Album Of The Week

Album Of The Week: Show Me The Body Trouble The Water

Loma Vista
Loma Vista

The best way to experience Show Me The Body is, of course, live. Like most hardcore bands, they thrive when people can physically come together to collectively let out their anxieties and aggressions. The trio has made a habit of performing their explosive sets around their native New York City in unconventional venues: under bridges, in community centers and friends’ apartments, in dance studios and nearly-abandoned buildings. It’s what punks have done since the beginning of time, and will continue to find ways to do, but it is certainly hard to do so nowadays in New York, where it has become prohibitively expensive to do much of anything. Show Me The Body have made it their mission to squeeze into any place they can and take up as much space as possible, pushing back against a rapidly unrecognizable city.

Julian Cashwan Pratt and Harlan Steed — who started making music together as teens after meeting at a private high school in Manhattan — have become documentarians of New York City’s latest transformation, a reflection of the city becoming a playground for the rich and privileged. Through their songs, they have spent the last decade lamenting what has become of their hometown and celebrating the resilience of its longtime residents. New York has churned through artists and collectives for decades — it’s a place of constant change, and there will always be someone willing to take someone else’s place — but it has become increasingly untenable to hold onto and respect its long and storied history. Or as Pratt growls on a song from the band’s new album: “They take more than property, Bowery ain’t just some fucking street/ Won’t sit around, wait and see, what they leave for you and me.”

Trouble The Water is the best that Show Me The Body have sounded on record since their forceful 2016 debut Body War. They predate hardcore’s current fashionable explosion, and they have continued to develop their sound, a blend of scrappy punk and dirt-blasted electronics that adopts the cadence of hip-hop and incorporates a whole lot of banjo. Over the course of the pandemic, they built out their CORPUS studios in Queens and replaced drummer Noah Cohen-Corbett with Jackie McDermott of the undersung Sediment Club. They teamed up with Arthur Rizk, who made a name for himself producing for Power Trip and Code Orange and has worked with a ton of exciting up-and-coming bands that blur the lines between heavy music of all stripes. The result is invigorating and intimidating, an album that crackles with the tension of a city where money and power collide with people just trying to get by.

Pratt’s lyrics, which are delivered as a near-constant drawling screed, threaten violence around the corner of every gleaming skyscraper. “I like the city when it’s empty/ Stupid fuck don’t know what to do,” he yells on “Food From Plate.” “They’re trying to take it away/ They’re trying to save their face/ Fuck that, we’re trying to take it away.” The punks of New York are presented as an insurgent force, constantly “fucking, fighting, dancing together” as Pratt says on “Demeanor.” “They hate it when we show up, we come around/ They don’t wanna see us come up, they shuffle around” goes the hook on “We Came To Play”: “Never let them forget that this is your town.” Some of these rallying cries can verge on parodic, but the song’s arrangements sell the message behind them — these songs are sweaty and oppressive, clouds of billowing chaos that manage to overwhelm the senses.

Most effective are the tracks where it sounds like the band is living through a nightmare. “Boils Up” stumbles along on whirring, teeth-chattering beat. “Buck 50” opens on a nauseating lurch that doesn’t let up and is front-loaded with squicky imagery like: “Bugs always eat at my home/ I get done with these slugs and they come for my dome.” And then there’s “Radiator,” a spiking heater that ends on a furious drumming assist from Living Colour’s Will Calhoun on timbale as Pratt barks about how his deepest fears manifest: “Things I’ve done follow me/ Stay stuck in my teeth/ It smells when I’m talking.”

Show Me The Body songs are visceral, both in content and execution, and that’s no more evident than on “WW4,” Trouble The Water’s penultimate track that shouldn’t work on paper but absolutely does. It starts with two minutes of Pratt mumbling over his trusted banjo, talk-singing about how hard it is to stay alive in America these days, before exploding into a mangled, mic-swallowing chorus: “Don’t care how they’re spinning it/ World War 4 outside they giving it.” Corny? Maybe a little. But also impossibly effective, an alchemical combination of potent, apocalyptic sounds.

Trouble The Water is out 10/28 via Loma Vista Recordings.

Other albums of note out this week:
• King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s Changes
• Guided By Voices’ Scalping The Guru
• Nosaj Thing’s Continua
• Darkthrone’s Astral Fortress
• Junior Boys’ Waiting Game
• Dear Nora’s human futures
• Martha’s Please Don’t Take Me Back
• Hammered Hulls’ Careening
• Fred Again..’s Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022)
• Abraxas’ Monte Carlo
• Smino’s Luv 4 Rent
• Drugdealer’s Hiding In Plain Sight
• Luke Haines & Peter Buck’s All The Kids Are Super Bummed Out
• DRAM’s What Had Happened Was
• Babehoven’s Light Moving Time
• Sobs’ Air Guitar
• NANCY’s English Leather
• Fauness’ The Golden Ass
• Cakes Da Killa’s Svengali
• Arm’s Length’s Never Before Seen, Never Again Found
• Babyface’s Girls’ Night Out
• Dead Cross’ II
• Scout Gillett’s no roof no floor
• Fantasy Camp’s Casual Intimacy
• Benjamin Clementine’s And I Have Been
• Dragonette’s Twennies
• Dorian Concept’s What We Do For Others
• Blessed’s Circuitous
• I Was A King’s Follow Me Home
• Deadbody’s The Requiem
• Yung Gravy’s Marvelous
• Babytron’s Bin Reaper 3
• Black Sabbath Cover Band Rehearsal’s BSCBR: Master Of Rehearsal Vol 2
• The Beatles’ Revolver special edition
• Sigur Rós’ ( ) (Expanded Reissue)
• Louis Armstrong’s Louis Wishes You A Cool Yul
• Neil Diamond’s A Neil Diamond Christmas
• Ólafur Arnalds’ some kind of peace — piano reworks
DJ-Kicks: Theo Parrish
• Wand’s Spiders In The Rain live album
• Worm’s Bluenothing mini-album
• Tigers Jaw’s Old Clothes EP
• Mdou Moctar’s Niger Vol. 2 EP
• Gay Meat’s Bed Of Every EP
• Holly Humberstone’s Can You Afford To Lose Me? EP
• Superorganism’s World Wide Pop – Reeeemix! EP
• Working Men’s Club’s Steel City remix EP

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