Scout began in the early '90s after vocalist/guitarist Ashen Keilyn and drummer Nigel Rawles decamped from Michigan, headed east to New York City, hooked up with locals Rimas Remeza (bass) and Steve Shiltz (guitar), and began gigging around town. Area indie Deep Elm took notice and issued Scout's debut 7" in 1996. "Plague Dogs" was dream pop roughed up by Replacements influences, yet steadied by Keilyn's unique voice, which sometimes suggested a less strident Patti Smith. Scout jumped to Chrysalis for the 1998 EP Someplace Would be Nice and returned a year later with the full-length Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time; it was the best example yet of Scout's charming alternative pop. Remeza and Shiltz departed in the midst of the touring and promotion for Idea, and when Scout returned with October 2003's This Soft Life, they were as a trio. New guitarist Brian Silverman helped refine and at times toughen Scout's sound, and Life was hailed as Keilyn and the band's strongest, most accessible performance to date. That autumn, the trio embarked on Scout's first nationwide tour.
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