The Scene's Out of Sight

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It's three albums on three different labels for San Francisco's Actionslacks, and while 2001's The Scene's out of Sight is a somewhat enjoyable album, it's unmemorable and rough around the edges. Lead vocalist/guitarist Tim Scanlin sounds like Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong without the punk to offset the pop, in a style that's usually effective but maddeningly unvarying. The rest of the band on this record -- drummer Marty Kelly, bassist Aaron Rubin, and occasional multi-instrumentalist J. Robbins -- are competent but unspectacular; the focus is clearly on Scanlin's straightforward guitar-driven melodies. Best of the bunch are the title track, "Folding Chair," and "Shining Jewels," all of which take different slants on a seemingly recurring cast of characters -- young adults who are still fumbling to get to the truth of their feelings, and having only occasional fun trying. There's far less of the sense of humor and nerve that pervaded 1998' s One Word, which is a shame. Actionslacks thrive when there's a sense of playfulness to their work, and without it, they're rendered a second fiddle to power poppish contemporaries like Creeper Lagoon and the Rosenbergs. That doesn't make The Scene's out of Sight a bad record, though. Just a rather disposable one.

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