Dope Body – Saturday 7″

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Dope Body
Saturday 7″
Drag City

Last year saw Baltimore’s hybrid noise/punk/rock machine Dope Body emerge amidst a hail of smoke and luminance as they came into further consciousness following the thoroughly brilliant and diverse ‘Natural History’, which showcased dazzling guitar work, foot to the floor rock anthems with punk rock intensity and hip-swaggering joy. I caught a bit of them live when they toured the UK last October, and though I only saw three songs, it proved what a phenomenal act they are in the making.

Saturday’, a 7” single, is the first new material to emerge from the band since that album. The A side features ‘Leather Head’, a song they’ve been wheeling out live up to now; a brooding track riding a bass-driven pulse and a primal beat before jumping into a refrain of ‘could’ve been anybody/should’ve been nobody’. If this track was an animal, it’d be a panther, its slinky dark body stalking its prey in the shadows of the night, before racing out for a swift kill. Conversely, the B-side ‘Youth Relic’, is much like the Dope Body of ‘Natural History’, beginning a little like ‘Road Dog’ with a build-up on the hi-hat, crescendoing with more sonic fireworks from the supremely talented Zachary Utz.

Saturday’ drops on Monday 18 th March through Drag City, and this feral beast keeps on kerb-crawling through the night. I’ll be well pleased if this confirms a new album for this year, as right now I can’t tire of this band. This release might not be the joyous celebration that was ‘Natural History’, nor the skronk-punk days of old, but it’s a super fine morsel of meat to savour for now.

Peter Clegg

Dope Body – Youth Relic/Saturday promo
[vimeo 60007514]

Pre-order ‘Saturday’ 7” here

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Live Review: Dope Body @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 23/09/2012

w/ Blacklisters, Fawn Spots + Two Trick Horse

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It feels as though I’ve been the only one counting down the weeks and days to seeing Baltimore, Maryland’s Dope Body hit these shores, aside from the PR company who brought them to my attention. Their latest album ‘Natural History‘ is one of the standout albums of the year, but you’d be hard pressed to find it making waves in many other places apart from right here, and indeed the turnout for this gig is moderate at best. No one can blame the Brudenell Social Club, who are always bringing over scores of alternative acts and putting on some of the best shows in the city of Leeds. They haven’t won a bunch of awards for nothing. Still, I feel like Dope Body are a sleeper band of sorts, waiting for the day the wider press wakes them up. I suspect that they don’t care for popularity – tell me guys if I’m wrong – but in a weird way it feels like some sort of dark secret waiting to be revealed.

Me and my brother-in-law arrive around halfway through Two Trick Horse‘s set, swigging our beer as they crank out one crunching riff after another. The noise trio don’t manage to get many people off the comfy seats at the front of the venue, but it turns out to be a bit of a shame, as they juxtapose between riffs excellently, angling through songs as much as their flexible bassist, who could probably trump anyone in a limbo contest. Still, they become my new discovery of the day, and it’s to be hoped they can be a bigger part in this new wave of noise rock bands that seem to be emerging.

By contrast, York trio Fawn Spots seem a little more awkward, initially overcoming one or two technical glitches to ramble through a set that’s at times part upbeat indie rock and part post-hardcore without the rage. Not my cup of tea but there’s definitely room for these guys to develop their potential, depending on which side of the fence they fall upon.

I really, really want to like Blacklisters, I really do. Their unhinged racket makes for some of the best heavy music Leeds has to offer, but tonight they’re on home turf and that ends up with the singer basically dicking around between songs too much. He says they wouldn’t play ‘Trickfuck’ because ‘everything knows how it goes, everyone goes mental…‘ etc. I suspect really its cos they overran their set. When they do crank out songs like ‘Mouthpiece’ and new track ‘The Bully’ they are truly a force, their vocalist being suitably imposing and sneery, but the constant banter ruins any attempt at continuity, which is what you’d want if you want a band like this to cave your head in. Maybe next time, in a venue they can’t quite call home.

