Music Previews

BEATLEMANIA! AMERICA MEETS THE BEATLES

Experience Music Project, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues–Thurs.;10 a.m.–9 p.m. Fri.–Sat.;10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.; closed Mondays.

Exhibiting through December 2004. Adults, $19.95; seniors and youth (13–17), $15.95; ages 7–12, $14.95; 6 and under, free.

"Do the Beatles still matter?" pondered a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, and indeed the question burns in the minds of many people who aren't 49 or younger. The rest of us will note that their records still stand up spectacularly well, particularly when utilized by other people—hip-hop DJ Danger Mouse's new The Grey Album, which matches snippets from the Beatles' self-titled 1968 "White Album" to Jay-Z's farewell Black Album, for example, or Nike's use of "Revolution" in its sneaker ads back in 1988, a time that seems almost as far away as Beatlemania itself. Smartly, EMP's new exhibit emphasizes both the farther-reaching aspects of that 40-year-old phenomenon and some rather personal responses to it. L.A.'s Laurel Sercombe and Mercer Islander Diane Katz provide rather touching mementos of their teenaged fandom, and there are some entertaining examples of the cash-in shadow industries surrounding the band's U.S. breakthrough—Beatle banjos, Beatle bongos, magnetic Beatle hair, Beatle bobble-heads, phony Beatles albums by groups like In-Sect and the Manchesters, even subsequent and non-directly related items like a Partridge Family lunch box and a collectible Frank Sinatra plate. Just as entertaining are the antiquated responses the band's arrival stirred up: I almost fell down laughing at the Saturday Evening Post's headline, "THE SECRET OF THE BEATLES: An intimate account of their American tour and a probing analysis of their incredible power to evoke frenzied emotions among the young." Or, even more to the point, among the young's most desperate marketers. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

SOUND TEAM

Crocodile Cafe at 9 p.m.

Thurs., March 11. $7.

Something threw me off about Sound Team the first time I heard their self-titled demo CD a little over three years ago. It was amateurish, sloppy, overly stuffed with failed living-room-studio experiments, creaking under the weight of too much forced whimsy, and riddled with singing that was—to put it diplomatically—as widely varied as the vocalist's ability to stay in key, any key. But for someone who'd sooner listen to Stereopathetic Soulmanure a dozen times before he listens to Sea Change once, it was strangely endearing, like a summer-weekend-afternoon stoner joke that retained some residual post-sobered-up amusement. Four-track electric-piano-assisted Southwestern psych-folk lo-fi indie of their ilk can have a way of winning listeners over once it coalesces, and it's usually a safe bet to stick with groups like Sound Team with the knowledge that the farting-around process will eventually streamline their sound. The Austin group's limited-edition self-released cassette-only EP Yes is a milestone in that streamlining process, the comedy drawls and clumsy synths of earlier efforts whittled away to reveal a smooth sheen of downtempo pastoral drone-pop. "It's Obvious What's Happening Here" ebbs and flows on a wave of synths and rattletrap drum breaks that'd do Jason Pierce proud, a gaggle of sun-melted Modest Mouse chords tremble throughout "Don't Turn Away," and "Ballad for Tina 2" plays like an excerpt from the score to an alternate version of Scarface where Tony Montana's a laid-back mescaline kingpin. NATE PATRIN

MASON JENNINGS

Chop Suey at 9 p.m.

Fri., March 12. $12.

Ignore the Dave Matthews comparisons. Sure, Minneapolis' Mason Jennings shares part of that smarmy mediocrity's demographic: the weekend earth monkeys looking to spend a few hours getting barefoot in the head who care more about having a clean, poorly lit place to trash and an unobtrusive hunk onstage than they do about, oh, music. Most of them probably think Jennings and Matthews sound alike 'cause they're both not rap or metal. The "next Dylan" crap Jennings has been saddled with is pure wishful thinking on his hometown's part, born of a curious refusal to admit that Asbury Park seized that trophy 30-plus years ago, shortly before it turned to mayonnaise. Jennings is more of a gradual-reverse Dylan, in the sense that he made his mark in Minneapolis rock before inching out of the folkie closet onto Prairie Home Companion. Given the fact that Hootenanny tanked long before he was born, it's about the most appropriate media setting that this kindred spirit of Greg Brown and Iris DeMent is going to find. Jennings' latest release, Use Your Voice (Bar/None), is folk music, pure and simple. You can almost hear the sing-along on the album's standout track, "Ballad of Paul and Sheila," a eulogy for the Wellstones, when Jennings slides gently (the only way he does anything) into the chorus with "Hey, senator/I wanna say/All the things you fought for did not die today/Hey, senator/I'm gonna do/All the things I can to live my life like you." Jennings wears his heart on his sleeve like that all the time—and why not? It's the only option open to a critter so utterly lacking in guile. Besides, you try and find a chest cavity big enough to hold it. ROD SMITH

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