It's tempting to wonder what was going on with Keith Morris from 1995, when the Circle Jerks released the less than remarkable Oddities, Abnormalities, and Curiosities, and 2009, when he helped form OFF! from the wreckage of an unfinished Circle Jerks album, because even though he worked on a variety of projects during that period, there was little to suggest the guy still had it in him to lead a great band. But once OFF! began playing and recording in 2010, it was obvious Morris had gained a second wind and was delivering some of the strongest, most unhinged work of his career. 2014's Wasted Years is OFF!'s second proper album, and like their self-titled debut (and the EP collection that preceded it), this thing goes off like an M-80, with Morris laying out some of his sharpest and most articulate rage, filtered through lyrics that are smarter and more severe than what he usually tossed out in his days with Black Flag or the Circle Jerks, good as they both could be. Of course, Morris isn't the whole band, and it helps enormously that he's got three musicians who deliver with the same ferocity he brings to the picture; Dimitri Coats lacks a bit of the angular attack of Greg Ginn, a clear point of influence, but for sheer buzzy onslaught, he could pass for hardcore's James Williamson, while Steven McDonald's bass and Mario Rubalcaba's drums are at once simple, brutal, and extremely clever, injecting just a dash of musicians' smarts into a furious report that would tire most players half their age. It's not hard to imagine that nostalgia has a certain amount to do with OFF!'s appeal, as former hardcore kids pay homage to heroes from their shaved-head days, but the simple truth is OFF! are a blisteringly good band who would have absolutely ruled the roost if they'd emerged with music this powerful and confident back in the golden era of HC, and they still hit with the power of a Mack truck here in the 21st century. Wasted Years confirms OFF! are wasting no time -- they're among the very best American punk bands of their day, and show there's plenty of snarling, howling life left in the beast after all these years.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming