Show Me The Body (SMTB) is a hardcore trio that was formed in New York City circa 2009. The collision of noise, sludge metal, hip hop, electronic manipulation, and occasional banjo all come together to form a wild, guerilla-style band, which is only further reflected in their live performances. The members, Julian Cashwan Pratt (lead vocals and banjo), Harlan Steed (bass), and Noah Cohen-Corbett (drums) have slowly worked their way up to the group they are today.
Both listening to SMTB doesn’t do them enough justice, especially when compared to their live shows. If you have yet to go to a hardcore show, especially in a small DIY venue, it’s probably best not to start with SMTB. Within seconds, the venue turns into a guerilla-style battleground. Not only loud and intense, Cashwan Pratt throws himself into the mess of the crowd, while Steed and Cohen-Corbett stay on stage, and will push you off, or punch you, if you encroach on their ground. As an incredibly disruptive, non-traditional group, they defiantly leave a lasting mark on you after the show, but for fans of the hardcore genre, this is a must-see group.
Currently signed to Loma Vista Records, the groups fourth album, Trouble The Water, was released on October 28, and follows a similar sound to their prior albums. The entire album, at twelve tracks long, only has a 38-minute runtime, which is their second longest album next to Corpus I.
Loose Talk, the first song, was previously released as a single, but is an incredible opener for the entirety of the album to follow. It’s a soft introduction to what is to follow, but still speaks on violence, and noting that sometimes the people who bark the loudest are just a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Speaking on people in positions of power, “Humidity makes the police stupid/ and they’ll kill some if they can” builds on the biggest driver in punk music, politics, and current social issues.
Social issues and violence follow the whole album, but quickly takes on their louder, angrier tone with Food From Plate. Here, the bass is a frontrunner, and builds on the sludgy influence they are so-well known for. “I like the city when it’s empty/ stupid fuck don’t know what to do” is just another jab at the police.
Radiator takes a sharp left turn with electronic manipulation, but rounding out the instrument highlight, the drums get their time to shine here. Here Cashwan Pratt speaks about the border wall, and how past actions follow you, despite trying to get them to go away. The electronics in this song genuinely make you feel like you’re in a microwave, which is something I can’t say I have experienced in a song before, but it does give you a funny feeling.
Back to the regularly scheduled punk programming, We Came To Play is reminiscent of what a purge of police would feel like, and echoes the fact that they came to play, because you should “Never let them forget that this is your town”, and “They don’t belong here”. The police should come out and play because they don’t want them around anymore. An incredible song that feels like a call-to-action is not rare in their discography, but this one does bark louder than the rest.
One of my favorites here, War Not Beef, not only has an amazing title, but continues to build on using violence against the police, who don’t shy away using violence on citizens. SMTB might as well use their own hands and stop arguing, and just declare war. The instruments here are simple but effective, as its loud, angry, and follows the vocals with their intensity. I think the song gets better as it goes on, but the lines “My bad if I’m filled with hate / It’s you who put us in this place / Mirror, mirror, who’s the one to blame? / Fuck that, I’ll take what’s mine” is strong, and something that gets stuck in your head easily.
Now, Out Of Place is very out of place. The whole song feels misplaced, as it doesn’t sound much like SMTB at all. I’m all for artists trying something new, but I do think you need to commit to the act to get this to come across in a way that can be received better. As the 6th song, using it as intermission as a break between songs is genius, but it’s not a song that deserves being listened to outside of the album as a breather. I would be happy to hear an album that does slow down more, but that is highly unlikely knowing their character. Honestly, this is the only song on the album I can say I hate, but that’s purely because it’s just out of place! I would have been happy with this song being removed all together.
Back to something that sounds like SMTB, Boils Up uses the same electronic manipulation from Radiator, but sounds more alien like instead of having your head stuck in a microwave. There’s little to say about this track lyric wise, as its confusing in a lot of ways, but loosely ties itself back into the police brutality topic at hand. The only tangible thing I was able to dig out of this song, was Cashwan Pratt talking about going bald. Not mad about this song in anyway, these guys have a lot of weird songs, but this being nothing like Out Of Place makes me happy.
Buck 50 relies heavily on some hip hop influence, but even though it lacks some of the heaviness and screaming in the first five tracks, it’s still a good song. Fans of SMTB might be able to connect the lyrics at the beginning of this song: “Bugs always eat at my home / I get done with these slugs and they come for my dome”, which is reminiscent of their song Vernon, which was released in 2015.
If you were itching for something that you could dance and groove to, Demeanor is the track for you. It does (finally) go back to some heavier stuff, but the beginning of this song up to the chorus is simply electronic and has a great beat that makes you want to get up and jive a little bit, followed quickly by the need to hear this whilst moshing.
Using It is similar fashion to Demeanor, as it’s something definitely worth dancing to. I think this is one of the standouts on this album, not only for the instrument use, but the chorus is an earworm. The rhyming in the chorus, and the lyrics that repeat themselves multiple times make this a hardcore song using pop song formatting. It’s easy to listen to this song on repeat and not get tired of it, just because of how intoxicating it sounds as all the individual elements come together.
If you’re unfamiliar with SMTB, they do this beautiful fake out in a lot of their songs, where you think it will go one way, but it switches up and takes you in a completely different direction out of nowhere. For the entire first 2:30 of Using It, you think this will be a slow song with Cashwan Pratt and his banjo, but as soon as it hits 2:31, the bass comes in, and the entire song becomes something new. Again, this isn’t uncommon in their discography, but you never really know when its coming.
The title track rounds off the album with some crazy bass work by Steed. This brings back some of the more traditional punk elements that were missing in some of the tracks in the second half of the album, Trouble The Water brings it back with a vengeance. This isn’t my favorite vocal work on the album, but Steed and Cohen-Corbett carry this track with the bass and drums alone. Despite not loving the vocal work, the refrain going into the chorus is strong and hits hard with “Trouble your friends, turn water to blood”.
As much as this album produced some great tracks, I would be lying if I said this was my favorite work of theirs, especially in comparison to their previous albums, most notable being Dog Whistle in 2019. Trouble The Water takes a different narrative and topic of discussion throughout the album, especially in the first half. The first five songs were some of the strongest, followed by tracks 9, 10, and 12. Great album nonetheless, and defiantly something I had been looking forward to since they announced the release date about a month prior to the actual release. Out of all the albums that have been released this year, I’d have to put this in my top 10 favorites, but I wouldn’t consider putting it in my top 5.
Despite only making music since 2015, they’ve had a wonderful showing so far. Take some time out of your day and listen to Trouble The Water from Show Me The Body, and I highly recommend checking out Dog Whistle, Corpus I, and Body War, their previous albums. Each album comes with a uniqueness behind it, which makes each different, but special in their own right.
Listen to Trouble The Water on Spotify!