Manishevitz is the brainchild of singer/guitarist Adam Busch, formerly of the Curious Digit. Unlike his previous band's brooding and dark output, the songs of Manishevitz serve as a cathartic and bluesy release of the band's creative energies. Throughout Grammar Bell and the All Fall Down, Busch is backed by guitarist Via Nuon, bassist Bryan Hoffa, and drummer Matt Datesman. The album begins with the bluesy "Fox Trot." The highlight is Busch's sly, mesmerizing lead vocals. Guest violinist Joe Nio adds a haunting texture to the second track, "Ice Pick." The third track, "Grammar Bell Rings," is a calmer, fingerpicked acoustic track. As the album unfolds, Busch's folk-rock arrangements continue to impress. His voice easily compares to Andy Gonzalez of Marshmallow Coast or a slightly deeper version of Steve Westfield. His narrative approach to songwriting is reminiscent of D.C. Berman of the Silver Jews. While songs like "Invisible Man Rag" and "Creole Belle" are simple singer/songwriter acoustic guitar-based tracks, the full vision of Manishevitz's promise shows up on "Lonesome Cowboy Dave Thomas." Busch's hearty yet unassuming vocal presence blends with the song's steadily rousing instrumentation. Grammar Bell and the All Fall Down was recorded in the band's home state of Virginia and was released in the spring of 1999 on Jagjaguwar Records.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cramer