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Arkansas Heat EP

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Album Review

Arkansas Heat revels in the soulful, blues-driven rock & roll niche that the Gossip so carefully contrived with 2000's That's Not What I Heard, but with a rawer, almost live-sounding production. And it plays like a frisky night walk during the summertime in the French Quarter. Contributing to the sultriness of the EP is charismatic singer Beth Ditto's swaggering attitude, which lingers between topics of lust and getting it on. Illustrating this point is "Rules for Luv" — the guitar is loud, the snare hits hard, and Ditto growls and wails with some of the most robust pipes you've ever heard ("If you're not certain, honey, I'll make your sure"). It's convincing enough to get a straight girl on her knees. The aforementioned number, like the rest of the EP, flirts with passion and maintains a danceable beat, thanks to Kathy Mendonca's simplistic drumming skills. The Gossip tilt their hat towards the group's roots, which lie south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Vocally, there are nods to Mama Cass and Maria Muldaur. Guitar-wise, there are influences from roots-driven punk groups like the Gories or Mick Collins' cover band, the Dirtbombs, as well as punk purveyors Sonic Youth. The noise-driven dissonant beginning of "(Take Back) The Revolution" is evidence of the latter comparison. Guitarist Nathan Howdeshell describes the complex chords he constructs as "a bit more dangerous" than That's Not What I Heard, "especially in the ways of tuning." Howdeshell's memorable guitar licks combined with Mendonca's classic blues-styled drumming and Ditto's powerful vocals makes for a 19-minute blast of in-your-face gospel-punk that'll make you wanna shake it.


Formed: 1999 in Searcy, AR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Originally from Searcy, Arkansas, this punk trio moved to Olympia, WA, joining the roster of the indie rock label K Records. Guitarist Nathan (aka Brace Paine), drummer Kathy, and singer Beth Ditto proclaimed, "We started a band 'cause we were bored. Our mission is to make you dance, and if you're not gonna dance, just stay at home and listen to the oldies station." K released a self-titled 7" in 1999, and their full-length debut, That's Not What I Heard, was distributed by Kill Rock Stars in late...
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Arkansas Heat EP, Gossip
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