...an impressive little record of gentle harmonies and wicked little production...
Olli Siebelt 2002-11-20
Chapel Hill, North Carolina is a funny old place. A huge world-class university town with more bars and clubs than you can shake a stick at. And for some reason, this town has more indie bands, labels and supporters than you can imagine. Superchunk? Archers of Loaf? Vanilla Trainwreck? All from the area. Not too bad a legacy, ay? Well - The Kingbury Manx may be a relatively new face in the world of indie rock but rest assured, their name will be as synonymous with Chapel Hill as jellied eels are in the East End. But whats in a name? It seems that theyve tried as hard as possible to make it as obscure as possible.
Getting their start last year on Overcoat Records (set up by one Howard Greynolds who works at Thrill Jockey), with a self titled release, rumours started flying almost the day after it hit the shops that it wasnt a new band at all but the anonymous recording from a well established band masquerading as recent college graduates. No band members are listed on either release but we can tell you its: Kenneth Stephenson, Bill Taylor, Scott Myers (bass, keyboards, cover painting), and Ryan Richardson, so please feel free to make your own associations or assumptions. Their publicist apparently at one time wouldnt confirm whether they come from Greensboro or Wilson or Chapel Hill. The very fact that they went to college at UNC Chapel Hill is also in question - but publicity stunt or not, it doesnt matter. Let You Down is a gorgeous release, both in its composition and its delivery.
Taking cues from that old chestnut alt-country (touring with Calexico all those dates must have rubbed off), indie-rock (but think the softness of Yo La Tengo - not the lo-fi madness of Archers of Loaf) and 60s psychedelia, theyve come up with an impressive little record of gentle harmonies and wicked little production details that just add more icing to an already delicious cake. A little reverb here, a little wah-wah there, it all fits in beautifully allowing the music to drift along at just the right speed. Even when the band begins to lets loose on tracks like Courtyard Waltz, the melodies come right back in and push the cacophony back into the corner. A bit like being beaten up by fluffy pillows, actually. But its the slower tracks that really make this band shine. Songs like Patterns Shape The Mile and Simplify create a warmth that hasnt been heard for about 30 years. Rest assured, this is serious stuff, kids.
Overall, its an incredibly charming release that once heard will find itself nestled very comfortably in your CD player&.where it will probably sit for a very long time. Wonderful.