OFF! records don’t just play in your iTunes or spin on your turntable. They spasmodically jump out of the speakers and shove you into the circle pit that is their sub two-minute, often sub one-minute songs. With only four EP’s and two other seven inches under their belt, this full length is proof that these guys can churn out solid material with only the necessary bits intact and still fill up an LP without relegating themselves to being an EP only kind of band.
OFF! is a California band and their sound reflects that both in the music and lyric content. The guitar culls punk rock from the 70′s and 80′s with its semi-surf rock riffs, but, moreover, they accomplish a wall of sound with just one guitar player. It’s easy to do in today’s digital age of music recording, but imagine a wall of Marshall JCM 800′s behind Dimitri Coats, standing in his Ramones-esque power stance, shredding through G,C,D and A chords like the world is crumbling beneath his feet, most likely due to incessant stage dives. While the guitar solo isn’t a staple of punk rock, Coats accomplishes it in as much brevity as their songs do as a whole.
It is hard for me to not use the tired and worn out comparison to Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, but, let’s be honest, Keith Morris has a voice unlike any other so the comparison is an easy one. At this stage in his career, it is blatantly obvious that Morris has gone beyond the bands he is most famous for. He is older now, and he has seen more than I can imagine and that no doubt has had an effect on his writing. He is still angry and furious with a microphone in his hand.
While admittedly some of the songs seem to blur together if you are not intently listening to the record and take it as a whole, there are plenty of stand out tracks that blow you away and wake you up if you aren’t paying attention. “Borrow and Bomb”, “King Kong Brigade”, and “Vaporized” are a few specific songs that stand out among the rest due to their smashing, anarchic guitar riffs and strained, piercing vocals. The songs on this album confront topics head on as the songs are not just words put to chords so fill space on the record. Morris is tactful in how he addresses life in Los Angeles and the current political and social landscapes. He is subtle, but if you have been paying attention you will recognize what he references. The album starts and finishes before you even realize it. It is without a doubt a “get in, fasten your seatbelt, and hold on for your life” kind of record. OFF! songs connect with me on an emotional level, as any good music should, and makes me want to get up and move around whatever space I’m occupying.
To say I want to thrash around my living room is an understatement.