Live it Out
(Last Gang)

After two minutes of Emily Haines' ethereal keyboards and whispery vocals, Live it Out's opening track "Empty" erupts. The song's whirlwind midsection, all crunchy guitars and striking percussion, appears without warning and fades equally abruptly. It resembles a grunge-style dynamic shift, but with a subtle twist: The chorus provides cathartic release through jubilance, not angst. After moaning "When there's no way out/the only way out is to give in" during the introductory verse, Haines, seemingly emboldened by the assertive instrumentation, proclaims "I'm so glad that I'm alive." During Metric's next high-volume crescendo, Haines hoots with animated glee.

When Metric aren't using upbeat phrases to usher in feedback-drenched riffs, they're sneaking subversive content into their effervescent synth-powered songs. Haines' robotic repetition of the consumerist cycle "Buy this car to drive to work to pay for this car" recalls Dead Kennedys' "At My Job." But while the DK's tune rhythmically mimicked drudgery, Metric's song boasts a riveting pulse. With its barbed lyrics and noisy outbursts, Live it Out becomes one thrillingly unpredictable dance party. ANDREW MILLER

Metric perform Wed Nov 2 at the Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside

The Naked Truth
(Atlantic Records)

Ten years ago, Lil' Kim was making her recorded debut as the rapping eye candy of Notorious B.I.G.'s Junior M.A.F.I.A. and declaring herself "the black Erica Kane." That turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy for Brooklyn's Kimberly Jones. She's since lost her man and mentor, her crew turned against her, and now she's in jail for almost a year for lying to protect former associates. Minus the multiple nuptials, that's nearly as much drama as the All My Children regular she once claimed as her own.

But those who only know Lil' Kim's soap-operatic plotline might be surprised to learn that she has a decent track record with her music. She's always given more than a single and filler, famously delaying albums for months to achieve the right balance. The Naked Truth, her fourth full-length, improves on 2003's La Bella Mafia (which generated one single, "The Jump Off").

Naked rises above other Lil' Kim albums because it shows more than skin. She bares the drama of her betrayals throughout, and even directly snipes armchair critics ("Shut Up Bitch"). The subject matter is realer than anything she's talked up before; underneath it all, she seems like a fairly good girl who's some distance from the orgiastic image. So while Kim's gone to hang out in Philly for a while, she's thankfully left us with enough juice to go on until the big return. TAMARA PALMER

(In the Red)

This record is expansive... fucking HUGE in its reach. And it ain't "garage," not in the least. Porcella is far too well written and thoughtfully arranged to be stuck in the (no) class of the slurred, snotty, single-note holler. It's lively, engaging, and probably best described as a songwriter's record, sans "songwriter" pretense. The Snakes are writing to write their song, not bothering to cop any generic rock clichés. Honestly, it really feels like they've been affected by early country as the songs are built from well-conceived bits of melodies and rhythmic plucks spun together for a certain passive sweetness. But Porcella is not a country record. I'd reckon it's a little like Iggy Pop's version of Morphine, sans Ig's creepy vibe, so no hands down leather-clad crotch, thanks—with Tom Waits arranging via his assimilation of all that was Captain Beefheart's fucked up sense of fucked up. If that makes any sense at all... and if not, well, I promise Porcella is indeed quite brilliant. MIKE NIPPER

The Deadly Snakes perform Wed Nov 2 at Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Place

Tanglewood Numbers
(Drag City)

It's been four years since the Silver Jews released Bright Flight, the reassuring follow-up to 1998's superb American Water. For Tanglewood Numbers, frontman David Berman's wife Cassie handles much of the backup singing; Stephen Malkmus, absent for Flight, plays guitar on every number; and a host of guests, including Will Oldham and Bobby Bare Jr., make guest appearances. The Jews have played live only a handful of times, but now Berman is considering a tour in support of Numbers.

With the facts out of the way, let's get at the opinion, shall we? Numbers follows through with the more country-tinged aspects hinted at on earlier albums, but rockers like the opener "Punks in the Beerlight" and "How Can I Love You If You Won't Lie Down" recall the more epic compositions of Water. With backup singers, Bob Nastanovich's ever-tightening percussion, and Malkmus' increasingly confident guitar work, most of the slack is gone from the Jews' sound. The considerable cast of guests, augmentation from traditional country-music instruments, and relatively elaborate compositions find Numbers less dependent on Berman's vocals, but his subject matter still colors the tone considerably. Throughout, he sounds simultaneously dejected and self-assured—more the former when he delivers lines like "Sleeping is the only love" or "Who's who in hell?" But a definite highlight here is the two-part closer, "There is a Place," where, over lumbering drums and burning, driving guitar, Berman bellows, "I could not love the word entire/There grew a desert in my mind/I took a hammer to it all/I saw God's shadow in this world" with newfound conviction. GRANT BRISSEY

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