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When they were barely out of high school, Beth Ditto, Nathan Howdeschell (AKA Brace Paine), and Kathy Mendonca high-tailed it out of Arkansas for the hipper pastures of Olympia, Washington, where they formed the kind of dirty, sullen garage-soul band Jack White prayed to baby Jesus for. The Gossip's edge in the garage revivalist game? Ditto, a chubby, sweaty, sexy dynamo with a penchant for stripping onstage and a voice like a shot of whiskey -- grainy, fiery, and strong as hell. Ditto's soulful pipes o'steel plus Paine's Southern-fried guitar plus Mendonca's hip-swinging drums added up to a sound that got people's attention: Kill Rock Stars, which released all the band's full-length albums and a fistful of EPs; the White Stripes, Sleater-Kinney and Le Tigre, each of which toured with the Gossip; and queer kids, for whom the band is an out-and-proud icon, willing to wrestle issues like sexism, homophobia, and body fascism. Before recording their third album, the Gossip relocated to Portland, Oregon, parted ways with Mendonca over stylistic differences, and replaced her with Hannah Blilie (of Shoplifting) whose friskier beat helped shape the band's more dance-oriented sound on 2006's Standing in the Way of Control. They continued down that alt-disco path with their first major label album, 2009's Music for Men.
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