CD Shorts

OFF!
First Four EPs
(Vice)

Based on the description, there’s no way this band should sound so good. OFF! unites a quartet of punk veterans from Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Red Kross and Hot Snakes to bang out some old school hardcore tunes and relive their glory days. Pathetic nostalgia, right? But from the very first notes, the ferocity and immediacy of these performances make the music sound unaccountably fresh. Fifty-eight-year-old vocalist Keith Morris injects tunes like “Upside Down” and “Darkness” with startling snarl and venom. The band smartly deploys slashing punk riffs and blistering tempos in concise doses. This collection burns through 16 songs in a mere 17 minutes. It feels both exhaustingly satisfying and not a second too long. Crucially, OFF! isn’t a formalist exercise. This music would’ve sounded revelatory in 1981. Against all odds, it still sounds damn vital right now. —Jeff Jackson

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The Demographic
Verse Chorus Curse
(DemRec)

The Demographic—Tom Pappalardo and Sturgis Cunningham—is a guitar and drums duo that likes to keep it pretty raw. Punky influences rule on this seven-song EP, from Fugazi and Bad Religion to The Pixies and even locals like Pop*A*Wheelie and Broker, though there is a token country-ish tune tacked onto the end like a post-NASCAR event gasoline-flavored after-dinner mint. Brevity seems part of the mission for these guys; the album is only 15 minutes long and the shortest song (1:12) is called “Reducer,” a paean to the paring down of everything, as is “The Headliner.” All these lyrics could be perceived as a comment on things like layoffs and consolidation and/or the dumbing down of media and communication into moronic soundbites. Pappalardo’s voice has a distinct, Jagger-esque blues drawl that really makes the formula.  —Tom Sturm

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Yann Tiersen
Dust Lane
(Anti-)

French musician Yann Tiersen is probably most famous for composing the soundtrack to the film Amelie, but his skills go far beyond film accompaniment. Dust Lane is a strange symphony of instruments—from clanking toys to traditional stringed instruments—blended into something along the lines of expansive alien folk-rock. “Amy” offers a weird, wobbly start, mashing up synth sounds with a mid-tempo, guitar-driven feel. As the album rolls on, things get echoey and contemplative, then turn toward heavy washes of instrumentation. The effect is somewhere between “Revolution Number 9” and grandiose rock. Tiersen is hard to pin down, but that’s a pleasure: it’s seldom clear where his music is headed, but textures and styles seem to emerge in a well-planned chaos. Dust Lane feels like a visit to a cathedral long after the dust has settled from some apocalypse. Highly recommended.  —James Heflin

Author: Advocate Staff

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