Sunday, March 30, 2014

OFF! Wasted Years

Ok, let's start with the obvious- Off! is Keith Morris' version of Black Flag. From the name ( Black Flag- Bug poison, Off!- Bug Repellent) to the Dan Armstrong guitar tone, this is referencing Black Flag-but, it is not Black Flag- Greg Ginn is negated, here- his misanthropy, his King Crimson-esque atonalities, his Autistic narcissism, all of which is a big part of what Black Flag is- that's not just absent, it's nullified. As pissed off as the lyrics are, they're based around passion, and concern for everyone. This is the voice of a guy who sees his friends being abused, and is striking out on their behalf. So, no, it's not The Circle Jerks, and this isn't a party band, although the videos are hilarious ( and you have got to see them) but it's not the alienated/alienating sort of unfocused threat that Black Flag grew to be, either. Likewise, minus Ginn's excursions into noise sheets, and quarter step 32nd notes completely off the scale solos, The saturated Dan Armstrong sound reads as crude blocks of sound- at times swallowing the bass and part of the tom sound from the drums- but as generic as that might sound, it makes for absolutely zero bullshit power rock- which I think is a good operational definition for Hardcore.
Which is the point, I think. You could argue where Hardcore comes from. Bad Brains, Middle Class, even ,DOA get the credit, however, for my money, Hardcore begins with the Keith Morris version of Black Flag. So, it's only fitting that the last Hardcore band be Off!
That point made, What's the new record like? It's hardcore. Sarcastic, pissed off, frenzied, and ultimately, passionately alive. Yes, you need it, right now. No, I don't think it re-invents anything. No, it's not some breakthrough from the last one. It's H-A-R-D-C-O-R-E. Get it.

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