Review Summary: After a string of split-releases and 7-inches, Minneapolis' finest up-and-coming punk rockers churn out a masterpiece of a debut LP.
Introductions be damned, I'm going to cut straight to the chase here - From the Bottom
is the best honest-to-goodness punk rock album I've heard in years. Listening to Off With Their Heads
debut full-length is like a punch in the face, or a mouthful of murky brown phlegm spat in your eye, followed a hairy, sweaty arm around your neck ready to join in a giant singalong.
Typically for a release on Gainesville's infamous No Idea Records, this is a rough-edged affair, guitars churning like rusty chainsaws, basslines sounding as though they're being plucked on elevator cables, and drums going off like explosions in a welding factory. As for vocalist Ryan Young, well this is a guy who eschews the traditional breakfast for a bowl of gravel and razorblades, washed down with a nice glass of battery acid. Yeah, his voice is real fuck
ing gruff, yet he's still somehow able to really carry a tune with that mangled throat of his - imagine Al Barr of The Dropkick Murphys
crossed with a rusty tractor engine, and then factor in the presence of some almost-as-gravelly vocal harmonies and "whoah"s; the results are consistently effective. Collectively the band's style is very much like how The Replacements
might have sounded if they'd lived on a diet of hard liquor and steroids; such a comparison is neither overly flattering or innacurate - in addition to the musical style present, the lyrical fodder of life's many fuck
-ups is another aspect that OWTH share with Westerberg and Co.
However, what separates OWTH from their peers is the joyously upbeat mood that pervades the whole album. Whereas, for example, Hot Water Music
tend to have a fairly sombre feel to their songs, optimistic at best, and Planes Mistaken for Stars
sound like they're constantly drowning their sorrows, Young seems almost ecstatic while singing lines dripping with spite and fury ("I'll tell you why I fucking hate my life and I'll tell you why I can't seem to get it right,"
from opener "I Am You"
and "Until the day I die I fuckin' swear I'm gonna make your life as miserable as mine"
from "Until the Day..."
being two particular highlights).
I could examine individual songs and pull apart the lyrics, but really, it's this honesty, intensity and heartfelt delivery, combined with simple yet effective songwriting and a raw yet beefed up production job that makes From the Bottom
such an essential listen and, like the album, I'm going to keep this review, short, fancy-free, and to the point. Get this album NOW, and I promise you, you won't regret it.