Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Record Review: Off With Their Heads - All Things Move Towards Their End

Reviewing 'All Things Move Towards Their End' is a slippery slope, while I don't want to be seen to be romanticizing or endorsing drug addication, it's hard to not make it a focal point of my critique seeing as it one of the foremost themes of the album - along with vocalist and guitarist Ryan Young's battle with depression, apathy, alcoholism and social anxieties.

But what sets Off With Their Heads apart from the hordes of suburban safety punk bands big-noting their list of inane daddy issues, is the compassionate and articulate nature of their song writing. It's gritty, honest and comes from a very real and sometimes scary place. The gravity of songs like 'Bar Close and West Bridge Bank' and 'Don't Laugh I'm Totally Serious' is sometimes gut-wrenching. There's a very real pathos to Off With Their Heads that's both endearing and absorbing. And fuck it, I'm totally obsessed.

You may have discerned from their song titles that OFTH liberally approriate Dillinger Four's sound. This isn't to say they're some second class Midwestern punk band apeing D4, every song is top-shelf, especially considering 'All Things...' is a collection of b-sides and 7" tracks. Fuck, save for 'Midwestern Songs of The Americas' (my personal 2nd favourite album of all time), 'All Things...' is better than any D4 record. Young is a songsmith and poet who deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as Jawbreaker's Blake Schwarzenbach, the Weakerthan's John Samson or Crimpshrine's Aaron Cometbus.

Like D4, OFTH play a hook-filled variety of gritty pop punk. And they don't shy away from their pop sensibilities either. Note the handclaps on 'Five Across The Eyes', keyboard on 'Call The Cops', 'Bar Close and the West Bridge'. Then there's 'Horse Pills and the Apartment Lobby', a slice of jangle indie pop that's barely recognisable as an OFTH song. All are used in all the right places that add an extra dimension to the song.

I know I'm a little late hitching my cart to the OWTH wagon (this record came out late last year and they'll be releasing a new LP,'From The Bottom', next month), but this record hit me like a sledge hammer to the dick. Like Ben Weasel, Young is a 'character' musician. A deeply flawed human being struggling with his vices and hang ups through his music. Like Weasel, Young is a prolific song writer and an incredibly talented pop-punk song writer and I find myself waiting with baited breath for his next album.

Make up your own mind


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