Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Retrospective: The Offspring (Part 1)

After going through my favorite albums from The Offspring (Americana, Splinter, Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace) and writing a whole breakdown of Americana, I decided to go all in and do a Retrospective for the group.

The Offspring are one of the big three in the Punk Revival scene of the early 90's (along with Green Day and Rancid), and personally my favorite. Americana was the first album I ever bought with my own money (I was in 6th grade), which signified the beginning of my musical independence from my parents (everyone starts as a child with only their parent's music to go with) and led down the winding road to who I am now.
The group's sound has changes over the years, beginning with a down-and-dirty style, semi-hardcore/garage rock if you will, into a melding of grunge and punk in the 90's, then to a more 'poppy' simple sound of the early 2000's. The release of their latest album, Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace, sees the band heading into a 'smarter' venue of music, with musically and lyrically diverse songs and themes, blending in some progressive elements into their punk.
Because I came into the group at Americana, I am a much bigger fan of the second half of the group's career, but I still enjoy the early albums, some of the early singles - though dark and depressing (grunge) - are quite catchy and a good listen. Supposedly the group has another album coming out at the end of this year or into the next. I really want to see in what direction the band heads at this point in their career.

The Offspring (1989)
With lower production values and faster, shorter songs, The Offspring's self-titled debut was more akin to the 'classic' punk of the 80s then what would emerge as a forerunner of the punk rock revival movement. I rarely listen to this album, not being a fan of the style, so I may not be the best person to break it down. Stand-outs "Jennifer Lost the War," "Beheaded," and "Tehran" are all worth a listen, and they show up from time to time in movies or in compilations. Other then that, I really have nothing to say. Awesome album art though, A+ for presentation.

Ignition (1992)
During the time Ignition was released, alternative rock and grunge were in their hey-day. While this album still holds onto some of the anger and maintains the quasi-hardcore sounds of their debut, it also begins the slide into the dark, depressed sounds that would be expanded upon for their next release. This is definitely a transition album, with songs all over the place - both in style and subject matter. I'm really not to familiar with this album, I have listened to it a few times but I only start to pick up The Offspring's style and sound with Smash, and like where the group goes from there.

Smash (1994)
The Offspring's White Album, Smash was a smash success (get it?). With grunge in the mainstream, their style of grunge-punk collected masses of fans. Songs like "Gotta Get Away," "Come Out and Play," and "Self Esteem" all were hit singles, and still get considerable radio air-time today. As I said before, this is where I join picture as far as enjoying the band's music. I like these singles, but not much else on the album. The dreary sounds really aren't for me. I like my punk up-beat and frantic, not necessarily positive but I need something more and a whiny collection to make my day. The singles are good (mostly because I've heard them a thousand times), and a few other songs on the album stand out, but this is the beginning of change for the band. This album was better then the past two, and it paves the way for the great album Americana, and the albums after.

Ixnay on The Hombre (1997)
Like Ignition, Ixnay on the Hombre is another transition album. This time moving away from the grunge-punk of Smash, and towards the punk revival/California punk sounds of other big names in the genre (Green Day and Rancid). Their singles followed the same pattern and style of Smash's, but the others moved into the direction of their future sound - a bit more punky, less wailing and depression. In my opinion it's one of their weaker albums, with nothing that greatly stands out, just a couple of singles and even that is stretching it.

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