Chapel Hill, NC’s own crazy diamonds, The Kingsbury Manx, made a splash with their seemingly out-of-nowhere eponymous debut in 2000. Steadfast in their musical iconoclasm, the Manx have continued to evolve their brand of quietly beautiful ethereal psych-pop, along the way making converts of fellow musicians such as The Shins, Calexico and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. The Manx’s upcoming album, The Fast Rise and Fall of the South, their 5th release, was recorded and co-produced with Wilco’s Mike Jorgensen.
The guys holed up at Key Club Recording in Benton Harbor, MI from April 7-16, 2005 to record the tracks. Bill and Jessica Skibbe, the studio owners, shared engineering duties along with Jorgensen. (Bill had helped build Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio and John McEntire’s Soma Studios in Chicago before building Key Club). The resulting 13 songs show a different sonic side of the band (more acoustic guitar & piano) than their previous records, complete with sing-along codas, psychedelic freakouts and hooks galore.
Unlike the band’s previous releases where songwriting duties were shared, the songs on The Fast Rise and Fall of the Southwere all written by Manx guitarist Bill Taylor. And you can tell: the songs segue seamlessly; the mood is never broken. From the opening track, the piano-driven 3/4-time “Harness and Wheel,” The Fast Rise and Fall of the South seems to be about loss and coping with it … and ultimately resignation and acceptance.
Although the Manx have opted for a sparer sound, the arrangements are colorful and varied, from the dream-like Hammond break in the opening track to the orchestral outro — complete with electric guitar feedback — of “10008.” And yes, that is a banjo and a Mellotron flute on the Ray Davies-flavored “Animations.”
The Fast Rise and Fall of the South, out September 20, is a timeless album — instantly memorable and awash in feeling — from a band you always knew had it in them. It’s an album to fall in love with … or to.