See also: OFF!'s Dimitri Coats Talks Phoenix Oil Theft Charges Years ago, I saw Nick Lowe (probably my favorite songwriter) at the Rhythm Room. Right before he played a devastating new song called "I Read a Lot," he prefaced it with a warning, saying something like "This is a new song -- the problem if you don't like it is that it's not long enough to smoke a cigarette, but luckily, it's only about two minutes long."
I think about that when I listen to the new record by OFF! Not because I don't like the record -- on the contrary, it's great -- but because at about 16 minutes long, it's over so quick you barely have time to realize what's happened.
Sixteen minutes. That's a little shorter than the average sitcom episode. It's how long it takes me in the morning to decide if I want to have a bowl of cereal or Clif bar for breakfast. It's next to nothing, but in that tiny space, OFF! -- comprising Keith Morris of Circle Jerks/Black Flag fame, Dimitri Coats of Burning Brides, Steven McDonald of Redd Kross, and Mario Rubalcaba of Hot Snakes and Rocket From the Crypt -- cram a whole record of aggression, rage, and old-school guts into the amount of time you spend showering in the morning.
The longest tune, "Freeway Harbor Blues," clocks in at a whopping 1 minute, 14 seconds. The shortest, "I Got News for You" is 41 seconds long (and reportedly a diss on Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn). It's not a joke, either, not grindcore novelty, just punk rock boiled to the absolute basics. A good riff, some cranked amps, and a cantankerous frontman who's been around the block more than a few times.
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Sixteen minutes is how long it takes most bands to get warmed up. OFF's new album (called OFF!) hits the web and record stores today. It's one of the best things I've heard all year.
It's certainly not for everyone (those who are craving hooks and melody might want to look elsewhere), but you should listen. If you hate it, it'll be over soon.