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Music artist as music fan

Dain Norman evokes John Lennon and the '50s music Lennon loved

Beyond a vocal similarity with John Lennon, Dain Norman loves the same music that inspired Lennon. Photo credit: Facebook

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The careers of John, Paul, George and Ringo, post-Beatles, is a nearly ideal case study in the separate personalities that make up a band, and the effects of isolating them in solo projects. Harrison was free to explore his spiritual side, and released the triple-album masterpiece that he apparently had inside him all along; McCartney retreated to a farm to record an album of lo-fi pop oddities, and then indulged in his biggest crowd-pleasing tendencies with Wings; Lennon had nobody in his way to reign in his caustic, experimental side; and Starr, through sheer likability and guilelessness, had a number of hits written and performed for him by a number of world-class musicians (including McCartney).

Given the time and the freedom to do whatever they wanted, the four Beatles alumni created music that, while certainly containing some career highs, was ultimately nowhere near as consistent as their work in the Beatles. Of these artists, Lennon's solo work is, I think, the most fascinating. While his uncompromising, emotionally devastating debut, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, gets the most praise, I'm more interested in Rock ‘n' Roll, a covers album made up of ‘50s and ‘60s songs. The album has a famously troubled history, basically being the circuitous result of a lawsuit Lennon lost, but the contents of it are fairly revealing: calling back to the Beatles' early days as a club band in Hamburg, before they made it big and helped usher in the British Invasion, Lennon covers songs that clearly meant a lot to him. It's a portrait of the master artist as a music fan.

Tacoma musician Dain Norman carries with him some of the spirit present on Rock ‘n' Roll (minus the legal troubles). Besides possessing a vocal similarity to Lennon, Norman also has an affinity for ‘50s and ‘60s rock, especially the same R&B that inspired the Beatles, and the British Invasion that the Beatles helped inspire. While most of his recordings are original tunes, he also covers Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Beatles' own "Oh! Darling." Norman started producing music as a solo artist, but has since taken on a full band, now known as the Chrysalis Effect. Dain Norman's released a number of songs over the last couple of years, but only one composed EP, back when his group went by the Dain Norman Band. Saturday finds the release party for the self-titled Dain Norman and the Chrysalis Effect EP.

The first single off of Norman's new EP, "6 AM Hangups," still carries with it the vibe of Lennon and the British Invasion, but it dirties up the sound and leans further into ‘70s rock territory. It's a frantic rave-up of a tune, taking full advantage of Norman's sometimes ragged voice and promising an endearingly shaggy take when it's performed live. On Norman's earlier recordings, he finds his best balance in songs like "Don't Pretend," a bouncy track that features what might be his best, most earworm-y melody. In the bones of Norman's music, besides its clear affection for old rock and R&B, is the nifty, oddball genre-mashing of Dr. Dog. Even when there's a clear desire to reinterpret the sounds of music past, Norman doesn't merely dig up those sounds and present them in their original form, instead transforming them into something more idiosyncratic through the mere act of reviving them.

I'm a person who finds myself not only nostalgic, but nostalgic for when my favorite bands were nostalgic, so it's fitting that I'd dig Dain Norman and the Chrysalis Effect. If you've also felt unstuck in time, pining for an age before you were alive, you may also feel at home with this band.

DAIN NORMAN AND THE CHRYSALIS EFFECT, w/ Sister Madame, 7 p.m., Saturday, March 17, no cover, Tacoma Brewing Co., 1116 Court E., Tacoma, 253.242.3370

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