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OFF! - First Four EPs



Late 2010/early 2011 has seen a number of albums released by "vintage" punk bands/artists. Many of them have been quite good, but the debut release(s) by OFF! is probably the most impressive of all of them. This isn't to say that the new Social Distortion and Bad Religion records weren't great, or that the upcoming release from Bad Brains won't be incredible (I'm sure it will), but OFF! is an unexpected home run.

OFF! is a supergroup of sorts, bringing together Keith Morris (the original lead singer of Black Flag and frontman of Circle Jerks) and members of Red Kross, Burning Bridges and Rocket From The Crypt. This line up only came together after a failed Circle Jerks reunion recording session forced Morris to look for new people to perform his new song ideas with. (Their promotional slogan has been "From the ashes of a really screwed situation!")

The similarities between OFF! and the early recordings of Black Flag are pretty obvious even before listening to the music. Between the band's name (both are insect repellents), the artwork found on the releases (Raymond Pettibon created all the art for the OFF! releases, as well as most of the Black Flag catalog), and even the compilation's name (First Four EPs sounds a bit like The First Four Years, a compilation by Black Flag), the intention is clear. Morris and company want to be clear that they are promising the listener rough, blistering hardcore, trimmed down to the bare bones. Boy, do they deliver.

These songs are living, breathing proof that punk and hardcore are not exclusive to the very young anymore (Keith Morris was 55 when recording these songs). The twelve songs contained on this release are every bit as in-your-face and anti-authoritarian as anything any of the members had recorded in their impressive collective back catalogs, and more relevant than most other punk rock that has come out in the last ten or so years. These are shitty times we live in, and luckily OFF! is there to supply a soundtrack for those of us who are paying attention enough to be up in arms about it. "You wonder why I'm always shouting, You wonder why I've gotta yell. . .'Cause you turned this into a livin' hell!" Morris belts out on "Upside Down". Yeah, that seems about right.

First Four EPs - 9 out of 10

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