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Imperial Teen, Track Star, Henry's Dress
At the Great American Music Hall, it's pop for pop's sake with two sweets and a sour. First up is Henry's Dress, an Albuquerque, N.M., transplant, who have received far more (well-deserved) kind words from Fanzine America than from their new hometown. That's a good thing for the boy-girl-boy trio, but a bad one for anyone in S.F. who's overlooked the band's modish fuzz pop thus far.

On a good night Track Star, shifting from wistful boy-lost-girl lyrics to a screaming growl that demands the listener's empathy, are as emotive and paralyzing as their excellent 1995 EP Sometimes What's the Difference. On a bad one they're a low-rent Archers of Loaf. Hope for the best.

We should be suspicious of 30-year-olds writing pop songs, especially if they come from the mouths of folks who have pedigrees like Faith No More and Sister Double Happiness. Headliners and Bay Area attention-getters Imperial Teen would be a brilliant band if their parts -- simple instrumentation, catchy melodies, clever lyrics with a spiteful bite -- added up to their logical sum. But the quartet somehow fails to make it work. Instead, their debut, Seasick, like their bouncy live show, is formulaic and smug: something that, in a few years, you'll be embarrassed to admit polluted your CD collection. Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque comes to mind -- you never cared for them much after their singles, right?

-- Jeff Stark

Imperial Teen, Track Star, and Henry's Dress play Friday, Jan. 24, at 9 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell. Tickets are $7 in advance and $8 at the door; call 885-0750.

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