Dope Body - Lifer“Lifer” is the second album by Baltimore’s Dope Body on the deeply interesting and culturally significant Drag City label.

If you’re familiar with Drag City you’ll know they’re home to a lot of cool bands, notably in the 90’s (and for the purposes of this review) bands like Royal Trux and Make Up. It’s a smart signifier if you’re hip to the lineage of artists Dope Body are part of. There’s a giant seam of swampy, rock n’roll under the hardcore screams and sludgy bottom end of their sound that recalls everyone from The Cramps to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

“Lifer” begins with ‘Intro’, a rollicking, raucous drum roll joined by big trebly guitar riffs and feedback, which despite its filthy alt-rock credentials has the whiff of tinselled curtains and the bump of burlesque about it.

‘Hired Gun’ sounds like Fugazi on the choruses and The New York Dolls on the verses, and is a prime example of the band’s fine amalgamation of swinging and snarling sounds. ‘Echo’ is crawling Cramps-y blues that turns ugly and flares up into brutal Black Flag-esque despair on the chorus; the team-ups seem endlessly smart and surprising.

There’s a lot of classy, refined post-punk metropolitan soul nestled between the sludge too, the danceable ‘Rare Air’ and the multi-textured ‘Even In The End’ being closer to a stroppy Television than anything else. At the other end of the spectrum sludge-core fans can feast on ‘Day by Day’ and ‘Toy’ where the racket-o-meter reaches Pissed Jeans levels. Sweet.

‘Nu Sensation’ recalls the twin bass death punk attack of Girls Against Boys and rolls so deep it makes your beer gut quake. And just when you think it can’t get any better ‘I’d Say To You’ slicks it’s hair back and throws you into the pit at a Rocket From The Crypt gig – righteous!

There are so many fine sounds here, and despite its hip, alt-rock credentials “Lifer” is a guitar junkie album at heart, a celebration of the power of American punk rock six stringer styles. Rock n’roll is indeed a life sentence and I’m ready to do the time.

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