Portland -- by way of Arkansas and Olympia, Washington-- three piece The Gossip have had intriguing existence -- thanks to their outspoken lead singer Beth Ditto. Ditto, who refers to herself as a "fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas" and constantly pushes the envelope of aesthetic appeal -- particularly in these times of dolled up, super-thin female figureheads (just look at her on the cover of British publication Love). The band's 2006 album Standing in the Way of Control finally landed them on indie rock radars, well deserved after the band's previous seven years of quality work. Now, Ditto and company have landed on Columbia Records, working with one of the best living music producers: Rick Rubin. His tutelage has given The Gossip's new album, Music for Men, that luster and polish that only he's capable of. The album is a tight, cohesive offering that prominently displays Ditto's trademark vocals with the band's funky indie rock.
My first taste of Music for Men came by way of the brilliantly catchy lead single "Heavy Cross," showing me that the band was primed for a more rock-centric album, as opposed to Standing in the Way of Control's funkier indie rock rhythms. Music for Men is the band's major label debut, so those fears of their sound becoming watered down for mainstream appeal are certainly justified. Beth Ditto's vocals, however, are delightfully distant from anything in today's indie rock scene. Her stacatto-yet-soulful vocals are the band's trademark, and they are on prominent display throughout Music for Men.
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