rehash the story of the band from the Royal City – long time friend and Exclaim assistant editor Vish Khanna puts the history in much more meaningful context - but the talent, catalog and story behind the band was better suited for today's world of bloggers and computer recordings than that of a traditional band.

With the rotating cast of band members – that included Bob Wiseman, Feist and Owen Pallett – grainy youtube videos of unexpected lineups would have been passed around from blog to blog. People would have showed up for every show, trading rumor after rumor about who was going to show up and play.

I heard Feist was in NY last night. That’s only a two hour drive and she’s got no shows left! She could be here! So could Lawr!

Really, they could have been like a folkier take on BSS if people had just cared more. There’s no denying the talent, and maybe if the band had made just a bit more cash doing what they did - the type they might have got after a possible Best New Music plug for 2001's landmark release, Alone at the Microphone- they could have kept recording even as the kilometers between each member increased. What could have been… but wasn’t. Nathan moved on to do other things, so did Jim. Andrew moved to the UK and went back to school. Simon got a real job. In the end, what they did and where they ended up doesn’t really matter much. The past is the past, and all that is left to do is romanticize it.

The records they created in a few short years still stand up and this collection of outtakes and session recordings that just didn’t make the cut is the perfect end for a band that was ahead of it’s time. What’s the expression? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Their throwaways, like the playful take on the Strokes classic Is this It?, the serene, lo-fi bliss of I Called But You Were Sleeping and the general merriment (and Badly Drawn Boy feel – you know, when Damon pulls back and surprises you with straight ahead melody and goodness) of A Belly Was Made For Wine could all be the highlight of a lesser band’s career. Can't You Hear Me Calling could stand up against the material on The Creek Drank the Cradle and not be the glaring underdog.

Instead the 12-songs are tossed together for a post-humous record for a band that that never got the credit it deserved and will probably be slept on by everyone other than the most devout fans. But as you here these songs and read Vish’s words, you remember what it’s like to stumble on a band that changes who you are and what you think. A band that speaks to you, even if no one else takes the time to listen.

MP3:: Royal City - A Belly Was Made For Wine

MP3:: Royal City - Can't You Hear Me Calling

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Posted at 7:00 AM by ack :: 2 comments

add to facebook add to Digg this Googlize this post add to Yahoo

At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Paul did sayeth:

Very nice, my friend. Seriously, I enjoyed reading that very much.


At 2:53 AM, Blogger Colin did sayeth:

Absolutely one of the best. So happy that this is finally being released.


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