Gossip, "Music for Men" (Columbia)
For any rebellious gal who's slashed her hair and skirts short and not cared, Gossip's "Dimestore Diamond" is nothing short of an anthem.
It's the best song on "Music for Men," the trio's newest album, which diverges from the band's usual bluesy garage rock to beat-centric dance tunes sleekly produced by Grammy winner Rick Rubin.
"Everybody knows/ But no one can tell/ Homemade haircut/ But she wears it well/ She's a dimestore diamond," trills singer Beth Ditto, her Southern twang echoed over a killer bass line.
Longtime Gossip fans may miss the group's older sound – fabulously messy and DIY between Ditto's growl and guitarist Brace Paine's stompy punk-blues lines – but those open to the band's new direction will be rewarded.
While some songs coast a little too much on synth bleeps and club beats, tunes such as "Heavy Cross," "Men in Love" and "Vertical Rhythm" are pure catchiness, infused with personal-political sentiment and staccato riffs.
Ditto, known as much for her plus-size fashion savvy as her booming voice, has the kind of presence that can cross boundaries. On "Music for Men," she channels Gloria Gaynor and Chaka Khan just as much as punk muses.