THE SOUND established by the British Invasion bands of the early '60s did more than define an era: It laid a stylistic foundation that continues to be built upon.

For example, it's nearly impossible to imagine what Chris Stamey's songs would be like had the Beatles never come along, even though none of his work is extensively Beatlesque. In fact, the closest his new EP, "Instant Excitement," comes to copping licks from the Fab Four is the way the drums in his version of John Lennon's "Instant Karma" mimick the original.

Rather, it's Stamey's feel for pop structures that owes much to the lads from Liverpool. "Ghost Story," for instance, is a musical experiment whose attention to detail and resolute focus on melody instead of mere sound seem directly descended from the likes of "Sgt. Pepper." Because his special effects are invariably tuneful, Stamey's occasional weirdness is always winning.

The Vipers, by contrast, refer explicitly to mannerisms of various early '60s bands. Still, though it's possible to hear bits and pieces of Rolling Stones or the Beatles in songs from "Outta the Nest," the band's overall approach is distinctive, demonstrating that the Vipers are worthy heirs to the American garage band tradition.

CHRIS STAMEY -- "Instant Excitement" (Coyote COY 007);

THE VIPERS -- "Outta the Nest" (PVC 8928); both appearing Friday at the Roxy.