Thursday, December 16, 2010

Veoba Post: RECORD REVIEW: OFF!’s The First Four EPs

Originally posted on

I grew up a punk rock skateboarding child of the 80’s. I had an older brother that heavily influenced my life… I was completely his shadow. We spent free time skateboarding and listening to punk records, and once a week we tuned into Vinyl Rights – a radio show, which aired on KFJC, hosted by Alex Morgan. What Alex spun on his show was what became our “To Buy” list of records.

My first record was purchased in 1981… and the next year I got my first skateboard (a Santa Cruz Red Dot). My classmates at the parochial school I attended were into Prince, Tina Turner, Van Halen, Lionel Richie, Yes, Phil Collins, Ray Parker, Jr. But I was spending my time with Black Flag, X, Dicks, Big Boys, Dead Kennedys, Angry Samoans, Faction, Pariah, Fang, Minutemen, and Redd Kross. I thrived on being different. I hated MTV… since all of my brother’s friends hated it. I thought streetplants were the lamest trick… since all of my brother’s friends hate it. I hated Vision Street Wear… since all of my brother’s friends hate it. One thing about my brother and his group – they rarely lead me the wrong way. Since I could ollie better than most, the picking on me (the little brother) was limited.

In 1984 I purchased my first Black Flag album, My War. That year I also learned that this was a crap release, and the early 7”s by the Keith Morris-fronted Black Flag were much cooler. Although I was never a big Circle Jerks fan, I did write their name on my books and boards (and looking back I’m not sure I even had a clue what their name was all about). The Massacre at Mile High was in 1984 (a skateboard contest, not a massive shooting) and I rode Hosio (which broke in one day), Bullet, and Natas decks.

I never left punk rock, but in 1985-86 I started to get into new sounds by the Jesus and Mary Chain, Cult, New Order, PiL, Smiths, Wire, fIREHOSE, Siouxsie, Depeche Mode and a slew of bands that formed this Alternative sound. Skateboarding remained as the soundtrack grew. My punker “toughness” changed into energy spent reciting LL Cool J and Violent Femmes lyrics to woo the girls I was into (that my brother always called chunky).

Fast forward to 2010 and Vice Records releases The First Four EPs from OFF!, a group comprised of Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks), Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), Steven McDonald (Redd Kross), Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes, Clikitat Ikatowi, Thingy, Rocket from the Crypt). How can this not be amazing? The release is filled with ninety second (or less) punk songs circa 1983. This release reminds me why punk rock is still great, and why crap sell-out emo (see Hawthorne Heights) will always suck… just like 80’s buttrock. It makes me want to get on my board right now (yep, I still skate), but there is snow on the ground in Chicago. So I guess I’ll just sit on the floor, put on the 7” box set, and work on my punker “toughness.”