Pitchfork’s Paul Thompson described OFF!’s debut EP in 2010, First Four EP’s, as a refreshing and necessary record “in an indie rock landscape that typically values complex arrangements, subtlety, and good taste.” He believed that four years ago the punk principles that Keith Morris and co blasted were a revelation necessary ‘for a climate of frustration and powerlessness’. The climate hasn’t changed and with that OFF! are coming to the rescue with their second studio album Wasted Years.
The hardcore punk super group (that must be a niche market) consists of a complex family tree style list of members, all of whom are familiar faces to one another. On lead vocals there’s former Black Flag/Circle Jerks member Keith Morris. On guitar there’s Burning Brides’ Dimitri Coats, who helped produce the last (and failed) attempt at a Circle Jerks album (This failed album would lead Morris and Dimitri to form OFF!). Then there’s Steven Shane McDonald on bass, former member of Redd Kross (which also involved Circle Jerks’ guitarist Greg Hetson and current Black Flag vocalist Ron Reyes). And finally there’s Mario Rubalcaba on drums, who before Rocket From the Crypt started life as a pro skater on Tony Alva’s team (watch Lords of Dogtown). Alva currently plays in the band G.F.P. (General Fucking Principle), which funnily enough involves Hetson on guitar. Confused yet? Then don’t even get me started on the fact Raymond Pettibon (brother of Black Flag’s guitarist Greg Ginn) illustrates both Black Flag and OFF!’s album art. Whoops, too late!
Their member’s history may be a confusing (interlinked) affair however the music is not. Clocking in at only 23 minutes long, the album consists of only one song that breaks the two-minute threshold. On track ‘Hypnotize’ Morris sneers, “it’s a 60 second solution”. This sums up OFF!’s music perfectly. A short burst of fury to relieve frustration. Just what Pitchfork’s Thompson believed we needed. And to an extent he’s right.
The rest of the album continues it’s frantic affair and sits somewhere between Bad Religion and Circle Jerks. Notable tracks include ‘Legion of Evil’ and ‘It Didn’t Matter to Me’ which both showcase a metal element reminiscent of Witch. However this is an album that isn’t about those individual songs that shine through. Instead it is about the record as a whole. And if you’re a fan of Minor Threat, Circle Jerks, Bad Religion or any other 80s/90s punk (that most likely emerged from California) you’ll appreciate what OFF! are offering. This is hardcore punk for the hardcore punks.