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Department Store Girl

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Album Review

The Rosenbergs spent the early 2000s riding a most unfortunate roller coaster: They were offered a slot on the then-hip Farmclub TV show, but turned it down when the contract terms proved unacceptable. They inked a groundbreaking profit-sharing record label deal with Robert Fripp's artist-friendly imprint Discipline Global Mobile, only to be left holding the bag when DGM failed to bear fruit. And their vocal advocacy of Napster went for naught when the file-sharing service crumbled under its own controversy. The band could have been forgiven, then, if they had followed up 2000s Mission: You with a record embittered or indulgently dwelling on the trappings and challenges of the record industry. To their credit, they do not, instead releasing a record so earnestly pop and so incessantly buoyant that one suspects they might actually only be in the business for the sake of making good music. Department Store Girl is a far less-produced effort than Mission: You, foregoing bells and whistles (literally) in favor of keeping the attention on Joe Mahoney's chunky guitar riffs and David Fagin's glossy vocals. Like Cheap Trick's better moments, the formula works fabulously in places, particularly when Fagin gets to toy with playful rhymes and pop culture references. "Crockett & Tubbs," an homage to kids playing TV characters, is the best example; other standouts include the bouncy "Birds of a Feather" and "Nighttime Lover." Beyond the up-tempo successes, the ballad "Woods" marries a gorgeous acoustic guitar melody to tasteful strings and tight harmonies, showcasing a new side of the band. All told, Department Store Girl is a smart, tight collection of pop underground gems, deserving of the same success that Fountains of Wayne experienced in this time period with their fluke hit "Stacy's Mom." This is a highly recommended album for fans of true power pop.


Formed: 1999 in New York, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Rosenbergs have gained more attention for their intransigent relationship toward the music business than for their music. But their refusal to buckle down to unfair industry contracts has not completely overshadowed their concise, original indie pop sound. After spending five years bumming around New York, burning bridges with a revolving door of drummers and guitar players, David Fagin and Evan Silverman finally found a pair of Joes, Mahoney and Darone, to complete their lineup. In 1999, they...
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Department Store Girl, The Rosenbergs
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