OFF! - First Four EPs [box set] (Cover Artwork)


OFF!: First Four EPs [box set]First Four EPs [box set] (2010)
Vice Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
(others by this writer | submit your own)

When Punknews interviewed Keith Morris earlier this year, he described OFF! as "what if Keith had never left Black Flag?". Well, he got it half right. Through the 16 tracks on First Four EPs, Morris maintains the vitriol, manic energy, and slight "this guy isn't quite all there" that made Nervous.
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When Punknews interviewed Keith Morris earlier this year, he described OFF! as "what if Keith had never left Black Flag?". Well, he got it half right.

Through the 16 tracks on First Four EPs, Morris maintains the vitriol, manic energy, and slight "this guy isn't quite all there" that made Nervous Breakdown so great. In fact, he even kicks up the energy a notch. While punk was still forming when Nervous Breakdown was recorded, now, Morris knows exactly what punk rock is and he knows exactly how he's going to show us how it's done.

Through the four EPs (that, aside from the first one, were not actually released separately) Morris just explodes. Like early Black Flag, he expresses his inability to fit in with society, the frustration of dealing with fake Californians and losing control of one's self. Interestingly, where the Nervous Breakdown EP ended with "Wasted," which was, depending on your opinion, either an ode or criticism of descent into oblivion via substance abuse, OFF!'s last song on this release, "Peace in Hermosa" starts with Morris recounting being zagged out on uppers, only to have the music fade into a sinister ambient bend, suggesting that the worst is yet to come...

But to suggest that OFF! is what Greg Ginn would have done had Keith stuck around is a misnomer. Wisely, the band does not try to duplicate or forecast what Ginn would have done after Nervous Breakdown. Many other guitarists have tried to copy the eccentric genius...and, well...you just can't replicate Greg Ginn. Instead, the band jacks up Detroit-style hard rock riffs and adds a punk edge, giving them real momentum that feels like it's ready to jump the rails, but never quite does. Without any extra flourishes, the band excels in their unique ability to keep it short and snappy, assuming the feel of Nervous Breakdown and Group Sex, but never feeling like they are copying either of those classics.

With 16-minute shows and 18-minute "albums," OFF! is reclaiming what can be absolutely great about punk rock. There's not a millisecond of wasted time, not a single wasted breath, not a single crack of the drums that doesn't drive the music forward. That's not to say that Morris is saying that ALL punk rock has to sound like this--the album has an ode to Jeffery Lee Pierce, Morris's old roommate, an entirely different type of punk rocker.

But in its packaging, First Four Eps seems to be making a retrospective of a band that is less than a year old and has played less than 10 live shows, demonstrating OFF!'s idea of ideal punk. It's with good reason.

Let's talk shop real quick. So far, there are several different versions of this release: A physical release on Vice, a digital release on iTunes, and a cassette release on Burger Records. If you like the physical product, like me, get the box set, because it comes with a download, too. Although the iTunes version has a bonus 17th track not on the EPs, you can download that separately.


People who liked this also liked:
Descendents - Milo Goes To CollegePropagandhi - Supporting CasteBad Brains - Bad BrainsThe Flatliners - CavalcadeThe Clash - London CallingFucked Up - David Comes to LifeOFF! - OFF!OFF! - 1st EPBlack Flag - Nervous BreakdownBlack Flag - Damaged

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
aaronrkc (December 26, 2011)

It‚??s good but not fast enough for my taste. I prefer Cerebral Ballzy‚??s album.

devianter (May 4, 2011)

the WHOLE album reminds me of just 1 song New Mexican Disaster Squad - Vultures (song)

johngentile (January 4, 2011)

Hey dude, did you not get one in your box? I got one in mine. If you wrtie to vice, they might hook you up. I do know there were several problems with assembling the boxes. Maybe they made a mistake in youtrs? Let me know how this ends up.

Craka-ass-Craka (January 2, 2011)

Just bought the box set, looking for the free download that is supposed to come with it......talking to you, JohnGentile.

JayTee (December 15, 2010)

Best of the year. Every last guitar riff and drum beat is raw, but calculated, and it doesn't all blend together like some modern 80s-throwback-hardcore band. Each song has it's own distinct flavor.

Cos (December 15, 2010)

Anyone seeing them this Friday in LA? None of my friends like hardcore.

hobbzoid (December 15, 2010)

I like it cause the songs are aggro. Short and kinda unconventional. Not a Flag retread but the guitar tone is pretty close to Nervous Breakdown. The lyrics are either so pissed off or just funny and great... I wanted this to suck cause I hate these old dudes trying to make good tunes but this is actually rockin better than most of this year's releases. is good.

hobbzoid (December 14, 2010)

it's great.

chipsahoycookie (December 14, 2010)

I love this.

StraightToHell82 (December 14, 2010)

I know this is Keith Morris... I know his history... but this sounds like a bunch of high-school kids that would be giving the finger in every single picture taken of them.

Why not just listen to Black Flag or Circle Jerks?

ZachLeg (December 14, 2010)

great record. cant wait to get mine in the mail.

rancidtommy (December 14, 2010)

best record (THAT'S RIGHT I SAID RECORD!!) of the year hand's down

Cos (December 14, 2010)

does the box set come with a Pettibone poster too?

Chadreligion (December 14, 2010)

One of my top releases this year for sure! These songs really take me back to the OLD School days of smoking pot, skateboarding, and listening to Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Circle Jerks,
Morris still sounds just as good as before, and it's awesome that the songs are recored in what seems to be their truest form, without any overdubs or over-production.... no polish, just alot of grit and power.

sailin_on (December 14, 2010)

Solid record f'sho my negro

MN_DrNick (December 14, 2010)

If this is not in your Top Five in EP releases of the year, please turn in you punk card...

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