review by Jacob Ray
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Dope Body is a noise rock band who are about to release their second full length album, Natural History on Drag City Records on May 22nd. Starting out as a band that was never supposed to play more than one show (fun fact, the album is named after the place where that one show happened, The Museum of Natural History), Dope Body have gained quite a following in their local Baltimore rock scene. Following a spot at this year’s annual South By Southwest festival in Austin, the highly anticipated release of Natural History is hopefully going to guarantee that these four dudes from Baltimore make an impact on the national rock scene this year.
Twice The Life
Out Of My Mind
Alpha Punk (Bonus)
I’m going to start off by saying that I have never heard anything like Dope Body’s sophomore full length Natural History. “Noise rock” describes it perfectly. From the moment I pushed play until the end, there were many times where I had no idea what the fuck I was hearing. There were points where I wondered if they just played random notes with no writing or practicing in advance and then recorded it. In some cases this effect worked and I really enjoyed it, other times not so much.
The first song was not a song that I enjoyed at all. I feel like maybe I could have appreciated “Shook” more if I was on acid or something. It had a lot of screechy and annoying guitar parts and was too sludgy for my liking.
On the other hand, “Road Dog” kicks ass. It has this old school punk feel (Modern Lovers and the Stooges specifically) that I really dig and the screechy guitars actually work in this song. It’s a little more upbeat and just straight up rocks, in the most basic sense of the word. It gave me a lot of hope that the first song was going to be the only one that I disliked and that the rest of the album was going to be as good as “Road Dog.”
The next song smashed those hopes into a million pieces. “Beat” uses the same really heavy, repetitive riff over and over again and I could not wait for the song to be over. It’s just a little bit obnoxious. It is becoming to clear to me that I will either really love or really hate every song on Natural History. I really like upbeat rock Dope Body, but not sludgy repetitive Dope Body.
Proving my last point even more is how great the song “Twice the Life” is. First of all, I love the lyrics. The heavy parts in “Beat” that didn’t work, work really well in “Twice the Life”, because they don’t dominate the song. There is a good mix of guitar solos, cool riffs, and heavy parts in this song that keep Dope Body’s sound from getting stale.
I like a couple of other songs on the record as well, however, most of them have certain things about them that bug me, however, I still consider them listenable. “Powder” is just kind of there. I like the metal-ish guitar but the rest of it is kind of unremarkable in my mind. I like “Out Of My Mind”, except for the really annoying cricket sound that is constant throughout the song. Like I said, it’s something little that just bugs the shit out of me. The rest of the song is pretty cool. The screaming cricket is back on “High Way” which other than that, I like it. The vocals during the chorus remind me of radio metal like Godsmack or Drowning Pool, but in a good, less corny way. “Weird Mirror” is a another hard rock song that I really like, except for the obnoxious intro. “Lazy Slave” might be the worst song on the album. It’s really primal sounding, but so was the really shitty garage band that I played in when I was in 8th grade. The word “primal” doesn’t necessarily mean “good” and this song is proof of that. “Alpha Punk” is a 58 second punk song about elitists in the punk music scene. Just like “Road Dog” it has that old school punk sound, which I really dig and I wish that Dope Body did more songs like this on Natural History.
If nothing else, Dope Body does something different on Natural History, and I can respect that. Some of the different things that they tried worked really well, and others did not. Maybe I am just not artsy enough to appreciate entire songs of spastic chords and incoherent screaming. What I can appreciate are good, heavy rock songs, and there are plenty of those on Natural History, enough to make up for the songs that aren’t so good. I will probably listen to several of the songs off of this album pretty frequently for a long time. On the other hand, I hope that songs like “Shook” and “Lazy Slave” never violate my eardrums ever again. If you want to listen to something pretty off the wall, definitely go pick up Natural History, if it is anything, it is unique.
DOPE BODY TOUR DATES:
Saturday, May 19 – Baltimore, MD @ Coward Shoe (RECORD RELEASE PARTY!)
Thursday, June 14 – Brooklyn, NY @ Public Assembly (NORTHSIDE FESTIVAL)
Friday, June 15 – New York, NY @ Cake Shop
Friday, June 22 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Tuesday, Sept. 7 – Raleigh, NC @ Hopscotch Festival