This record is way too long. Nah, with 16 songs in 17 minutes, it’s shorter than a heart attack. And, hopefully, that will be my only elderstateman reference in here. For those living under a rock since 2010, Off! is a new Keith Morris (Circle Jerks, Black Flag) fronted hardcore band where he is joined by Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), Steven Shane MacDonald (Redd Kross), and Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes, Rocket from the Crypt). The band pulls from Morris' first bands, with a classic Decline of Western Civilization era sound. Short, loud, fast, and seemingly named after an insect repellent.
I might be one of the few in the world who didn’t rush out and during the hype parade that surrounded The First Four EPs. But, here the band is back for more with their self-titled full-length, proving that the offshoot from an aborted Circle Jerks studio session is more than, well, an aborted Circle Jerks studio session. And that’s where I’ll end that discussion, as Off! shares very little with latter day Circle Jerks (but quite a bit with the band’s early days.)
This record is a rager, with early ‘80s LA hardcore as the foundation and a relentless energy packing it in. It mixes a bit of that early period destructive tone with slightly more seasoned lyrics that revolve around many of the same themes. For an example, look no further than “I Got News for You” with all its criticisms of “the scene” or "Cracked” with its line referencing the “hardcore karaoke retirement home,” clocking in at 0:52. Actually, only 7 out of the 16 songs here top one minute, yet they all sound fully realized and developed. The band isn’t wasting time with clever bridges, solos, or mixing up their tempos. They’re jumping straight into the pit and not stopping for a breather.
And speaking of breathers, perhaps the only real separation from Off! and earlier Circle Jerks material would be in some of Morris’ vocals. While he does a great, angry shout, it does occasionally sound like he’s needs to stop and take a breath before the next verse kicks up. Some might call that a sign of age. I call it a sign of high energy hardcore that doesn't let up.
The record is evenkeelangry throughout, without many high or lows, just steady aggression and vitriol. As such, highlights and low points don’t stand out as much as the album runs together as one solid piece. Recommended, especially for fans of "Black Coffee" and "Nervous Breakdown" style hardcore. That, and because "King Kong Brigade" features these lyrics: "I wanna club you/ like a baby seal/ staple your scalp/ to my steering wheel."
8.7 / 10
Posted Aug. 9, 2019, 11:25 a.m.
The Muddy Roots Music Festival will take place August 30-September 1 this year in Cookebille, TN, with a diverse lineup of more than 70 bands. Notable headliners include a revised ...
Posted Nov. 22, 2014, 9:04 a.m.
Keith Morris of Off! (formerly of Black Flack and Circle Jerks) is working on an autobiography to be released in the fall of 2016. The book, written with Jim Ruland ...
Posted May 8, 2014, 5:56 p.m.
The July 5-6 Burger Records extravanganza has added more bands, including Off!, The Gizmos, Thee Oh Sees, Personal & the Pizzas, and more in addition to the previously released line-up. Check ...
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