Super groups tend to disappoint, but OFF! is a welcome exception to the rule. The band’s lineup reads like a hardcore Justice League, with each member a prime mover of the basic aesthetics of punk. OFF! features defiant iconoclasts from Redd Kross, Rocket From the Crypt, and Burning Brides, but their ace in the hole is front man Keith Morris, the dreadlocked screamer for the Circle Jerks and Black Flag, among others.
OFF! formed when guitarist Dimitri Coats joined Morris to produce a new Circle Jerks record, their first in fourteen years. Rough demos were recorded during breaks in the sessions. The pair realized the quality of these early sketches, and eventually captured them on a four-part seven-inch debut. The songs phase from anarchic sloppiness to sublime virtuosity, with many clocking in at less than a minute. These are well-built machines in the best punk tradition, violently swerving out of control.
Lyrically, Morris keeps to his bleak comfort zone of U.S. politics, racism, and economic strife, but somehow his world has grown colder since Black Flag’s time in the seventies. In Morris’ words, “there’s more cars, more crime, and people work longer, and the politicians get slicker and become better liars.” Armed with time-won derision, the band propels itself through show after show, delivering a nightly batch of rough-hewn chaos.