Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Scenic Is All Splits With Bipolaroid

When indie pop rockers lose founding lead singers, most bands call it quits. And that might have been the end of the story for The Scenic.

But instead of giving up, Dan Wolf (guitar/vocals), Jake Sciscio (lead guitar), Frank Romantino (bass), and Shane Reynolds (drums) decided to hold auditions for a new frontman. And after what they collectively described as weeks of stressful decisions, they put their faith in Jeremy Menard, whose heavily Blink-influenced alternative rock band, Rory, had just broken up.

“We like to think it was a completely new band then when we wrote together for the first time,” Dan Wolf had said then. “We all realized we had something special."

Many fans, however, weren't all too convinced that Menard was the best match for the lighter fare of feel-good pop rock. Find Yourself Here seemed to underscore that point, with the sound skewing heavily toward the groundwork already laid. Even Menard said in a recent interview that they felt like they sucked.

Bipolaroid Isn't Perfect, But Shows Promise For Another Album.

The change up for The Scenic isn't just a sound change on Bipolaroid. It's a band change. Wolf was replaced by Zach Andersen during the last tour. Reynolds is being replaced by Jake "No Wheat" Beierschmitt for this tour. And Jay Tagg replaced Sciscio somewhere along the way, leaving Romantino as the last remaining founding member.

In fact, the changes have been so brisk, the label's marketing department has had a hard time keeping up (and some reviewers have too). Fans seem to be taking the "no explanation" changes in stride, with some noticing when even the newest member (Tagg) was missing from a band photo (he was taking the pictures).

In the end, no matter what the lineup, it all comes down to the album. Bipolaroid has several tracks worth listening to, especially those that move away from the first album, like Halo, which is more emotive than anything offered up before. It may take Halo some time to catch fire, however.

The label released Uh Oh as the initial single and produced curiously disturbing semi-cliche bipolar (more like psychotic) bunny suit segments. What is it with alternative rockers and bunny suits? (Well, better than a golf cart, I suppose.)

Uh Oh is a decent song, even if the demo version strikes the better chord. Other standouts on the album include Sunday Morning and The Lonely Side. Pharmapseudokool is solid, with its heavy, early Weezer-like arrangement. And So Cal So What? is hugely infused with early Third Eye Blind.

All of this really lends itself to what might happen next. The Scenic has a shot for a third album, but the need to focus more on songs like Halo, which has the more original sound. The rest is good enough, as noted, but it runs the risk of being a borderline cover band for an era not distant to revive.

Bipolaroid Moves The Scenic In The Right Direction With A 3.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

If you're unfamiliar with the scale, this places The Scenic somewhere between making fans happy and breaking into a bigger venue. There is no question that Menard has the chops to do it, and the new additions to the band have some talent to back him up. They're hip enough to want more.

The bottom line-- if you are feeling nostalgic for old Weezer and Third Eye Blind, listen to entire the release. But if you want something more original, pick up Halo and Uh Oh. You can find Bipolaroid on iTunes. Bipolaroid by The Scenic is also on Amazon.
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