Music Rhythm & Views

Young Tongue, "Death Rattle," Punctum Records and Raw Paw Records

The debut from this Austin

quintet (formerly known as The Baker Family) is a mix between the heavier and the dreamier sides of alt-rock.

Crisp production and fluid sequencing guide the album's strong first impression, but the album's broad stylistic range leaves Young Tongue with a somewhat vague identity.

Opening track "Horse And Whales" splits its time between lead vocalist and guitarist Stu Baker and his wife Liz, who steps in after the song's chaotic climax to deliver the ethereal coda.

"RXNLA" is more of a straight-forward rocker, somewhere between glam and goth, while "Heavy Metal Thunder" makes the most of Nathan Ribner highly melodic basslines.

"Sand Dance" is one of the album's stand-out tracks, both percussive and catchy enough to land somewhere in the dance-rock territory of bands like !!! and The Rapture.

Young Tongue does everything well enough to make what could be a hectic album a surprisingly smooth listen. But while plenty of bands have incorporated difficult-to-categorize into their own descriptive identity, the oh-so-thin line between inclusive and indecisive can be a band's undoing. Death Rattle has its share of strengths, but Young Tongue's future could ultimately go either way.

Young Tongue opens for Mr. Gnome, with Acorn Bcorn and Katterwaul, at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 26 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. $8 advance / $10 day of. 622-8848.

—Eric Swedlund,

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