Mood School

But all the members bring a jazzy ambition to techno-conscious pop, without mucking up the hooks. Demo track one ("Mexico") recalls Police drummer Stewart Copeland, New Order bass master Peter Hook, and XTC's vocal and guitar touch all at once. At other times, the slow-burning structures and sparkling chords offset Ryan's earnest, un-macho lyrics.

When discussing the band's hypnotic effect, Ryan explains that "We play to people who are most aware at the moment, and try to get off on that. People give us the title of art-rock, which I guess is understandable, but I was never a big fan of Rush or Yes. We're just tired of guitar rock; it's been done right too many times, and you can't really expand much on the perfecters of that."

Perhaps symbolic of the 12 Rods's healthy creative tension, brother Evan politely disagrees about the redundancy of rock. "There was guitar rock in the '70s and there's guitar rock in the '90s. It's the same, yet it's an extension. I can see in 20 more years there'll be a whole new version of it altogether." Personally, I can hardly wait. But until then, I'll surrender to 12 Rods and the Twin Cities' ultramodern underground.

12 Rods perform a middle set tonight between Gusto Busto and Salmon Bladder 2000 at the Ace Bar (University and Vandalia), and next Thursday at Red Sea with Ultrasonics and Own. Visit the 12 Rods Web Site at

SPANNING THE GLOBE: Coincidentally, 12 Rods's current faves, Medicine, play the 7th Street Entry Sunday night with Long Fin Killie; check A List (page 23) for details. Other shows of note include the arrival of British chart-toppers Blur, touring the States to promote The Great Escape (Virgin). In fact, King of the Kinks Ray Davies endorses them, which isn't surprising since their tuneful depictions of English life and suburban psychosis trace back directly to the Kinks's second peak era, circa Arthur. Not to be missed are the opening act Whale, Sweden's answer to the Sugarcubes on acid (or maybe a high-dosage aphrodesiac). They lit up MTV last year with "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe," which is also on their randy, rowdy new CD We Care (Virgin)--which features some twisted knob-twisting from the globo-humpin' Tricky. Age restriction (18+) in effect! Thursday, $8/$10. Doors open at 8 p.m.... Also, German/American industrial giants KMFDM are a late addition to the First Avenue slate. They perform Sunday in the mainroom with Life of Agony, and American Records artists God Lives Underwater.

CLOSER TO HOME: One of Amphetamine Reptile's latest signings, Unsane, open for Guzzard Friday night in the Entry. The band has left Atlantic Records and just released Scattered, Smothered & Covered, recorded with Tim Mac at AmRep Studios. Local rockers to watch, Gnomes of Zurich, fill out the bill. Creeping Charlie opens. Friday, $6. Doors open at 8 p.m.... Earlier on Friday, Jim Rose Circus entertains us with a mainroom show around 7 p.m. Techno-rock adventurers Machines of Loving Grace open. $8/$10.

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