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The Wishing Chair

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Album Review

While Natalie Merchant's elastic vocal cords are the obvious centerpiece of 10,000 Maniacs' lilting folk-pop, what becomes apparent early on in The Wishing Chair is that the band would likely dry up and drift away like a dandelion if it weren't for the inventive, wiry guitar playing of Robert Buck. It's Buck's instrument that acts as a constant (tin) foil for the spicy mustard goodness of Merchant's vocal cords, whether he's laying down the Johnny Marr-style spider riffs of "Grey Victory" and "Scorpio Rising," or inspiring a thousand private college-based cover bands with "Maddox Table"'s chorus pedal dynamics. While The Wishing Chair ends up being a little too long, it is nevertheless a sparkling major-label debut, and even bares its incisors a bit alongside more pastoral fare like "Cotton Alley." The shining "My Mother the War" bounces along on a tensile, new wave-inspired groove that even includes what can only be described as a mirthful whoop from the normally opaque Merchant. The majority of The Wishing Chair underpins the sound that came to define the Maniacs and Merchant's later solo flight. But when its hackles are raised, it's like finding out that the teacher's pet smokes cigarettes behind the school bus.


Genre: Rock

An acclaimed, multi-platinum selling American alternative rock outfit whose agreeable blend of jangle pop and folk-rock helped to define college rock scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s, 10,000 Maniacs (named after the low-budget horror movie 2,000 Maniacs) were formed in Jamestown, New York, in 1981 by singer Natalie Merchant and guitarist John Lombardo. Other members of the sextet were Robert Buck (guitar), Steven Gustafson (bass), Dennis Drew (keyboards), and Jerry Augustyniak (drums). The...
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The Wishing Chair, 10,000 Maniacs
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