Royal City

At Rush Hour the Cars

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This Toronto-based quintet's debut album is a sparse, hushed, and beautiful collection of acoustic-based songs. Led by principal songwriter Aaron Riches, Royal City has a classic lo-fi, recorded-in-the-kitchen-with-friends feel. Like a lot of slow-tempo acoustic artists, some songs can have the tendency to float by unnoticed, but Riches' lyrical gift for vivid imagery and the band's relatively wide palette of sounds (including pedal steel and organ) usually keep the listener engaged. Riches' voice has a slightly flat but evocative quality similar to that of Damien Jurado, and his couplets have the ring of Will Oldham's less ironic moments. Maybe not in the upper echelon of the above-mentioned songwriters, nor in the category of the like-minded Low or Smog, but overall a strong debut.

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