OFF! is a rarity in the punk rock / hardcore world – a late career entity that is equal to, if not better than, all the acts the members have been involved with over the last 35 years. Keith Morris led Black Flag and Circle Jerks, Dimitri Coats fronted Burning Brides, Steve Shane McDonald was / is bassist for Redd Kross, and Mario Rubalcaba also mans the drum kit for Rocket from the Crypt and Hot Snakes. Without a doubt, this is impressive company – but OFF! truly are something special. The band recently dropped the Wasted Years full length – 16 tracks of blistering aggression that covered just over 20 minutes. My favorite record by them so far, and here we are just a few weeks later with 2 non LP tracks – Learn to Obey and I See Through You, released on Paul Weller’s favorite day, Record Store Day.
There is no drop in quality with these songs – in fact, they’d be stand outs on the record. Learn to Obey is the A side and has Keith Morris spouting off over top of aggressive guitar riffs. Not quite hardcore, not quite punk – its their own thing, really. It imagines an Orwellian future where world leaders aren’t exactly honest and their followers eat it up “If you just learn to obey / Everything will be OK”. Insane screams towards the end by Morris, and some dissonant guitar work from Dimitri Coats. A perfect OFF! song. I See Through You increases the tempo just a bit and once again finds Keith Morris in full on rant mode, calling out people for their hypocrisies.
If you can find it, it is an essential purchase. 5500 copies of this 7-inch were pressed in black vinyl for Record Store Day 2014 and it came with a download code (FLAC, MP3, WAV). The artwork is by Shepard Fairey and it does a really nice job of conveying the message of the music. The entire thing is over in less than 3 minutes, but those 3 minutes just might change your life.
Verdict: Hardcore Classic
For Fans of: Black Flag, Minor Threat, Circle Jerks, Fugazi, Burning Brides, Bad Brains, Redd Kross, Beastie Boys