Whew!!!... I mean... Whew!!!... God damn...just... Wooo weeee!!!!
I realize that as reviewers, we're supposed to maintain a reserved distance from the records we're talking about and say things like "so and so has shown remarkable growth and experimentation since the last release" or "this album exists as a one-off designed to test the limits of sonic comprehension" or "the tirade of Animal Collective homages has reached the breaking point of overexposure."
But you know what? Sometimes you just have to throw your hands in the air and hit the deck as a band kicks in the door and just obliterates the place. This EP rocks, man. It rocks hard.
OFF! is composed of the legendary Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks), Dimitri Coates (Burning Brides), Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) and Mario Rubalcaba (Rocket from the Crypt). I hate to use the term supergroup, because a supergroup seems to suggest that each member is being used as a highlight, where was with OFF! the music comes off as one cohesive band with all members kicking out the jams like a train jumping the tracks.
Consisting of four songs that are about a minute long each, this first EP release from the band seems to be a call to arms. This isn't a release where a guy talks about being sad about a breakup. This isn't a release where the efficacy of international trade is examined. This is an EP of politics on the micro scale. Much like Black Flag's Nervous Breakdown, the songs focus deep inside the mind of Morris as he explodes onto anything and everything near--a timebomb of irritation, frustration and anger. There's something wrong in the world, but all we see are the symptoms, and not the cause.
But, this isn't purely a Keith Morris show. As great as the diminutive singer is, he needs a crack band to help him shove his ire down our ears. Coats' guitar slams out out short and snappy riffs, influenced by both Detroit port punk and Southern California hardcore. While Coates' guitar lashes out, heightening Morris' howl, McDonald provides that thick bass that seems to merge with the guitar and Rubalcaba pushes it all forward with fast and loose smashes on the skins. These jams aren't technical perfection--they are raw and loud.
Notably, the cover was done by Raymond Pettibon, who also did the Nervous Breakdown EP as well as a lot of other Black Flag art. As a whole, with its four tracks, open white art, and songs that shatter at the end, the EP seems to mirror Nervous Breakdown as an opening statement for a new band. It's not clear if Morris is commenting on modern punk, sending out an homage to his roots, or tapping into the source that yields his fiercest music, but at any rate, this is seriously some of his best stuff.
In punk, it's far too often that icons get their respect AFTER they've passed on. I mean, Joe Strummer was not selling out venues at the end of his career. The Ramones were almost a footnote at their own final show due to the stars present. The Germs didn't really get notice outside of L.A. until long after Crash's death.
But, here is a band of veterans in TOP FORM. Although they've all created fantastic music in their past, this gives the older work a run for its money. Show some respect people. These are legends in action. Whew!