I don't expect too much from the music I listen to. A band doesn't have to be particularly innovative to grab my attention. The songs don't have to be earth-shatteringly complex or emotionally resonant. And the musicians themselves don't have to be brilliant in their instrumentation. I mean, all of that helps, but I'm quite capable of finding something redeeming in most bands - something that I can grab on to and say, "hey, this isn't bad and, under certain circumstances and with certain considerations, you might enjoy them."
I cannot say that about The Gossip.
It's a shame - by all rights I should really like the Gossip's music. I'm not adverse to a little classic rock homage every now and then. I appreciate bands that show an appropriate understanding of the influence blues played on the history of music. And I do like music that sounds rough around the edge - unpolished and a little under produced.
All of these characteristics are present on That's Not What I Heard. The album bears an unwholesome resemblance to Zeppelin IV. The guitarist plays nothing but straight blues rock riffs - filled syncopated power chords. And the wailing female vocalist recalls a cross between Janis Joplin and Robert Plant (or perhaps Sandy Denny on PCP).
Unfortunately, none of this is accomplished with competency (much less distinction). The style mimicry is too obvious. The talent is lacking. And the vocalist's caterwauling makes me want to scream. There's something a little forced about the album - as if this was a scattershot paint-by-numbers affair, with each band member picking their "favorite influence" and moving on from there.
I can't really think of one reason to actually listen to That's Not What I Heard. It's not good; it's not even mediocre. And it's not even so horrible that you gasp and start laughing. It's just one of those album you file away on the shelves and promise never to think of again.