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Off!: First Four EPs

Vice

It defies logic that Black Flag/Circle Jerks vocalist Keith Morris still channels the whiplash fury of West Coast hardcore's first wave, which he set in motion more than 30 years ago. But "Black Thoughts," "I Don't Belong" and "Jeffrey Lee Pierce" make Off!'s First Four EPs almost as satisfying as Black Flag's original Nervous Breakdown (EP). The real difference is that now Morris is backed by a bad-ass drummer. The pounding rhythms of Mario Rubalcaba (Rocket From the Crypt/Hot Snakes) guide bassist Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) and guitarist Dimitri Coats' (Burning Brides) angst-ridden shredding. The songs sound a bit samey when mashed together like this, but they're so short and fast it doesn't matter. There's a quick and timeless energy here that rekindles the spirit of Los Angeles circa 1978. Had these songs been recorded back then, they would already be part of the hardcore lexicon. In 2010, they're destined to become classics. (4 out of 5 stars)