THE GOSSIP THAT'S NOT WHAT I HEARD KILL ROCK STARS
The Gossip are dangerous. Their barbed-wire guitar lines and primal, thunder-lizard drumbeats will drag you off somewhere smoky and lonely, and if you're lucky, you'll get a sloppy kiss or two before they tear your head off. This is fierce stuff, this stripped-to-the-bone, dirty, noisy, bristly, post-punk blues. It's a fireball and a half live, and it's still red-hot on this humble CD. Singer Mama Beth has a disarming truck-stop-gospel drawl that goes from sweet to snarl in seconds flat on tore-up love songs like "Where the Girls Are" and "Heartbeats," in which she sways through lines like "I'm not good at bein' alone/When you left me, my heart done stopped" with brave and wounded grace. The Gossip make the connection between their home state of Arkansas' swampy musical roots and the snotty guitar-slinging punk-pop of bands in their adopted Olympia, Washington—both have energy, both have soul, and both propel the Gossip's wail-and-holler rock & roll. Detroit's White Stripes crank out this sort of thing with a gritty city bent, but That's Not What I Heard is an album soggy with Southern Comfort—when Mama sings out, it's all alley-cat howls, empty beds and broken-down hearts. And it'll keep you up all night.