Pleasing the masses takes work, so you should give the hard-workin', alt-rockin' band Three Miles Out due credit. The Akron-based quartet whips up tomorrow's radio rock today on its self-titled debut, 11 tracks of jangling electric guitars and collegiate barroom anthems. Nationally, these guys clearly idolize Creed's arena bombast; locally, they envy the sunny, summery anthems of O.A.R. As a result, TMO adeptly mirrors both, but improves on neither. The disc opens with "Temptation" and "Something in the Water," a pair of riffy, driven, garaged-up rockers that spike the AOR format a bit -- betcha the bass player has a few Stooges records stashed away somewhere. "Something" (which also has a CD-accessible music video, if your computer's in the mood) even manages a bit of glammy T. Rex swing.
But alas, this is but the first act in a three-part drama, with the latter two-thirds a bit lacking in inspiration. Slow ballads such as "Comfort Zone" and "Disagree" don't do much for anyone, and they betray their direct influences a bit too freely. "Tuesday Morning" sounds alarmingly like Blessid Union of Souls' "I Believe," with the same vocal lines, an electric guitar replacing the piano, and a slightly different chorus. Then comes an ill-advised, angst-ridden "If I Could Fly," which has slow-burn atmosphere, but the lyrics are dorky. Finally, TMO tries to merge the solemn with the cheery on "Serious," which sounds a bit too summery to carry the weight of lyrics like "He put a razor to his wrist/Closed his eyes and made a fist/And he swore to God that he was serious." TMO is a tight, diligent band with some cool ideas and harmonies, but not much of a singular identity.