Guards of Metropolis 

Alligator

This Portland-based band includes two Norwegian women: singer Kristen Blix, whose full-lipped pout should make her an instant candidate for the cover of Rolling Stone; and Silver Sørensen, a bassist with a propulsive, no-nonsense approach. The boys in the band are drummer Jason Carter and guitarist Charles Normal, ex-Californians with long résumés in punk, pop, and jazz, including studio work, production, and touring experience with Frank Black. Together they've put together a punchy batch of tunes that combine the crunch of metal and the drive of early-'80s dance beats with an ability to write memorable pop melodies. Their sound — Garbage meets Blondie meets Sweet — is strangely familiar, but has its own character. "Down" has a blaxploitation/metal vibe and a lyric that smacks of S&M. On "Exhole," Blix sneers at a metal-loving ex with a pounding beat that brings to mind the frenzy of the Stooges, and in the country-meets-garage-band kiss-off "Already Gone," she jumps into her car and burns rubber down the highway. The lyrics are usually tepid put-downs of stupid girls, clueless guys, and music industry hacks, but the music is strong enough to turn off your brain and keep you rockin' till you drop.

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