This review is a little late, which is ridiculous, considering that the self-titled “full length” from the Keith Morris-fronted OFF!
clocks in at only 15 minutes. And even though they pack sixteen songs
in fifteen minutes, it really shouldn’t take more than a day or two to pull a review together for this album. But OFF! are hardcore royalty and, honestly, I was just a little intimidated. If you don’t recognize his name right off, Keith Morris founded the legendary Black Flag
, stuck around for one album, and then left to found and front the seminal L.A. hardcore band Circle Jerks for the next 13 or so years. The remaining members of OFF! are also celebrated musicians on the scene—guitarist Dimitri Coats (Burning Bridges), bassist Steven McDonald (Red Kross), and pummeling drummer Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes, Rocket from the Crypt).
Musically, OFF! is uncompromising, stripped-down LA hardcore, just like Morris’ early bands. But somehow this feels like a progression from those days – the album features the occasional chord change and the band instantaneously establishes (and just as quickly abandons) three or four coherent sections before each song expires. The guitar riffs and, really, EVERYTHING is loud and chunky, but each instrument is also surprisingly distinct behind all the noise. OFF! presents rock and roll like few bands do. It’s urgent and real, with zero unnecessary fill or pretension. If that’s what you like, you gotta check this one out. If you’re more into snotty pop-punk (Green Day), back away slowly.
Scott A. is the co-host of Left of the Dial, every Tuesday night from 10pm-midnight on KPOV (88.9 or www.kpov.org).