Dimestore Scenario
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Dimestore Scenario

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dimestore scenario is a girl/boy indie-pop quartet in which the two women do most of the singing. lazily enunciated, unself-consciously intelligent lyrics meet oblique melodies for the kind of unpolished DIY approach that often evokes the australian and new zealanders who were up to the same thing a decade ago. that means they sometimes reinvent pop even if it's a bit out of tune. always charming, sometimes brilliant, with a lead guitarist who can be eyebrow raising. - Time Out New York


How can we pass up a Brooklyn band whose new EP is called The Gowanus Sessions and that rehearses and records on Second Avenue at 15th Street? The band is Dimestore Scenario and lead singer Rachel Federman, whose vocals are alternatingly sweet and powerful, depending, says the band works "right in the heart of that great desolation." The Gowanus Sessions is being released on January 24 and the band will be playing at Southpaw along with Plaza Toros and Breaking the Silence. Doors at 8PM. As for The Gowanus Sessions, the five tracks are fun. Kickoff track Laila has a definite Belly-esque, Pixie-ish vibe. Return to Guatemala and Contenders have a more pop feel. Descent dips productively into the harder indie rock well and the concluding track, A Million Times at Least, is just flat-out pretty. The band has been through a bunch of personnel changes, but several years ago, Time Out New York wrote that Dimestore Scenario "sometimes reinvents pop." Check out Dimestore Scenario at their My Space page and their website. - The Gowanus Lounge


Discography

Moon Rocks (2001)
Any day we could all just fall apart (2002)
Gowanus Sessions (2007)
The End of May (2007)

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Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

New York City-indie rock bands are a dime a dozen – so what so what separates the girl/ boy trio Dimestore Scenario from the cacophony of other bands swirling around them?
To start: a wacky mix of influences (from Mazzy Star to Slayer to The Smiths), unexpected backgrounds (Ivy League New England + mean streets of Jersey + a lost childhood in Brazil), catchy yet unpredictable songs, a brand new sound that feels instantly nostalgic, lyrics that really mean something, and a lot of heart.

Dimestore’s latest round of songs are influenced by the end of the earth feel where they practice and record, in a studio steps from the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. It’s not uncommon for artists to find inspiration in abandoned places; they’re not empty like the cornfields of Iowa or the backwoods of New Hampshire. They’re empty in a different way – colonized by ghosts. On the newly released “The Gowanus Sessions” you can hear the ghosts – the former millworkers, dockworkers, sea merchants, and by contrast, the weight of their absence.

Their album begins with a soulful voice sliding over retro guitars, singing to an unknown listener Laila about “the saddest day.” One never finds out who Laila is, or how she is doomed, but in the carnivalesque bridge when Federman belts out “We’ve got guitars to play, highways to ride and lots of room” part of you can’t help but wish the bridge had been the song’s hook – hopeful and rousing. Instead it’s played only once and the song moves on into the equally alluring, if heartbreaking, refrain. Contenders, a tribute to the band’s first guitarist Joe Nagraj who passed away less than a year before the band began recording, is the most straightforward in terms of meaning, but even here, as in many Dimestore songs, one feels the greatest groundswell of unlimited possibility at the moment of final, true insight into its limits.

For lack of a better description they may be indie-rock, yet they’re not out to break boundaries and instead amiably comply with many traditional pop sensibilities: catchy choruses, memorable guitar hooks, straightforward instrumentation. Even still, they have a way of defying expectation. Just when you think the quiet and restrained final song A Million Times at Least is winding down into a kind of vesper-like outro, the band kicks in with a grand and sweeping instrumental, triumphant guitars replacing the achingly repentant final lines.

Like the history of rock music it can’t help but reflect, Dimestore’s latest music is full of contradictions. Love and hate for the same person, feelings that seem epic but days and nights that race ahead and get lost, defiance and resignation, exhaustion and exhilaration, failure on the brink of what seemed like a breakthrough, and, one time in a billion, the other way around. People, like neighborhoods, that change, and the specters and spectators that may resist that change. Throughout -- a persistent sense of loss but also one of hope. Fitting for songs written by a polluted canal, a canal that leads out to a majestic river, one that leads into the ocean.

What is Dimestore Scenario really? In March of 1996, seven girls (all 19 years of age) gathered around an old beat-up dorm lounge piano and began to chant “See you boys later,” while one of them banged out chords underneath the layered wailings and harmonious variations of the line. The piano player was just days away from leaving for a semester in France and the impending absence set against the snowy campus took on an immense and beautiful sadness as it would mark the groups’ first time apart. Midway through a 20-minute rendition of the song, one girl ran to get the hand-held tape recorder she used for listening to Italian drills, and the impromptu session was recorded. In those final, melancholy days other gatherings occurred, other songs were written – Blue Light Special, The Underwear Song – all on the spot, improve theater with melodies.

Six months later when the girls reconvened, they posted signs on campus– laughing as they did so – “Band seeks guitarist, bassist, drummer” which astoundingly drew attention from talented musicians who backed up the “seven screaming girls” for the next two years. They went by the name You with the Face, put on raucous shows, gained a fair amount of attention on the little New England campus and won second place in a Talent Contest – a Lemon Pie from the local bakery.

Cut to post-graduation, New York, three members find each other among the new and sudden chaos of their lives. They learn to play instruments for real, steal part of a line from a You with the Face song for their name, and launch Dimestore Scenario. They start by playing in their friends’ basement and move on to Luna Lounge, Brownies, the Cooler and other, mostly-East side, joints. The sound morphs from folk/psychedelic to indie-pop to full out indie-rock, the line-up changes, romances are sparked and friendships are strained, the brilliant