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The Dimes

The Silent Generation

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Some bands just make you feel happy even if the message is depressing. Akin to the Shins, the Dimes evoke feelings of a jovial nature by way of lush harmonies and jangly guitar riffs. Whether by accident or design, the band possesses a Brit-pop timbre that is Fab Four comparable.

Formed in 2002, the Portland, Ore., quartet of Johnny Clay (vocals, acoustic guitar), Pierre Kaiser (electric guitar, vocals), Ryan Johnston (bass, vocals) and Jake Rahner (drums, vocals) is quickly becoming the new darling of the West Coast with its progressive brand of low-fi indie pop, but has also been spotted as far away as Japan. After releasing four independent EPs and their first full-length, The Silent Generation, the group caught the attention of local label Pet Marmoset Records, which released the record for national distribution last month.

The record is stunning from beginning to end, with well crafted melodies, glowing production and introspective lyrics. Almost the entire album is based on a page from a Depression-era newspaper found under the floor of Kaiser’s 1908 house. With bouncy and bright rhythms, the group has the ability to transform the dark stories into poppy pop songs with a sunny disposition. The first single, “Catch Me Jumping,” deviates from the theme of the album as it tells the story of a Navy friend who went crazy and jumped off his ship in the Persian Gulf.

Based on a true another story — as much of the record is — “Paul Kern Can’t Sleep” is a story about a veteran from World War I who had a bullet lodged in an area of the brain that controls sleep and didn’t sleep for 45 years until his death. The brightly lit gloom continues with “The Jersey Kid,” which outlines a murder trial that ended in a death sentence, while “New York 1930” is about a pro Sacco Vazetti demonstration that ended in a bloody riot. Not to totally depress the listener, “Letters in the Sea” is about a box containing 300 letters that washed up on the Jersey Shore. Clay ponders what the would-be recipient could have gone through not knowing the fate of the author with his airy falsetto voice.

The Dimes have delivered a four-star debut, and major label bidding seems to be inevitable.

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