Tone Rodent 

Tone Rodent (Ungabunga Records)

A rolling electro-bass wave, the first thing you hear on Tone Rodent's new self-titled album, is like the trumpet call of a herald. And here is what the guy with a Prince Valiant haircut is here to tell you: This is not your typical St. Louis rock release. Tone Rodent is sometimes gorgeous, sometimes thrilling and, yes, sometimes disappointing. But this is still an exceptional record.

That first track, the instrumental "Synaesthesia," is a grand shoegazer instrumental with echoing melodies and fuzzed-out bliss -- a promising opener. Track two is a little more subtle, a little more Jesus and Mary Chain. Still getting the big thumbs up. And then we hit "xx," a paint-by-numbers garage rocker that ruins the mood that the first two songs had built. And so it goes through the rest of the album, as Tone Rodent mixes the interesting and strangely pretty with songs that excite the crowd when the band plays live but don't work as well on disc. The gems outnumber the clunkers, making this a great local release. But hopefully Tone Rodent will pick a direction and stick with it.

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