Off with Their Heads - All Things Move Toward Their End (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Off with Their Heads

All Things Move Toward Their End (2007)

No Idea

I wouldn't say I'm a procrastinator -- I just have a problem with putting things off. I got this CD about four months ago and immediately slipped it in the bottom of the pile for reviews. My first thought was that like a headlining act or a main dish, I should save the best for last. Then I decided I should wait ‘til I moved to Minneapolis before busting it out to make the experience more "special." Fast-forward to two hours ago when I realized the record-release show for their debut full-length is in about two days and that I should probably pump out the review of their splits/7"/rarities compilation All Things Move Toward Their End, and that about brings us up to speed: Me listening to this on repeat for the last hour and a half and frantically whipping up this review in less time than I know I should devote.

However, if I can do this release any justice at all, I might as well let my praise for Off with Their Heads flow freely, unadulterated and void of any grammatical or scholarly restraint.

There's no denying that Off with Their Heads put out some of the catchiest melodic punk in the upper Midwest, currently rivaled only by Dillinger Four, whose ceremonial head of band, Paddy Costello, plays on five tracks here. While the raw, gravelly, bare-bones approach to pop-punk suits the band just fine, the great thing about OWTH is their unwillingness stay within genre boundaries, throwing in some organ stylings straight out of Booker T and the MG's playbook ("Fuck You, You Tshirt Necktie Wearing Motherfucker," "Bar Close and the West Bank Bridge"), twangy, latter-day Replacements pop ("Horse Pills and the Apartment Lobby") and open-chested suicide anthems that fall somewhere between Jets to Brazil and Kind of Like Spitting ("Don't Laugh, I'm Totally Serious"). Though singer Ryan Young's melodic tales of incurable ache are the subject of so much of the band's material, there is a sardonic undertone hiding behind themes of everything from carjacking to drug abuse to teenage flings turned sour.

With a pair of stellar covers in the form of the Muffs' "Big Mouth" and the Replacements' "Goddamn Job," OWTH demonstrate their ability to not only craft their own gruff sing-alongs from the ground up, but also put their own spin on a couple of classics (though Google seems to think "Goddamn Job" is an OWTH original). The jury's still out on what ought to be considered the best cuts on this collection because they're all so damn good, but it's between "Call the Cops" and "Sleeping in Carrie's Car" which comes off as something between a perverse song of affection and a cry for help: "I can't help but think, if we tried to lead a normal life…would we survive? Or would we fuck ourselves up worse than we do right now? We'd just be doing it in a house instead of my pullout couch / […] / We're in debt but we don't own a fucking thing / I spend your money on booze, you spend my money on speed."

Although the contents of this compilation come from such varying origins as 7-inches, splits with the likes of Tiltwheel and the immortal J Church, and unreleased material, there is still a remarkable evenness and flow. There's still a few more days ‘til the debut full-length comes out, so go pick this up and get yourself up to speed in the meantime!