PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Gossip: Arkansas Heat

Mark Desrosiers

Now those of you who haven't yet caught their greasy magic should immediately skip down to the local record dealer and pull out their big 10-inch record, Arkansas Heat, a quick and noisy platter about Arkansas, love, and revolution.


Gossip

Arkansas Heat

Label: Kill Rock Stars
US Release Date: 2002-05-07
Amazon
iTunes

Bellowing and clanging noisily like a ravenous banshee swooping down on the Ozark Plateau, Olympia-via-Arkansas trio the Gossip stuck their ass in our faces last year with the wonderfully loud and bracing queer-psychobilly album That's Not What I Heard. To my ears, it was one of the year's best albums, a fun, rude, and righteous twist on the usual Kill Rock Stars lady-noise and grrrl-punk. As swampy guitarist Brace Howdeshell shoveled out the speed-cramps riffs and near-tribal drummer Kathy Mendonca doled out that bash-n-crash Little Red River funk, lead singer Beth Ditto rent the air with her howling and hectoring. The album was humid, jagged, hyper, and jubilant. Wanda Jackson on fast-forward. The Troggs pummeled by lesbians.

Now those of you who haven't yet caught their greasy magic should immediately skip down to the local record dealer and pull out their big 10-inch record, Arkansas Heat, a quick and noisy platter about Arkansas, love, and revolution. At six songs in 19 minutes, you may think you're not getting your enormous Arkansas helping of gravy on top of them musical biscuits. But when you notice that one track called "(Take Back) The Revolution" is 10 minutes long, and the other five are wound so tight you get pummeled and bloodied by the psycho sucker-punches they deliver so neatly -- well then you know this is the new Gossip album, EP or not.

I doubt that Searcy, Arkansas has ever gotten its own anthem before, so the Gossip gives it a go on the sweaty title track. The song's sound -- like the rest of the EP -- is suitably grungy and live, a sloppy drag through the Arkansas mud. "I ain't a child but I ain't full grown", that's Beth Ditto's claim, and you'll really really try to believe her, but you can't. First of all, Ditto is huge, an imposing stage presence and a commanding vocalist whose enormous voice rivals both Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker and the Star Death's Blueberry MacGregor. So if she ain't full grown then neither am I. But still I see what she means, because she's still in love with noise and with rebellion, and this song churns and burns so quickly that when it's finished (in under two minutes) you'll be reaching for a cold washcloth.

"Rules for Luv" and "Gone Tomorrow" are nice additions to their wheelbarrow full of tunes, noisy, lusty, fast and hot. But "Lily White Hands" (just over a minute long) cocks its funk in your direction with the jerking and bashing repetition of Mendonca's drums and the life truth that one should "Never trust a man with lily white hands". While those songs will burn you up, "Ain't It the Truth" drops a big ice cube down your shirt with its shaky themes of puppy love, as Ditto loudly and melodically proclaims, "Ain't it the truth / I got a crush on you" while her knees wobble and her belly aches. Love song of the year, that one, proving yet again that lesbians seem to know how to do the job much better than the het song doctors descending on the music studios.

Finally, we get to the revolution. "(Take Back) The Revolution" begins with some slow guitar feedback (think the Gang of Four's "Anthrax"), which is sure to get your attention after the crackling fast tunes you just heard. Then things get swampy and funky, and Ditto's double-tracked voice comes out of the brush to aim both barrels at complacency and patriarchy. "All you do is criticize my body and the clothes I wear". "My mama works every day of her life for a man who just don't care". The song just doesn't want to end as it builds and the call-and-response kicks in and the drums bash more urgently and guitars tumble out of the mix until, eight (eight!) urgent minutes later the feedback abruptly starts and the song ends the way it began.

When it comes to taking back the revolution, the Gossip do the job quite well indeed. Arkansas Heat is a wonderful 10-inch, and let's hope they can keep making this noise forever, even when they're full grown.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Music

'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Music

Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.

Music

MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.