The Gossip
all-ages w/ Chromatics, the Charming Snakes
Fri May 10, Sit & Spin, 5 pm, $7.

The Gossip
21+ w/ Chromatics, Ursula & the Androids, Jackie & the Control Tops
Fri May 10, Sit & Spin, 9:30 pm $7.

Hot damn! A year and a half ago, when I was introduced to the Gossip's bluesy punk rock and passionate live shows, I didn't think they could get any better. Powerhouse vocalist Beth Ditto cast a spell on her audience with a don't- give-a-damn attitude while guitarist Brace Paine (a.k.a. Nathan Howdeshell) and drummer Kathy Mendonca supplied the dirty, sexy rhythms. Things were good then. But things are even better now.

The band's newest release, the Arkansas Heat EP, stays true to its name, making the Gossip's kick-in-the-ass blues even stickier as the songs project the heat of a humid, Southern summer. The Gossip's past records scream with restless, get-up-and-change-the-world power, and this new EP is no exception. When I asked Paine where this force came from, he laughed and said, "Maybe because we were locked up in Searchy, Arkansas, for 18 years, so now we have 18 years of energy waiting to be released."

Songs like "Arkansas Heat" and "(Take Back) the Revolution" are what being an agitated kid is all about--wanting something better, wanting something more, and screaming loud as hell to get it. "My mother worked every day of her life for a man who don't care/While all you do is criticize my body, my hair, or the clothes that I wear," sings Ditto on "Revolution," over a pounding bass drum and snarly guitar riff. "All I want--a revolution/All I want--a simple solution!" If you're not stomping your feet and shaking your ass with those demands, you must be dead, and the band will try their best to wake you from that coma. "We'll make people feel uncomfortable if they just stand there at our shows," promises Mendonca.

"Yeah," Ditto says in her sweet Southern-speak, "I will yell at them personally. I just get annoyed if people don't dance."

I don't see how you couldn't. Ditto dances like a mad woman on stage even if she is donning a sexy pair of three-inch high-heels, and Paine and Mendonca supply rhythms that simply can't be ignored. I said hot damn!