Afresh with new album The Gossip returns to Portland Saturday


The Gossip

The excitement was palpable when Southerners turned Portlanders The Gossip started to really make it big with their last release Standing in the Way of Control. It’s hard to believe that was three years ago. In the interim frontwoman Beth Ditto has become a spokeswoman for chub love and queer rights and culture, appeared naked on the cover of two magazines, started her own plus-size clothing line, and in general burst onto the international stage as a powerful, innovative and inspirational rock goddess.

With this year’s release of Music for Men there is no doubt that the world is has heard the bold and beautiful voice of Ditto and is responding in a big way. Saturday they bring the sound home for those of us who have been appreciating the no-nonsense flamboyancy for a decade.

The new album, technically released this fall, has been sweeping the scene since its online release last June. Showcasing Ditto’s strong Arkansas vocal chords as prominently as ever, Music for Men, remains fresh and nuanced. The first single Heavy Cross sends it’s message of vulnerability through a beat-driven rock melody that balances the need for strength perfectly with the our need for community. The varied tempo and intensity of guitarist Brace Payne‘s riff echo the sentiment with aplomb. And it is clear the song has resonated worldwide, as I recently heard the track in a tiny bar in Playa del Carmen.


The Gossip's album artwork for new release 'Music for Men' featuring hot dyke drummer Hannah Blilie

The newer Love Long Distance is a more personal and delicate ballad expressing a soulful diary entry without the overuse of minor chord progressions. Its melancholy is balanced well with the brightly bobbing balloon characitures on skates in the video.

There are also plenty of more hidden gems such as the brazenly gay anthem Men in Love and the working class champion Dimestore Diamond. And the 80s synth-pop intro of Four Letter Word pays homage to the genre without repeating it completely.

In fact the only small misstep of Music for Men is the unfortunate lyrical choice of the line “Emotions are making me sad” on For Keeps. It is a small mistake I’m willing to overlook for this intensely personal peek into Beth Ditto’s psyche. Besides, words hardly matter when listening to her compelling siren’s call.

When the power-trio takes the stage at the Wonder Ballroom (128 NE Russell) this Saturday the 24th their natural energy will be boosted tenfold with a diverse all ages audience that has the energy of tweens in combination with the memory of longtime fans.

Openers, Men, and BoyJoy (featuring frontman Seth Gottesdeiner aka DJ Girlfriends) are perfect queer compliments, playing very different forms of danceable music.

Art school avant-garde rockers Men features former Le Tigre member JD Samson in addition to Michael O’Neill and Ginger Brooks Takahashi, with contributions from Johanna Fateman and Emily Roysdon. Fueled by the combination of dyke electro-dance and esoteric art-rock, Men should have no problem getting audience members moving. And their name makes them perfect Gossip tour partners.

Smaller local outfit, BoyJoy, should also have even the most reticent toes tapping with their sexy dancer-heavy pop. Gottesdeiner is adept at swaying skillfully and sexily while not sacrificing a note of his rich and beautiful voice. A pop star in the making if I ever saw one.

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