The Dimes

The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry

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The Dimes do it again. As presaged by the similar New England EP, this Portland, Oregon quintet surpass even their superb Death Cab/Decemberists-y first LP The Silent Generation with beautiful folk-pop and hints of Americana. Although two New England songs reappear -- the alt-country "Save Me, Clara" (for Red Cross founder Clara Barton) and "Ballad of Winslow Homer" (for the 19th century painter/Civil War sketcher) -- the other 11 display equal grace and benevolent beatitude. These songs are spellbinding in a beguiling Bookends and Bridge Over Troubled Water fashion, as singer/songwriter Johnny Clay harmonizes with himself like he's Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. (Shoot, isn't that Garfunkel on the Henry David Thoreau-referencing "Walden & the Willow Tree?") Lastly, the brilliant Clay trades Silent Generation's immersion into Depression-era '30s headlines (crime, vice, WWI vets) to Beantown's history, spanning from rebellion (the title, closing song, and excellent sleeve recall the Boston Tea Party, December 16, 1773, and first lady/proto-feminist Abigail Adams is feted), to abolitionist passions (William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator), to the 1872 Great Boston Fire (referencing a perished fireman), to the vile anti-Italian hysteria of 1921's Sacco and Vanzetti trial. (Tri-quarter) hats off to one of the best/most entertaining folk-pop groups in years.

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