MUSIC REVIEW | “Minnesota Beatles Project 5”: Actual Wolf and Caroll at Electric Fetus

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I like Actual Wolf. I like Caroll. But I forgot that I don’t love the Beatles. I learned getting my MA in Irish Literature that sometimes you choose your cultural icon team. It might be James Joyce vs. Samuel Beckett (Beckett, clearly); it might be Beatles vs. The Who. I like The Who. But I love anything Minnesota. So Tuesday night I went to a record release party at the Electric Fetus to hear Actual Wolf and Caroll celebrate the Minnesota Beatles Project 5 release.

Actual Wolf opened after returning from New York. The crowd was sparse but the Beatles ballads were a nice showcase for Actual Wolf’s voice. He stuck to the Beatles theme – playing a range of tune from “Black Bird” to “For No One.” Again a nice showcase for a voice that’s soft and easy to listen to. He focused on slower Beatles songs. A nice highlight was a cover done by the Bealtes – “Till There Was You from the Music Man.  

Caroll definitely picked up the tempo, opening with their Beatles cover “She Said, She Said.” The crowd had grown a bit and the harder sound was a nice balance to the softer sound of the Beatles. The followed up with a few of their own songs before leaning back into the Beatles repertoire. Caroll has a sound that I like. The drums set the pace for most of their songs, which is not unusual. Several of the band members play multiple instruments. Brian Hurlow plays keyboard and guitar. Charles McClung plays bass and percussion. OK it’s more like a shaker but It seems as if the songs get their tone from the added instruments. The keyboard adds an almost Eastern flavor to the song; the handheld percussion adds a beat.

In preparation for the show, I listened to the Minnesota Beatles Project 5. I won’t review the whole album; I’ll leave that to a Beatles fan, but I will give a nod to some of my favorite tunes that weren’t live at the Electric Fetus. I enjoyed “This Boy” by Cactus Blossoms. While pretty true to the original, they brought their unique country twang to a retro song. The Suburbs on the opposite end of the spectrum made “The Tax Man” their own with an entirely new approach that works in an old school Suburbs way. Gary Burger (from The Monks) does a great job with “I Feel Fine.” And a final mention of the Denfeld High School Jazz Band doing “Please Please Me.” I just like the idea of adding a Minnesota high school marching band. (Worth noting: Vega Productions donates 100 percent of net proceeds from the sale of the album to support music education in Minnesota.)