Dope Body

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Twenty Pound Brick (2009), 5/10
Nupping (2011), 7/10
Natural History (2012), 6/10
Lifer (2014), 5/10
Kunk (2015), 4.5/10
Home Body (2020), 4.5/10
Crack A Light (2020), 4.5/10

Baltimore's punk quartet Dope Body, formed by vocalist Andrew Laumann, guitarist Zachary Utz and drummer David Jacober, were first documented on the cassette Twenty Pound Brick (2009), which, despite the lo-fi quality of the recording, boasts epileptic fits like Division and Youth Relic. They reinvented garage-rock and noise-rock on Nupping (Hoss, 2011), sounding like spastic Led Zeppelin in Enemy Outta Me, coining a genial kind of industrial rap-blues with Loner Stoner, penning a damaged version of the seismic funk-punk of Rage Against The Machine in Bangers & Yos, and indulging in the deranged gallop of The Shape Of Grunge To Come, somewhere between Captain Beefheart and Thirteenth Floor Elevators (ditto, to some extent, City Limits). The album ends with the visceral psychedelic tornado of Force Field that sums it up. David Jacober's drumming is their secret weapon.

Natural History (Drag City, 2012), with new bassist John "Nerftoss" Jones, is generally less feral and less creative, but better played and produced. They can therefore attempt more sophisticated songs like the slow, tortured, psychedelic melodrama Shook and the crackling blues-punk Out Of Mind. The fractured Road Dog sails somewhere between glam-rock and funk-punk. The heavily sincopated Beat takes inspiration from rap-metal, Weird Mirror from the new wave and metal-era Ramones, perhaps their stab at punk-pop stardom.

Lifer (2014) opens with their signature power-ballad, Repo Man, followed by the Rolling Stones-ian Hired Gun, but the rest is a rather confused sequence of hard and soft moments, with the hard moments hardly matching past barrages (AOL, the Led Zeppelin-ian Day by Day, the metal-esque Toy) and the soft moments indulging in puzzling half-hearted attempts at the blues ballad (Rare Air, Even In The End).

They disbanded after the absent-minded songs of the mixtape Kunk (2015), songs that occasionally evoke past noise-rock grandeur (Old Grey, Goon Line) but mostly feel like unfinished leftovers.

Home Body (2020) was recorded at homes (plural) separately by the members of the band during the covid lockdown of 2020, and feels like another mixtape of tentative and unfinished material.

Crack A Light (2020), their first proper album in five years, was recorded by a power-trio and contained more streamlined songs than before like Jer Bang plus the odd six-minute stylistic collage of Mutant Being.

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