J DiMenna
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J DiMenna


Band Alternative Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"XM Cafe"

“Brilliant... I expect great things from him for a long time.”
- Bill Evans, XM Radio
- Bill Evans

"J DiMenna at CMJ"

“On J DiMenna’s subtle singer-songwriter disc Awkward Buildings (Exotic), well-wrought lyrics and intricate writing provide a bridge between diverse styles, from Beatlesque to Waitsian.”
- Time Out NY

"CD Reviews"

J. DiMenna’s music avoids easy categorization like a tiny critter too quick for a bigger animal to catch. Just when you think you have his sound under paw, all succinct descriptions slither away. J. DiMenna is not the sort of artist that reaches out and bludgeons you with a sledgehammer. Instead, his style tempts and entices, not unlike being mesmerized by the eyes of a cobra. What you find inside DiMenna’s Buildings is at the same time both odd and pretty, and well worth experiencing. - Amplifier Magazine

"All Songs Considered"

“If you like like great pop music, the type of music you may hear Elliot Smith or Jeff Buckley write, you should listen to J DiMenna. DiMenna’s made a CD that’s infectious. Its the kind of infectious music that took time to grab me, the kind of infectious music that I find myself singing and not realizing what it is or how it even crept into my subconscious.”
- Bob Boilen, NPR

"Music Preview"

“DiMenna plays music that falls somewhere between M. Ward, Django Reinhardt and Tom Waits... Very beautiful songs.”
- Weekly Alibi, Albuquerque, NM

"J DiMenna's Awkward Debut"

“DiMenna sings in a high, sweet voice evocative of Ray Davies and Elliot Smith in their respective primes. And his graceful, strings-endowed art pop is as richly endowed in atmospherics as it is in metaphoric meaning.”
- Jon Takiff - Knight Ridder

"Positively Yeah Yeah Yeah"

“Terrific debut from this talented, multi-instrumental songwriter.”
- John James / Syndicated column - Syndicated Column

"J DiMenna at Sin-e"

“ ...haunting lyrics, atmospheric strings and vaudevillian compositions, I can’t help thinking that fans of Grant Lee Philips and Devendra Banhart would be just as impressed as we are by this impressive body of work. “ - The Deli Magazine (Brooklyn)


A Brooklyn native, J. DiMenna began Awkward Buildings three years ago while still living in Asheville. Almost alienating in its metropolitan hue, DiMenna's debut release is peppered with Asheville natives: Toubab Krewe's Drew Heller appears (along with his father, Steven, who produced), Donna the Buffalo's Bill Reynolds, the "secret weapon" Tyler Ramsey, and even the late, great Bob Moog. The contributions are worthy, but the shine is DiMenna. The comparisons are endless -– Radiohead, Sam Prekop, Elliott Smith, Django Reinhardt -– yet DiMenna's sound is his own. One side of his mastery resides in his innate sense of corralling legions of sound and manifesting it into one powerful movement. On the other is his grasp of lyricism and themes. At times, the album directs its dissent at what DiMenna calls "literalist interpreters," people so caught up in their narrow view of the world (sometimes circumvented through religion) that they can't empathize with the majority of the population.

"Peas in a pod mutate for me," DiMenna laments on "Peas in a Pod." "The slogan Mom thought would be/ Still now the same laws pend/ Most likely till the end/ And the narrow view will reign/ When we are trapped inside that train."

Many of the warnings are bleak, but somehow rays of light penetrate each tune. Perhaps it's the wall of sound that can be whittled to a minimalist guitar chord ("Comfort," for instance). Or maybe it's the thrill of discovering a new sound each time the album hits the player. Then again, it could be the joy of discovering a prime-time performer before he hits the big time. And believe me, J. DiMenna's tenure at intimate places like Asheville Pizza Company (on April 28 at 8 p.m.) will soon be replaced by larger, awkward buildings. - Mountain XPress, Asheville, NC

"Music Notes"

"(Awkward Buildings) subtly intertwines folk, rock, jazz and world influences into romantic waltzes about the uplifting and the downtrodden. Bert Jansch plus Elliott Smith, with a dash of Tom Waits." - Flagpole, Athens, GA


Awkward Buildings
release date - October 3rd, 2006

If He Could Speak Now
release date - April 3, 2007



J. DiMenna may be a singer who writes songs, but don't be quick to write him off as another 'singer-songwriter.' In fact, the 13 expansive tracks on his debut Awkward Buildings have next to nothing in common with the guy with an acoustic guitar at your local coffee shop. Instead, these tracks establish DiMenna as a talented musician who has an uncanny ability to recontextualize his influences - which range from folk artists like Nick Drake to Belgian Sinti jazz guitarists like Django Reinhardt - into a unique amalgam that's simultaneously vaguely familiar and difficult to place.

Recorded and mixed over the past year-and-a-half in Asheville, North Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York, and featuring musical collaborations from a host of co-conspirators (including a Theremin cameo from the late Bob Moog), Awkward Buildings is a difficult album to categorize. The opener 'Prayer Flag' is a driving 4/4 rock song with a solid backbeat and a vocal hook that ought to be illegal; 'Peas In A Pod' is a heartfelt confessional track that displays DiMenna's impressive finger-style technique and graceful tenor; and the shimmering 'Preacher' features jangly pianos and orchestral flourishes that bring out the subtle intricacies in DiMenna's writing.

'I like to cross over into a bunch of different places,' DiMenna replies when asked if he feels a kinship with any specific scene. 'People have called my music chamber-pop, art-pop and indie folk-rock and I can't really say any of those are wrong,' he continues. 'In some ways I almost feel like a composer in addition to a songwriter because I do all the arranging for the parts, even though I can't communicate that type of stuff with traditional notation,' he adds. A listen to the haunting ragtime number 'Raggedy Ann' not only confirms this statement; it will also send shivers down your spine.

Lyrically, Awkward Buildings centers on both the hypocrisy of organized religion and, moreover, the core facts that simply make us human. 'There aren't really any traditional love songs on the album,' DiMenna explains, carefully sidestepping another traditional singer-songwriter cliche. 'The songs are more inquiries of humanity and those types of things; flawed relationships, whether it's romantic or familial those types of dilemmas exist on every level.'

However, despite the heady nature of his lyricism, DiMenna is careful not to be too heavy-handed or pretentious when it comes to his music - after all, the main goal of the Awkward Buildings is to make a tangible connection with the listener. In fact, most people who have heard the record seem to discover at least one song that they can endlessly listen to on repeat - and for this writer, it was the stripped-down title track, 'Awkward Buildings.' 'It's funny, that's the most simple song on the record,' DiMenna responds, 'but somehow it sums everything up in a way that people seem to be able to universally relate to.'

Chances are you'll have a similar experience listening to Awkward Buildings. It may not be during the same song - or it may simply be a quick turn of phrase or musical moment - but we guarantee there'll be something on the album you'll be able to unconditionally identity with.

After all, we're all only human.