Still, all these events conspire so that by the time tonight’s headliners hit the floor, I’m already thinking about that last train home. There’s time to bear witness to two of ‘Natural History‘s finest cuts: a cracking opening salvo of ‘Weird Mirror’, starting with its bleeps and bloops before taking us on a kaliedoscopic rock journey; and ‘Road Dog’. Vocalist Andrew Laumann appearing like the bastard lovechild of Iggy Pop and Alex Zane, seemingly feeling every convulsion that rumbles through the floor, twisting like a python and going fucking mental when required, i.e. at all times. Zachary Utz is also a dab hand at guitar, firing off a seering, joyous solo during ‘Road Dog’. Alas, we can’t really continue the experience beyond the third song (a number I’m honest enough to say I couldn’t identify), and leave as the opening, brooding strains of ‘Out of my Mind’ enter the fray.

It was a decent turnout if disappointing nowhere near a sellout. Fair enough, the Brudenell isn’t the easiest place to get to on a Tuesday night, but I’m still scratching my head at why the wider UK rock press haven’t picked up on Dope Body yet. Are they too hipster, or something? Sure, they don’t all dress like the hardest rocking band, but why should that matter? Their appeal stretches wider than the confines of their current popularity. I’m sure if they can keep producing records like ‘Natural History‘ the penny will drop for us here in the UK. Irrespective of that, hopefully Dope Body’s return to these will be more well received next time. If they can party out like that all night, I’m pretty sure we owe it to them to do the same.

Peter Clegg

TWO TRICK HORSE

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FAWN SPOTS

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BLACKLISTERS

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DOPE BODY

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Unsane – Wreck

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Unsane
Wreck
Alternative Tentacles

Unsane have been around for 24 years now. Nearly a quarter of a century. A testament to a band that has rigourously stuck to its guns, ploughing the same path, all pent with anger and venom, while various contemporaries have appeared and then either fallen by the wayside or maudled along with varying degrees of success.

Wreck’ is the thirteenth album of the New York noise-rock trio’s career and doesn’t offer any surprises, just plenty of high quality riffage and some incredible moments. ‘Decay’ is the perfect antidote to all those lovelorn and emotional heartache paens through its lyrics detailing the in-the-gutter misery of damaged relationships. ‘Look at the shit we’re in/please just forget everything’. I can forget all that sappy pop-rock nonsense when Unsane are in this miserable form. And they don’t relent there – they continue to bludgeon with riff after sledgehammer riff with the consistency of Team GB’s all-conquering triathletes the Brownlee brothers. The only slightly mellow moment comes for the main riff to ‘Stuck’, which broods before naturally volumising when it hits the chorus. My only minor quibble is with a cover of Flipper’s ‘Ha Ha Ha’, which Unsane do a good job of making it sounds as psychotic as it’s title suggests, but it doesn’t feel in sync with the rest of the album.
 
Nonetheless, ‘Wreck’ ensures a happy approach to Unsane’s 25th year as a band, and right now they seem to be as strong as they’ve ever been. They don’t muck about with the formula, they just harness it time and time again into a visceral attack. Life isn’t all cupcakes and roses. Unsane give us the grit and apply the burn over and over.

Peter Clegg

Unsane – Decay

Buy ‘Wreck’ here

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Joe 4 – Enola Gay EP

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Joe 4
Enola Gay EP
Whosbrain

I was recently pointed in the direction of (by kind request) Croatian rockers Joe 4’s ‘Enola Gay’ EP, a 10”, five-track slice of not wholly original, but certainly high quality rock in the vein of 90’s alt-rock forefathers The Jesus Lizard, Shellac, et al. Each of the five songs is a series of riffs that are a little disjointed, but work the entire time, capturing that sound perfected by their main influences. They can rise out of any perceived lull with a build up of volume and drive, each riff meaning business, and to say I was heartened by this trio’s output on this release isn’t too much of an understatement.

I can’t think of too many bands to have made a name for themselves internationally coming out of Croatia, but I wouldn’t be too saddened at all if Joe 4 found some success on a wider scale. Noise rock is on the rise again, with old stalwarts like Unsane still making a racket and newer types like KEN Mode, The United Sons of Toil and slightly partier types like Dope Body all making a name for themselves. Joe 4 aren’t like any of those bands specifically, and they’re certainly not as harsh as the Canadian trio, owing much more to the classic alt-rock template (particularly Jesus Lizard) as previously mentioned. A little more individuality wouldn’t go amiss, but this is an excellent starter. 

Enola Gay’ is available through Joe 4’s Bandcamp page as a name-your-price download with physical options also available. You can also stream this bad boy below if you’re still undecided. Crackin’.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Enola Gay’ here (name-your-price)
Stream it below:

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