The Toronto-based Royal City was led by singer/songwriter Aaron Riches, who worked alongside Jim Guthrie, Nathan Lawr, Simon Osborne, and Evan Gordon to create an intense and personal brand of rustic indie rock. Royal City's sound was most easily lumped in with the Palace and Songs: Ohia family of keening, country-influenced loners with guitars. The group first unveiled their fragile, acoustic-based music with At Rush Hour the Cars, their 2000 release on the Toronto-based label Three Gut. Gordon left the band that same year, but Royal City forged ahead, and their next release showed the results of time spent together honing their sound. 2001's Alone at the Microphone was a more mature and fully realized record, boasting a sound that transformed the group from Palace imitators to full-on contemporaries.