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OFF! – OFF! album review

OFF!’s self-titled LP was released this May, and contains a disgusting vitality usually reserved for a sea of pissed off teenagers. Former Black Flag and Cirkle Jerks front man Keith Morris is almost 60, and needs to get it out of his system before he keels over and dies.

Dmitri Coat’s blistering guitar riffs cut through each song like a rusty serrated knife, attacking the spasmodic explosive drums provided by Mario Rubalcaba with sickening syncopation. The sardonic white-noise screeches of Morris contrast the riveting low-end of Steven Shane McDonald. Like most good punk records, the low fidelity production and frantic pace of the album will either make you want to grab a baseball bat and start smashing something or orgasmically stick your fist down the garbage disposal.

“I Got News For You” begins with a guitar riff in the diminished scale, an innovative technique implemented by former band-mate and Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn. Morris’s lyrics replicate the disillusioned wisdom of being a punk pioneer: “You think you’re king of the scene / Did you create it? / I got news for you.” Songs like “Vaporized” bring the ferocity of 70s surf punk, complete with distorted Dick Dale guitar riffs in the bass register and classic references to warfare (think Agent Orange). Songs like “503” contain ambiguous references to drugs and probably Portland, OR.

Atonal dissonance is revisited halfway through “Jet Black Girls” with thick and juicy thick chord clusters that would make Edgar Varèse cream his slacks. “I Need One” contains the classic unison bends on the guitar that influenced decades of grunge and alternative rock, without the consequential polish or proverbial body wash.

The albums maniacal rampage ends with a Morris’s demonic laugh and scream that will leave you aching for another listen. Punk may be dead, but it’s still staggering around, feeding on the bodies of our deaf-disenchanted.

By Duncan Ros

I have been writing for the college newspaper at Portland State for the past two years while simultaneously playing bass in a punk band. My interests include phantasmagorical literature, punk rock and cheap horror movies. My favorite album is Nirvana's Bleach.

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