Show Me The Body
Dog Whistle


4.5
superb

Review

by hung0ver USER (18 Reviews)
October 31st, 2019 | 25 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This banjo kills fascists.

Show Me The Body exist in something of their own musical bubble. Too violent to really be considered post punk, too warped and strange to be a hardcore band, and replacing the role of a lead guitar with a banjo, they've carved out their own niche as a boundary pushing, if not somewhat inconsistent, firebrand of New York's underground punk scene. There's a lot of noise rock and hip-hop in their sound too, drawing some inevitable comparisons to industrial hip-hop titans Death Grips. Their back catalogue is not without flaws, but the band have always shown genuine promise; Body War's expansive scope was undermined a little by a slight lack of tonal consistency and inability to maintain momentum for its full runtime, and Corpus 1's impressive feature list, packing rising stars such as Denzel Curry and Princess Nokia, also felt a little long-winded to be considered the finished article. Dog Whistle is different.

A record opening with a track like 'Camp Orchestra' is making a statement from the off. The invocation of Auschwitz's infamous 'Work will set you free' slogan sets the tone for an album unabashedly political and apologetically brutal. Between the eastern European aesthetics of the track's winding intro ostinato, and the meatheaded, bruising bass riff that replaces it beyond the two minute mark, the track is one of the most vital and punishing punk songs of the year. Julian Cashwan Pratt's banjo is more akin to a buzzsaw than an instrument usually associated with country and folk, and his vocals before the closing breakdown are raw in just the right way.

Whilst the album retains the dynamic variety of previous efforts, the heavier reliance on sludgier, more hardcore-tinged musical themes does the record a huge favour. The throbbing, brooding energy of the subsequent tracks, 'Not for Love' and 'Badge Grabber' lean away from the straightforward punk of the opener, utilising chunky synthesised beats in their respective verses, but maintain the aesthetics of punk and hardcore so as not to be too much of a tone shift. It's this ability to maintain tonal consistency and an aesthetic coherence that are perhaps this record's strongest suit; a masterclass in experimentation and variety within a tightly focused sonic blueprint. The use of a banjo across the record in the place of a guitar also produces some really interesting variances from a traditional punk sound, rather than just being a gimmicky USP. It's more jangly and rattly in tone than a guitar when soaked in distortion, and really contrasts well with Pratt's harsh shouted vocals, and the dense bass lines dotted across the track listing on songs like the opener and 'Drought'. The use of the banjo to produce ominously delicate clean lines like those on 'Arcanum' adds another weapon to Show Me The Body's unique sonic watermark, and makes for a musical palate that makes far more sense than it really should on paper.

The band's ability to maintain tension and deliver a strong payoff is also really quite impressive. 'Now I Know' and 'Drought' feel gargantuan when their intros kick into gear and up the ante, whilst the breakdown on 'Forks and Knives' is more Code Orange than anything else. Similarly, 'Arcanum' bends the ideas of 'Camp Orchestra's opening passage into the spine of a song, creating an eerily fragile contrast to the industrial sludge of the bass on the track, maintaining tension to the very last. It goes without saying that the lyrical discussions of violence, degradation, fascism and police brutality are entirely consistent with this musical motif of tension and darkness found throughout the album. Sure, it's hardly an optimistic ditty to slap a beaming smile on your face, but the coherence of Show Me The Body's creative vision on Dog Whistle is incredibly satisfying, if not very, very bleak.

Whilst there's a huge amount to praise here, there are some weaker moments. Whilst neither 'Madonna Rocket', nor 'USA Lullaby' are weak tracks outright, the mix feels a bit thin on the ground, the tension doesn't quite pay off in the same way as the rest of the record primes you to expect, and whilst they're arguably the catchiest moments on the album, Dog Whistle's merit lies more in bleak murkiness than being a collection of earworms. The interlude tracks are also moments of inconsistency. 'Animal in a Dream's musings on structural violence, and the idea that "Every institution has a hand in the business of death and eclipse" is a concept rarely broached by any kind of band, punk or not, and is starkly poetic. But, without trying to sound too pretentious, 'Die for the Earth to Live' lacks the same conceptual scale in its lyrics, and the payoff of the closing track means that the interruption to the album's flow created by the interlude feels a little less justified.

In reality, these criticisms are just nitpicks, but when the rest of the record is as strong it is, it's a shame that these slight imperfections persisted on what is such an otherwise consistent and potent collection of tracks. Show Me The Body cover so much ground here, with an overall vision so tight that it's hard to think of another 2019 album that packs so much of a punch, with such energy and so many fresh ideas.

What's startling about Dog Whistle though, isn't the degree to which it surpasses the band's previous outings, or the way it near-seamlessly flows from track to track, but the way encapsulates perfectly the bleak, violent and unwelcoming age that we've found ourselves living in. Dark and uncompromising, it's the punk album that 2019 deserves, even if perhaps it's not the one we want to see ourselves reflected in.



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user ratings (112)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
ParanoidAndroid96
October 31st 2019


1393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

camp orchestra soty

TheBarber
October 31st 2019


4130 Comments


finally a review for this !

edit : and a neat one too. Just a tad long though with the 4th paragraph that could possibly be condensed and sliced into the rest. Have a pos nevertheless.

Easily one of the best punk recs from this year

Ashtiel
October 31st 2019


1470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's about fuckin' time this got a review. bless.

SlothcoreSam
December 1st 2019


6224 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

camp orchestra is a great intro track

SlothcoreSam
December 25th 2019


6224 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fuck'n loving Drought, so much right now!

quetzal
February 6th 2020


995 Comments


Top 5 of 2019, not entirely sure where I'd slot it.

Anthemic
February 20th 2020


353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hey can anyone vouch for these guys' live shows? Considering buying a ticket to see them with Code Orange and Wolf Girl.

ParanoidAndroid96
March 19th 2020


1393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

smtb kicks ass live, some of my favorite shows that I've ever been to tbh. they postponed that tour bc the virus, but I plan on catching them when they reschedule

dedex
Staff Reviewer
June 8th 2020


12788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

Just listened to "Camp Orchestra", great stuff. Should prob give the album a listen

Senetrix666
February 24th 2021


1587 Comments


new single kinda slaps

SlothcoreSam
March 19th 2021


6224 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

New EP is fantastic.

kevbogz
July 12th 2022


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

new single berry good

pjquinones747
July 20th 2022


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finally seeing these guys live tonight. Super stoked because I hear that they're nuts live.

kevbogz
July 21st 2022


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hell ya seein em at sound and fury next weekend. lemme know how it is

pjquinones747
July 21st 2022


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

absolutely NUTS. the singer julian is a total crazy person on stage. you'll enjoy yourself i am sure.

cold
August 3rd 2022


6723 Comments


bumpppppppppppppp

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2022


32053 Comments


Don't take a selfie on stage

cold
August 3rd 2022


6723 Comments


anyone who does that dumb shit needs more than a push off of the stage.

Ashtiel
September 14th 2022


1470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

new album 10/28

https://showmethebody.bandcamp.com/album/trouble-the-water

cold
September 14th 2022


6723 Comments


fuk yea



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