The Gossip

Movement is muddy water punk, songs for sweaty bodies disrobing piece by piece in the sticky heat of a Southern summer until they collide in the syncretic throes of lust and entropy. ("Stellaaaa!") The cover -- photocopied photos of the band members glued to a white background -- resembles a handmade 'zine from the Eighties. Guitarist Nathan Howdeshell. Singer Beth Ditto. Drummer Kathy Mendonca. Converse sneakers. Shaggy bangs. Black denim. Yes, the spirit of Joey Ramone is with them. But don't be misled: The most significant nod this band makes musically is not to Eighties punk, but to Sixties soul.

On the album's eleven tracks (almost all of them less than three minutes long), Ditto wails and hums like a head-nodding Southern Baptist in a church with no air conditioning on a Sunday in July. Movement has a good case of the choir claps as well as a lyrical style that echoes the repetitive incantations of Southern gospel: "Sun goes down, come back to me/Rivers rise, come back to me/Moon hang high, come back to me/Ohhh, let him come back to me."

Mendonca's simple, percussive drive on this album is superior, and Howdeshell's grimy wipe-your-forehead-and-keep-going guitar playing is on point. But the band probably hasn't reached its full potential yet. Ditto's Delta blues make her a standout -- if she turned down the punk (just a wee bit) and turned up the soul, it's possible she could go over like hot sauce on a Florida cracker's fingertips.

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Marli Guzzetta