Friday, August 28, 2009

The Kingsbury Manx -- Ascenseur Ouvert!

The Kingsbury Manx -- Ascenseur Ouvert! (Odessa): The Manx are a perfect Sunday morning with a cup of coffee band. They concoct mellow, melodic creations that manage to exude warmth even though the precise arrangements could lead to a more sterile sound. If I could pull out a comparison, they stake out a sound that is somewhere between the softer pop side of Pernice Brothers and the college radio perfection of Dumptruck. Or perhaps they are the J.J. Cale(s) of the 21st Century. Regardless, this is album full of subtle pleasures that unfold with repeat plays. The characteristically gentle “If You’re on the Mend, I’m on the Move” is a sublime slice of folk-pop that has roots in Simon & Garfunkel and The Kinks. In a similar vein, “The Whip & The World” has slightly strummed guitars, crisp drumming, a pillow of keyboards and a banjo making the most friendly sounds. “Minos Maze” is something else altogether, a delicate construction that features a breathtaking harmony vocal section, something the band should explore more often. And “Well Whatever” lopes along with some nifty lead guitar ornamentation and a wistful violin in the background. With the ascendancy of groups like Fleet Foxes and Blitzen Trapper, the Manx are probably more relevant now than ever. And this album is up to their high standard.

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