Wednesday, April 3, 2024

The Dog's Body & the sweaty chuggy "Cookeville sound"


Y'all, this new The Dog’s Body album is everything. 

And today, “everything” means Cookeville post-hardcore post-Americana post-whatever-you-think-genre-is in this post-genre mosh-pit. I could call it punk or post-punk, but what we know is that it is very real, very hooky, very hard, very honest, and very local.

When I say this is local, that is not to say it is provincial or prude or should not blow up literally everywhere. This is local as in regionally rooted so deep, so strong insofar that front-person and writer Blake Marlow (formerly of Commander Keen) has mud all over his toes. This is local as in the cassette case has an ironic (or not ironic, you decide) image of the massive metal cross that presides over our entire conservative college town.

This is local as in lyrically-anchored in Tennessee dirt with sweaty swirls of God, Satan, the SEC, ghosts, sinkholes, natural disasters, DUIs, cigarettes, outlaws, cops, booze, meat, & good ol' Rocky Top, all here to rock yer homegrown Appalachian gothic bones. Being a band from Cookeville is its own thing, that we cannot compare to all you Nashville, Knoxville, Asheville types. Going back to epic gloomy Hellbender or math-psych Glomus or Poet’s during its punk period or to Blake’s brief venue Gnarlington Cemetery, we might even say there is a Cookeville “sound,” and that sound is chuggy, soggy, and nasty; that is, this record is as muddy as our hiking trails after an April downpour.

Title track “Salt Pile” sets the tone with the big metaphors, images of hot fires and the cold earth, searing symbols that will carry this tight and tenacious set. “Deep and Wide” wrestles with God, at first the obvious, if domesticated God, that we learned about in church, and then, the wild God that floods our riverbeds. The song also references the man-made God of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the dams and floods and reservoirs that created underwater ghost towns. 

“Power Lines” is a haunted-house hymn, praying to get back from the east coast or west coast before we die, because we need our “body back home in Tennessee.” “Killing a Sacred Hog” runs the roads full throttle but after all the horror-flick holy flames returns to its pastoral homeplace, at times problematic as that place might be. As earthy as all these light vs. dark gothic shades might be, they shimmer inside a wall of sound that actually achieves lift-off with every song, because the guitars, bass, and drums are unrelentingly euphoric throughout. 

I don’t want to say that “Tune Up Game” is about Blake Marlow’s alma-mater and former employer, for full disclosure’s sake my current employer, the college of the aforementioned college town. But the opening stanza does refer to a “sacrifice” game where an OVC team gets demolished by an SEC team for a mere paycheck. The song goes on to conflate God and the devil, Tennessee and the USA. This is one I don’t want to show my own local students to analyze and my hyperbole would only ruin what’s beneath my interpretation, a ridiculously addictive rock song to which we should all scream along.  

The relentless combinations of joy and insanity are packed into a mere seven tracks that are over too soon but leave plenty of time to listen again. And again. And again.

The Dog’s Body are:
Blake Marlow - Guitar/Vox
Aaron Phillips - Lead Guitar
Tommy Judd - Bass
Zach Ramsey - Drums

Salt Pile by The Dog’s Body is out everywhere on 4/5/2024, with a local release party in a DIY venue that night, as it should be. 

You can check out a video for "Tune Up Game" here:

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