That's Not What I Heard
Reviewed by Steven Rubio
Thursday, January 25 2001, 4:32 PM
The Gossip have made an early name for themselves thanks to their infectious live performances. If this band had a motto, the word "dance" would be the key; lead singer Beth doesn't exactly insist that you'll dance to The Gossip beat, she just assumes you'll want to, and between her ferocious singing and the entertaining musical mix of Nathan on guitar and Kathy on drums (to say nothing of the dancer who served as the "fourth Gossip" when I caught them last summer,) the need to move to the noise is indeed irresistible. Now their first album, thats not what i heard, arrives, fourteen songs in barely over twenty-four minutes, conveying much of the urgency of their live shows while still pleasing listeners who are new to the band.
The band's instrumental makeup is intriguing for a group that prides itself on getting folks onto the dance floor. The absence of a bass player would seem to preclude the appearance of dance rhythms, but Kathy's drums offer a solid and consistent bottom. Nathan's guitar work is fascinating; lacking any other instruments, the entire melodic structure of the group lands on his shoulders. I was surprised to find, on first listen to the album, that I recognized many of the songs from last summer's concert, and here especially Nathan is the reason: what passes for hooks in these songs are almost entirely his snaky guitar lines.
Beth's vocals bring out the Southern influence evident throughout (though the band works out of the Northwest, they come originally from Arkansas.) When she sings "Honey, ain't no woman like a Southern grrl" in "Southern Comfort," The Gossip leaps past obvious influences like the Cramps, landing somewhere in the 1950s, sounding like Brenda Lee accompanied by Hasil Adkins. The stripped-down sound of The Gossip is often overwhelmed by Beth's big voice, leaving one to wonder how they might sound with fuller instrumentation. Nonetheless, thats not what i heard is the second-best introduction to the band's work (first best? see them live).
thats not what i heard is a Kill Rock Stars release