Dope Body: Natural History

Dope Body’s Drag City debut, Natural History, was released earlier this week. It kills. You’ll read (I hope) in my July, August, and September “Entry Level” columns that I use the album to evaluate the rocking capabilities of the PSB Alpha B1, Polk RTi A3, Definitive Audio SM 45, and Tannoy Mercury V1 loudspeakers—all worthwhile choices.

But back to the awesome music: I’ve grown tired of guitars, but Dope Body is the rare modern guitar-driven rock band that gets me truly excited. These guys aren’t screwing around. They’re not trying to be clever or cute. They’re just rocking the hell out—sweating, pounding, bleeding, starting riots in stinking little basements like good bands should. (A note to other bands: Stop wasting your time being silly. Just rock.) With the first moments of the album’s opener, “Shook,” my mind turns to early 1990’s Melvins and Nirvana—slow, heavy, thunderous beats matched by deluges of guitar and urgent, almost delirious vocals.

But what makes Dope Body so compelling is that their raw power is complemented with intelligent arrangements, tasteful use of effects, a broad range of inspiration. In “Road Dog,” my preferred demo track, I hear not only the power of the Melvins and Nirvana, but also the joyful touch of Television, the pure angst and fury of Fugazi, the melodic twists of the Clash. Honestly, Dope Body remind me most of the Multi-Purpose Solution; and despite the obvious bias and even arrogance of that statement—after all, I am in the Multi-Purpose Solution—it’s the greatest compliment I can give any rock band. While it seems almost unfair or lazy to make such comparisons, I can’t help it: Dope Body’s influences leap from my speakers like the music itself, but it’s the unique combination of those varied elements that keeps Dope Body from sounding at all derivative or otherwise easily defined.

And more: The album sounds surprisingly good. There are real dynamic contrasts, ample light and shade, sweet subtlety matched by blinding fire, a wealth of glorious space. Who the hell recorded this? Natural History was recorded and mixed by J. Robbins at his Magpie Cage Studio in Dope Body’s hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.

The album is available from Drag City. You can listen to the whole thing right now over at Spin. The band has a few live dates scheduled between now and autumn, and I bet they’ll be a whole lot of sweaty, scary fun:

Thursday, June 14: Public Assembly, Brooklyn, NY (Northside Festival)
Friday, June 15: Cake Shop, New York, NY
Wednesday, June 20: Garfield Artworks, Pittsburgh, PA
Thursday, June 21: Double Happiness, Columbus, OH
Friday, June 22: Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL
Sunday, June 24: Happy Dog, Cleveland, OH
Friday, September 7: Hopscotch Festival, Raleigh, NC

Photo: Angel Ceballos

Ariel Bitran's picture

 the before and after band pics. cool idea.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Tells you a lot about their live show.

deckeda's picture

I'm digging this for all the reasons you mentioned. Even on the lossy stream, the production's sonic attributes are quite evident. I wish all rock music was recorded and presented this well today.