Album Review

Off! – “Free LSD” – [Fat Possum Records]

whngr   11/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

Angry hippy loses control of his hardcore punk band (and perhaps his sanity) while continuing a life-long insurrection against oppressive capatilist war-mongering regimes and on this first release in eight years, extraterrestrials… and it fucking works. 

A strong pivot from this new release from OFF! that while employing several new elements, themes, and instrumentation while retaining a hardcore punk ethos and structure. Sounds a little like Circle Jerks colluding with a swollen, up-tempo Godspeed You Black Emperor with trem-picked heavily effect laden guitar in short form psychedelic fueled declarations against quietude. 

OFF! is Keith Morris/vox (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Flag), Dimitri Coats/guitar & electronics (ex-Burning Brides), Autry Fulbright II/bass(…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead), drummer Justin Brown (Thundercat, Herbie Hancock), John Wahl-saxophone (Claw Hammer). Long-time punk rock art icon, Raymond Pettibon contributes the art as per usual but in a shocking twist, employs a spray of soft color; a thumbing of the nose at well heeled conventions that mirror and complement the songs on this recording that explores metal, psychedelia, and jazz in, and around, the hardcore punk template. The packaging is just as far afield from what was called “hardcore punk” at one time, eschewing DIY ethos and aesthetic to embrace rock and roll excess and deserves a little attention, what is going on with the strange tactile printing on the interior of the gatefold? Does it glow? What happens if you lick it? Will the alien robot take over your mind? How much did this gatefold cost to print?! And lastly, the liner notes are printed on perforated white blotter paper that actually gave us a physical rush when we pulled it out, reminding us of our former days when we might have explored synaptic distortion with a lysergic irrigation of the cerebellum as we fell deep… into our developing degenerate punk rock minds. I like it though, unconventional and acerbic with a salient theme that is carried throughout the LP. The language of the genre continues to evolve, absorbing new vocabulary and phrasing while being inextricably tied to one of the last surviving roots of 20th century Southern California hardcore punk.

Los Angeles – October 2022

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