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The Fast Rise and Fall of the South

The Kingsbury Manx

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Album Review

After two years of work, a tour van wreck, and a change of label, North Carolina indie soft rockers Kingsbury Manx released their third full-length album, The Fast Rise and Fall of the South, and it seems that the long road to get there was well worth the trouble. The Fast Rise and Fall is, no doubt, the finest selection of songs the boys have put out since their dark and atmospheric self-titled debut EP, and where 2003's Aztec Discipline moved the group more toward the bouncier side of indie pop, The Fast Rise and Fall finds the band returning to its initial trajectory of blending British folk-psychedelia with softly rocking Americana. It's a high and lonesome sound, punctuated with washes of tasteful lushness and passive-aggressive muscle, resembling what it would be like if you could do a mash-up between Pink Floyd's Obscured by Clouds and the Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society — evoking the "straining to be epic" musicality of the former and the pastoral, "day in the life" lyricism of the latter. Where other American bands with a heavy classic Britpop bent (like the Lilys or Of Montreal) strive to sound as un-American as possible — copping the guitar tones, song structures, and (sometimes) even the accent of their British influences — the Kingsbury Manx remain firmly rooted in the soil of their native North Carolina, even while they stand in the English rain. Theirs is a distinctly American sound that brings the British influence to the songs quite naturally — intuitively — and is more of a love letter to their musical heroes than an effort to become them. For every moment on the album that recalls XTC, the Moody Blues, the Kinks, or Floyd, there's another (often within the same song) that borrows from Elliott Smith, Archer Prewitt, Yo La Tango, or Wilco. The word to remember here is "balance," and the Kingsbury Manx never fall too heavily on either side of the Atlantic — at least not heavily enough to lose their own distinct sense of place, somewhere between Chapel Hill and the Village Green. ~ J. Scott McClintock, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1999

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Kingsbury Manx emerged in 1999 from the same North Carolina indie rock scene that spawned the Archers of Loaf and Superchunk before them. Bandmembers Ken Stephenson (guitar/vocals), Bill Taylor (guitar/vocals), Ryan Richardson (drums/vocals), and Scott Myers (bass/keyboards) attended middle school together in Greensboro before going separate ways during their college years. Stephenson and Myers enrolled in creative writing studies at Wilmington while Taylor and Richardson both landed at UNC,...
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The Fast Rise and Fall of the South, The Kingsbury Manx
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