Punk isn’t what it used to be. With the rise of the Occupy Movement, you’d think there would be more old school, outspoken punk bands cropping up left and right, though that’s not necessarily the case on a grand scale. While bands like Ceremony, Fucked Up, The Men and even Death Grips have channeled and articulate form of aggression, it’s a small group and a greater presence would be welcome in the current landscape. Not for the sake of politics, but for the sake of reinvigorating the energy and explosive spirit of bands ranging from Black Flag to Fugazi.
Enter OFF!, a punk super group that shouldn’t even exist. To those familiar with the 1980s L.A. punk scene and some of the great bands it influenced, it’s a treat to have a team of veterans like Steven McDonald, Dimitri Coats, Mario Rubalcaba and the great Keith Morris all in one group. But more so than their collective credentials, it’s the music they create together that’s worth celebrating. Clocking in at less than 16 minutes, OFF!’s self-titled debut album acts more like a fun, fast paced jam session. The elements of punk are here: the rapid drums, the loud guitars, the fast bass and Morris’ aggressive delivery, which hasn’t left him since way back in his early Black Flag and Circle Jerks days.
OFF! stir up a highly aggressive atmosphere, but do it in a succinct and straightforward matter. While the way-too-short songs are the aspect that makes up the biggest flaw, it still works in the context of the band’s inflammable punk style. Where a newer, younger punk band might opt for glossier production or use of more effects, these songs don’t need any extra dressing since they get to the point pretty quickly. OFF! maintain the aesthetic of traditional punk and keep close to its old-school roots. Similar to their debut compilation, First Four EPs, this album is packed tightly. Don’t let the length of the tracks fool you, this album chews you up and spits you back out, like any good punk album should. Each and every song maintains the same relentless pace that provides an instant adrenaline rush.
To repeat an earlier complaint, however, there is one glaring problem: The album is way too short! But, on the other hand, you can listen to it at least three times in one hour, and each song keeps the spirit intense and the furor maxed out. Whether you’re a longtime fan of each member’s previous work or a newcomer to punk rock, OFF!’s second effort only proves that they are not a band to be reckoned with or taken lightly.
Stream: OFF! – “Cracked”