The Offspring are an American punk / alternative rock band formed in mid-80's by Bryand Holland (Dexter) and Greg Kriesel. The duo started playing together in their garage in Cypress, California. The band was originally named Manic Subsidal, and, to my knowledge, under that name they've recorded only one single, Hopeless. It was a short (1 minute and 22 seconds) punk tune very inspired by other Californian punk bands that were popular at the time, like T.S.O.L. and Social Distortion.
In 1985 Kevin Wasserman (Noodles) joined the band and soon after they've decided to change their name to The Offspring. In 1986 the band published their first demo tape. There were only six songs on it, but all of them decent. It was still very simplistic, but melodic punk like their first song. Even though it sounds raw and primitive, Demo contains songs like Blackball and Fire And Ice that will be featured on their debut album only a few years later. One of the best songs on the tape is Call It Religion which gave very direct and harsh criticism to organized religion and their followers. Unfortunately, that song was never re-recorded. Even though commercially unavailable, digital version of the Demo tape can be found online for download. I recommend it to fans of the band who want to hear the very origins of the band. Their music was flawed and poorly arranged, but very sincere and energetic, just like punk is supposed to be.
In 1989 The Offspring signed a deal with small local label, Nemesis Records, and started working on their self-titled debut album. The Offspring was released in 1989 but only in limited number and it wasn't a huge commercial success.
Album opens up with two explosive songs, Jennifer Lost The War and Elders. Their style was rebelious and their music was uncompromising. It was punk, but more gentle and melodic, which made it suitable for wider audiences. Album also featured their better version of Blackball. The real gem of entire tape was, in my opinion, I'll Be Waiting, which is more complex than majority of the songs on the album and has very catchy refrain. Other songs worth a mention are Tehran, A Thousand Days and Demons.
Two years later Baghdad EP was released. The title song, Baghdad, was nothing but a cover version of Tehran. The opening song, Get It Right later appeared on their second studio album, but never really got much attention. Track number two was their cover version of Hey, Joe, a very modest one, to say the least. Overall, this EP was nothing special but it earned them a new contract, this time with Epitaph Records.
Under the new label the band released their second studio album, Ignition. The sound quality of the songs is a little bit better and their music evolved a little, took more serious tone and lyrics bacame deeper. Opening track, Session, is one of the most hardcore songs on the entire album. It's a good starter and it definitely earns listener's attention but the follow up is mild at best. Album definitely has its ups and downs. While I enjoy listening to Kick Him When He's Down, I usually just skip songs like Take It Like A Man.
This time, the absolute winner for the best number goes to Dirty Magic, a song that I've considered to be their greatest ever since then. It was re-recorded many years later for 2012 album release Days Go By. Hypodermic and No Hero are two more nostalgic songs that fall more into alternative rock category than punk. It was only a hint of new direction that the band will take many years later. My other favorite from this album is Burn It Up, funny and catchy punk tune.
Third time lucky, that's how it worked out for The Offspring. The year was 1994 when Smash came out and it was a smash hit. In fact, the album set a record for the most units sold by and independent label. They sold 16 million records. Album opens with short Intro and then loud, fast, furious and almost violent Nitro (Youth Energy). You get a few seconds to breathe while listening to Greg's bass opening the next track and then the adrenaline rush starts again with Bad Habit. After first few songs the album simply feels flawless. It's not that the album doesn't have its moments of weaknesses, but the excellence of songs like Gotta Get Away, Come Out And Play and Self Esteem is overwhelming.
Even though they've promised differently, The Offspring left Epitaph and signed a new contract with Columbia Records, a movement that their hardcore fans will never forgive them. The band was enjoying wide acclaim and they became the leaders on new pop-punk revival movement, along with bands like Pennywise, NOFX and Rancid. However, their original fanbase was hugely disappointed and The Offspring never repeated the same success as with Smash.
The following album, Ixnay On The Hombre, was just not good. Even though it tries to repeat the same formula used on Smash, and it starts well with The Meaning Of Life, whole album is a disappointment. Some songs are still awesome, like Cool To Hate and Gone Away, but depite that there are just too many times I had to skip a song. Me And My Old Lady is by far the worst The Offspring song I've ever heard and I have no idea what were they thinking when they were recording it.
Americana, which followed in 1998, wasn't much better either. The album produced some of the most popular songs and it charted well. For majority of people outside USA this was the first time they've heard the band. Pretty Fly (For A White Guy), Why Don't You Get A Job? and The Kids Aren't Alright secured the band even more popularity. In my opinion, only The Kids Aren't Alright is a decent song, followed by Have You Ever and Americana. Some credit has to be given to Pay The Man too, because it was their experiment with Egyptian classical music. All in all, Americana isn't thad bad at all, but for most of their fans it was a shift towards more corporative, commercial and mainstream music. What this album gives you are catchy pop jingles in the form of what used to be punk music. What this album lacks is attitude. The Offspring were a band that had their opinion and their attitude. Dexter was educated enough and the popularity they got after Smash could secure them influence as well. But they dropped it all and decided to record pop tunes instead.
Conspiracy Of One, in my opinion, had only one really good song and it was Vultures. The rest of the album was more unimaginative pop songs flavoured as punk. Kind of like Americana, only worse. The follow-up album, Splinter, was even worse and i can't name not even one truly great song from that album. The band took a five-year hiatus and returned in 2008 with new album.Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace was just another disappointment for many of their fans, but, personally, i find it huge improvement over the previous two albums. Album opens up with Half Truism which isn't bad at all. You're Gonna Go Far, Kid was the most popular and, frankly, probably the best song on the album.
There is a sentimental Kristy, Are You Doing Okay? and punkish Stuff Is Messed Up with pretty hillarious music video, so this album offers some variety of songs, even though it's musically still very limited to their original three-chord style.
We had to wait another eternity for new album. The band gave us some bones here and there, but for a full album we had to wait another five years. In 2012 Days Go By was released. I was very excited to hear it. Even though my mind was aware that their best days are over and they will never be able to repeat the same sincere flawed perfection from their earlier albums, my heart was still aching for new The Offspring material. The opning track, The Future Is Now is great, really. The rest of the album seemed like dull and boring after the first listening. Re-recorded version of Dirty Magic really fits nicely, as if the band members themselves were longing for good old days.
After a few more attempts at listening I really started to like the album. Band members are no longer teenagers who had to hire a school janitor as a guitar player just so he could buy them alcohol. They are grown up people and their personalities have developed and changed. As they say in one of their songs Memories are bittersweet / The good times we can't repeat / Those days are gone and we can never get them back / Now we must move ahead / Despite our fear and dread / We're all wishing we could stop, but / Life goes on / Come of age / Can't hold on / Turn the page (...).
Very soon their tenth studio album will come out. And i can't wait to hear it.