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The Kingsbury Manx 

The Fast Rise and Fall of the South

Wednesday, Nov 16 2005
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I can't even imagine the confusion during marketing meetings at Yep Roc headquarters as the staff tried to figure out which indie-pop niche to target with The Fast Rise and Fall of the South, the fourth full-length album in six years from North Carolina quintet the Kingsbury Manx: fans of the cosmic Byrdsian revival of Beachwood Sparks and Dios (Malos)? The dusty, skewed rock made by My Morning Jacket, Acetone, Wilco, and Sparklehorse? The oddly charming Brit psych-folk of Donovan, the Kinks, Nick Drake, and early Pink Floyd, as interpreted by Of Montreal and Neutral Milk Hotel? How about every one of them? Because the Manx covers all of that ground and more, and makes a game of Spot the Influences about as challenging as a fishing derby at a trout farm, while adding few new tricks in the process. Over an all-too-familiar arrangement of picked guitar, piano, Hammond organ, and gentle percussion on "Harness and Wheel," singer Bill Taylor coos like David Gilmour; same on both the lazily droning "Greenland" and "Nova." Elsewhere, Taylor gets mega-Tweedy during the sock-hop chamber-pop of "What a Shame" as French horns sound their approval, and invites the spirit of Elliott Smith to possess him on "Snow Angel Dance." South is skillfully recorded and hardly lacking in pleasant melodies, but certainly not distinctive enough to leave much of a dent in your memory banks.

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Michael Alan Goldberg

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