Monday, May 18th, 2009

Gossip – Heavy Cross

But how will they do without a new series of Skins to hang this off?…


Ulrik Nørgaard: The Gossip aren’t broke so they’ve decided not to fix themselves.

Michaelangelo Matos: I’m sure this will get a lot of “Oh god, enough already,” maybe not here but elsewhere — the post-punk groove is so passe, right? But I like how they alter things with a bridge that’s really more a breakdown, and Beth Ditto’s really turned into a cunning user of silence. So’s the rhythm section.

Tom Ewing: As Mike Love so wisely said, “you don’t fuck with the formula”. Gossip’s aggressive pursuit of exactly the same sound as last time will give them an even bigger market share in the (admittedly dwindling) dance-punk category and should do just enough business to let Beth D consolidate her celebrity niche. But at least this is cynicism you can wiggle to.

Colin Cooper: All the way through, I kind of want Beth Ditto to really let-rip vocally on this tune. I needn’t have worried – at 3.25 she gives the band’s comeback single the one thing it had been lacking: her extremely impressive Blondie/Cyndi histrionics and achieves a kind of equilibrium of excellence with the band’s driving 80s disco-punk, and all is right in the world once more.

Martin Skidmore: I quite like their punky music with a touch of funk, and Beth Ditto remains a powerhouse vocalist. On the other hand, there isn’t much to this beyond reasonably lively riffing and her singing: very little song, is the basic problem.

Iain Mew: I’d never heard any Gossip song apart from “Standing in the Way of Control” before this. Nothing much against this, and the scratchy guitars do their thing very well, but problem is I feel like I still haven’t.

Chuck Eddy: I never got Beth Ditto as a garage-punk soul-disco diva, not even once, though I’ve long suspected I’d like some of her stuff if I investigated her more. This track doesn’t quite sell me on her, either, but it does increase my suspicions that something might. Guess she’s going for ye olde Laura Branigan (or Deborah Allen circa “Telepathy”) metal-disco Euro-sleaze flashdance wrecking bawl over “Edge Of Seventeen” synthbuzz. I don’t even gag at the Cranberries-style hee-haw yodel parts, and her vocal shit-fit probably has at least as much dance in it as Karen O’s does (not that that’s saying much.) And I’d say Dittohead’s big bam boom is more devastating than, say, Jordin Sparks’s in “Battlefield,” too. But she’s no Branigan — just sounds too uncooked or something.

Hillary Brown: You know, Ken Jennings was just writing on his blog this past week about songs with sirens in them and how they’re kind of a hazard because, even if you know it’s just the song and have heard the song thousands of times, it still kind of makes you look around nervously. This would be one of those, although I’m not positive they’re supposed to be sirens in the background. The song itself? Pretty good jumpy post-punk thing.

David Raposa: I’m guessing the new guy (Rick Rubin) should be given the “credit” for making The Gossip come off like they’re a couple Yeahs (and one Karen O) short of the new-disco mark this tune’s trying to hit. Not so much like “Edge of Seventeen” as the intro would suggest — more like “Edge of Seventy-Seven” amirite? If folks ever wondered what a distracted Corin Tucker would sound like fronting Radio 4…

Andrew Unterberger: I remember reading some gargantuan article about Rick Rubin from the New York Times magazine some years ago where he tried to hype up Gossip as the next big thing. Seemed like a stretch then, and I’ve never heard anything to dissuade me from that, including this fairly serviceable but none-too-inspirational post-punk run-through. If Rick is (was?) going to save the music industry after all, I’d say he’ll need to deploy better prophets than this.

3 Responses to “Gossip – Heavy Cross”

  1. Gotta say, despite me having been a fan of plenty of post-punk since back before anybody called it that (and despite me living in Brooklyn and editing countless pieces on the alleged movement during its so-called “revival” a couple years ago, and despite punk + disco = post-punk in many cases), the genre’s name did not occur to me once while listening to this song. Which isn’t to say its a wrong description or anything, but just out curiosity, what specific post-punk that people think it sounds like? Romeo Void, Bush Tetras, Delta 5, Au Pairs, who? Because I don’t hear any of that. (David Raposa at least mentioned Corin Tucker + Radio 4, which I don’t really hear either, but I’m talking post-punk in it original, not revived, guise.) (It’s also possible that people are using the genre name differently now, who knows. It’s not like I listen to the Gossip much — honestly couldn’t name a single one of their songs before this, and it’s possible I never even heard the tracks that everybody seems to be arguing that this one is retreading — but I never realized people filed them that way these days.)

    In other news, an outtake from my review:

    I’m still unclear on the issue of whether Beth is related to Cliff Ditto (former manager of the minor league Walla Walla Padres — I swear I’m not making that up).

  2. Chuck, it’s soul as played by a heavy-footed hard rock band, which means that if it came out in the late ’60s it would be retrospectively proto-punk (sorta in the way the MC5 or even Big Brother are proto-punk), in the late ’70s it might be (vaguely) punk or new wave (depending which genre title you were arbitrarily using), in the late ’80s, since it’s not stereotypically “punk” (a genre that no longer has a range that would include early Blondie or early Television or early Ubu or early Talking Heads, though it once did, when they were all early), it’s indie, in the late ’90s it’s not fey or shoegaze enough to be indie, but not grunge enough to be alternative, so maybe, by default, and since it’s not stereotypically punk, but sorta comes from punk, it’s post-punk (as in “after punk” rather than “deriving from the original post-punk era”), and that goes even more for the ’00s, where it’s definitely too heavy to be indie, even though it is indie. Not that I’d have called it “post-punk,” mind you.

    My guess is that the Gossip connect best live, even if they did once have a studio single go top five in the U.K., and even though I’ve never seen them live. I’ve got an awfully out-of-tune live version of “Standing In The Way Of Control” on the Girls Rock benefit CD, and it whomps the studio version.

  3. Yeah, I saw them years and years ago and thought they were one of the best live acts I’d ever seen, but in that special way that makes you completely unbothered about ever hearing any studio stuff. So I’m happy they found a way to make the studio work for them.