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Local Licks

This week, we review Dave Smallen, Wave Array, Scene of Action, and Mass Fiction.

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Dave Smallen, Everything Changes and Nothing Changes. If the name Dave Smallen doesn't ring a bell, try Street to Nowhere. That's the talented young East Bay singer-songwriter's former band, signed to Capitol Records in 2006 and later disbanded. His solo debut is more mature and subdued than STN's wild-eyed pop-punk, comparing favorably to the likes of Bright Eyes and the Counting Crows. (self-released)

At Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St., San Francisco) on November 27. 9:30 p.m., $12

Wave Array, Cheapjack Moon. Like a more psychedelic Spoon or a more shambolic Pinback, Wave Array plays slightly to the left of contemporary indie-rock standards. The East Bay band's debut politely ignores prevailing trends for slower tempos and a hazier aesthetic. It's a fine line between losing your head in the clouds and wandering without focus, but Wave Array mostly gets it right. (self-released)

At the Starry Plough (3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) on November 28. 9 p.m., $7

Scene of Action, 20 Minute Hourglass EP. Fans of mainstream rock should be impressed with San Francisco indie band Scene of Action's latest offering. From instrumentation to production, the trio captures perfectly the dark, dynamic, and yearning style that has dominated modern rock radio for the last five or so years — and these six songs would feel quite at home on an arena rock stage. (PopSmear Records)

At the Rickshaw Stop (155 Fell St., San Francisco) on November 28. 8 p.m., $10

Mass Fiction, Genre. Like fellow local Josh Fix, San Francisco quintet Mass Fiction revives piano-based, Queen-inspired power-pop for a new generation. The difference is where they go with it: Mass Fiction's infusion of rough-edged alternative rock is more creative and original, yet less persuasive than Fix's authentic swagger. (The Nothing Room)

At the Elbo Room (647 Valencia St., San Francisco) on December 2. 9 p.m., $6

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