Various Minnesota Beatle Project Vol. 3

The Minnesota Beatle Project is such a noble endeavour that it isn't fair to assess its musical prowess, as that isn't the point. Started back in 2009, it's a way to raise funds for music and arts education in Minnesotan public schools. The last two volumes of Beatles covers have featured the likes of Soul Asylum and the Meat Puppets, plus a bunch of other artists that might not be as well known outside their home state, and have helped to provide grants to more than 15,000 students. Vol. 3 demonstrates the problem of trying to cover the Beatles: the majority of the songs are so familiar that only radical reworkings stand out, while straightforward versions are completely redundant. Those in the former category include Solid Gold, whose synth-laden version of George Harrison's "Love You To" is the highlight of the collection. Red Pens also do relatively well, adding a touch more rawness to "Helter Skelter." More mundane are Motion City Soundtrack's faithful take on "Here Comes the Sun" and Tapes 'n Tapes's equally ordinary version of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." There's nothing particularly terrible amongst the other 11 songs ― there's a middle school orchestra that received a grant through the program enthusiastically covering "A Hard Day's Night," which amply shows the point of the project. Sometimes it really isn't about the music. (Vega)