OFF! - OFF! Album Review
The term 'angry old man' fits to Keith Morris - the man behind Circle Jerks/Black Flag - like a hand in a glove. The thing is, it is a tag that has lived with him throughout his life; only now is the 'old man' shtick coming into relevance. Two years ago, The First Four EPs took the punk world by the scruff of the neck in a way not too dissimilar from how The First Four Years did when a then Henry Rollins-led Black Flag released it in 1983. The self-titled debut LP from Morris, Burning Brides frontman Dimitri Coats, Redd Kross bassist Steven Shane McDonald and Rocket from The Crypt/Hot Snakes drummer Mario Rubalcaba is as angry and raw as you would expect to hear from the super-group, the only difference is now people look ready to start listening and pay attention.
Newfound attention can often lead to complacency within a record; a blip in the attention span that is usually more than noticeable between releases - whilst Morris and his OFF! cohorts manage to bypass this, there is something that the EP compilation had that lacks on this release. After an ambiguous few years, when Morris returned with the super-group it was a bolt from the blue, bringing intrigue that, as time has told, would begin to diminish over the years. From the word go you had to question the band's staying power, many even doubted that a LP would be made at all. Whilst incorporating all the angst and DIY ethic of the late 70's - mid 80's standouts, the freshness of the band is moving away and it seems that the band is more than aware of this - which could be why McDonald's Redd Kross are making their first LP in fifteen years.
So the shock and awe may be gone, but that doesn't instantly resign the album to the trash. Keith's viciousness and anger is as unabashed and pointing in as many angles as it has ever been. On 'I've Got News For You', he bemoans those who have never 'trudged through sweat and piss' like he and his gang have so often. Who it is he is lamenting could very well be anyone; fake punksters who resigned the genre to its eventual death, former band mates or all the silver spoon fed individuals that punk has always stood against. We may have seen the album coming, but if anyone thought they could escape the snarls of one of music's angriest men then they were very wrong. As he bawls the title of 'Feelings Are Meant To Be Hurt', it is easy to tell that even at 56, Morris is as reluctant as ever to let go of the anger and anxiety that still speaks to a whole world of pissed off teenagers and die hard punks.
With Coats, Rubacala and McDonald backing him up nobly, Morris stakes his claim that punk is as relevant as it was when he and the rest of the band started out, even if it might not be as fresh as it was when the band first came back. Sixteen songs in sixteen minutes may very well be the most effective anger management treatment in the book and, if someone with all the fury inside them as Morris has something to say, chances are it'll be worth a listen - however brief.
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