Sunday, July 20, 2008

Off Minor - Some Blood

In terms of concepts Off Minor's latest 'Some Blood' is not an album I'd label as comforting. Where there previous records tackled very specific areas of the band's social interactions 'Some Blood' is a more visceral, more encompassing, and in general more mature effort. This assertion puzzles me because it seems that as time passes hardcore bands tend to start off being a little more accusing and end being more introspective. Perhaps, the most impressive part of Off Minor is in fact the length of their existence and how focused and similar their message has been over all of that time. 'To An Ex' may seem to be walking along ground that was covered on the groups' first record 'The Heat Death of the Universe', but that album exposed the personal trials of the band in a very short direct way. The songs presented on 'Some Blood' are dealing with overarching concepts of social commonality. Off Minor is one of few bands that speak directly to the hearts of a community while at the same time applying moments that are so moving that it creates a certain brand of philosophy. 'Everything Explicit' examines the tragedy of words left unsaid not in a selfish way rather mournfully examining the issue. It is important to take note of the ages of this band and their contemporaries because most people playing this type of music simply aren't breaking thirty. In turn this leaves Off Minor with a little more to prove than your average hardcore band. Simply judging by the bands the members of Off Minor have been in the group is certainly going to have a certain amount of anticipation surrounding their releases. So, when the group stretches out and exposes itself with a track as bare and uncharacteristic as 'Practice Absence' it is both surprising and common place. Off Minor is a radical thinking version of a high school genre and on 'Some Blood' the groups' trademark blend of 'jazz like' phrasing with extreme aggression has reached a point of finality.
Jamie Behar
‘Some Blood’ is proof that the band has blended their previous sounds into one all encompassing effort. Opener 'Neologist' proves this perfectly in its short span of nearly three minutes jumping from traditional Off Minor heavy sections that are juxtaposed by a gorgeous interlude that succeeds at being both technical as well as transcendent. 'No Conversationalist I' cycles through more chord progressions than were found on the entirety of 'Group Sex'. The title track finds the visceral voices of Jamie Behar and Steve Roche taking a backseat to some more relaxed spoken vocals that help ease the listener through the rapid transitions found throughout the song. The key improvement on this record though seems to be the care taken in producing it. On Off Minor's last record 'Innominate' the drums seemed to appear simply as a toms and cymbal, while here we experience an extremely organic sounding set that helps emphasize the always moving bass lines of Kevin Roche. While previously the guitar and bass seemed to either tonally sound distorted or clean on 'Some Blood' the group seems to be stretching out their sonic palette. 'Practice Absence' represents this best with its multitude of layered guitar pieces that incorporate varieties of effects as well as singing portions that sound dissimilar to anything Off Minor has done to date. If this record is in fact Off Minor's final document let it be known that they have full evolved their sound into something completely unique from any current trend in hardcore.
Off Minor's 'Some Blood'
The final aspect I'd like to shed light on in regards to 'Some Blood' is the intelligence of its lyrics. Where most of their contemporaries are simply echoing usual white suburban male issues, Off Minor has crafted a literate assessment of hardcore values. As I said early 'Everything Explicit' is a muse on the deterioration of relationships but how the group actually visualizes this is what makes them such a special band.

'as we live these linear lives,
unidirectional, towards an inevitable end
we must make everything explicit.
that's how we left it: unsaid,
i'm at a loss for words.'

For simply the vocabulary alone Off Minor should be applauded. But, when you examine the actual things they are saying you being to understand why this group is held in such high regards. Few hardcore bands will ever have the honor of saying that every single one of their records is an essential buy and Off Minor is one of the few. In terms of quality in regards to quantity the last group to have such a solid discography in my opinion would either be Unwound and Fugazi and simply putting a band on that level is guarantying people to question my judgment. I don't mind though, I can unabashedly say Off Minor is my favorite band and that no contemporary group speaks as effectively as them. As the group themselves say

'this is not injustice.
this is poetic license
permitted by a nation's silence.'

Off Minor - Some Blood (2008)
(link takes you to digital ordering site for the record. Off Minor pulled a Radiohead so donate what you will.)


blend77 said...

Great review of a great album.

I am seriously looking forward to seeing them play with Portraits of Past this August in NYC.

Jared Dillon said...

i was thinking about making the trek up to San Fran for that show, but i'm pretty sure i'll be saving my gas money for the Hot Water Music show that is going on there in August.

Portraits of Past were never my favorite group but Matt Badja is one of my favorite drummers ever. Off Minor is great live and hopefully you enjoy it.