NOFX – [10” EP]

Wednesday, 03 August 2011

Those who graduated high school before 1998 (read: before high-speed internet was available virtually everywhere including rural areas and before file sharing sites forced the bottom out of the bootleg album industry) may remember when one of the easiest ways for young fans to really prove their undying fan-dom for a band was to know every song and every lyric in a band's catalogue and be able to recall them by rote. Some kids would even play “Name That Tune” types of trivia games where one kid would write out a lyric for a friend to guess its correlating song title. These sorts of activities might sound stupid (especially with the proliferation of online lyric archives available now at the click of a mouse), and maybe my friends and I were bigger nerds than most, but they used to happen; I dedicated a semester of ninth grade keyboarding class to this kind of phenomenon.

Were my friends and I alone in our geeky quest to be “The Biggest Fan?” The existence of NOFX' untitled 10'' EP proves we weren't. The EP contains nine cover songs but has no cover and no song titles anywhere the record; in effect, NOFX has basically released their own variation on the “Name That Tune Game” to test their fans' knowledge. The band hasn't made it easy either; because the band members have long maintained that they were fans of punk in the late Seventies and early Eighties, that's where they've placed the EP's focus, which means there are only a couple of songs in this run-time which aren't incredibly obscure.

It might sound juvenile to release a record like this, but those of us who played those geek-grooming trivia games in high school may get a little tingle. This untitled EP almost feels like a challenge thrown down by the band which says, “Are you fan enough to not just know US, but to know the shit we loved when we were kids?”

Well, let's find out. Game on – sorry to readers if I get some wrong.

Right from the get-go, NOFX goes out of its way to shake things up a bit for this EP as guitarist Eric Melvin steps to the front of the band to sing covers of Agnostic Front's “Friend Or Foe” (which some would say is like starting a test with a “gimme”), The Necros' “IQ32” and “Police Brutality” by Urban Waste. While Melvin wasn't given to singing much in the earliest days of NOFX, the overall vibe to these first three songs feels like a return, just the same; with hacking and sawing guitars, stop-and-start song dynamics and a greater focus placed on “hardcore” than on “melody,” these first three tracks could easily sit right next to The PMRC Can Suck On This and play pretty well. That impression is cemented when Burkett takes back the mic for a cover of Social Unrest's “Mental Breakdown” and acts (believably!) like the last twenty-four years never happened as he huffs, puffs and growls his way along. Just as he did back when, Burkett shreds his throat viciously through “Mental Breakdown” before he and Melvin throw the mic back and forth and trade lines through covers of D.O.A.'s “Race Riot” and Battalion Of Saints' "No More Lies."

There's no arguing that these performances are scruffy, rough and plainly recorded in a hurry but, as rough as they are, there's still a light-hearted touch and even a little silliness that shines through the run-time of NOFX' untitled EP as they simultaneously try to stump listeners and throw themselves into playing their own game of Punk Rock Karaoke. That fluffy sense of fun is the hook that will get to listeners and will leave them smiling rather than frustrated. This EP may have been designed to be frustrating or daunting and adversarial, but it ends up being as much fun for listeners to hear and play with as it clearly was for the band to make.

Track list for NOFX untitled EP (as assumed by Big Geek Bill):

1.)    “Friend Or Foe” – Agnostic Front cover
2.)    “IQ32” – The Necros cover
3.)    “Police Brutality” – Urban Waste cover
4.)    “Mental Breakdown” – Social Unrest cover
5.)    “No More Lies” – Battalion Of Saints cover
6.)    “Race Riot” – D.O.A. cover
7.)    “Say We Suck” – Sin 34 cover
8.)    “Child Hosts The Parasite” – Rebel Truth cover
9.)    “Professional Punk” – Stretch Marks cover


Further Reading:

Ground Control – NOFX discography review (Part One)  
Ground Control – NOFX discography review (Part Two)  
Ground Control – NOFX discography review (Part Three)
Ground Control – NOFX discography review (Part Four)


NOFX' untitled 10'' EP is out now. Buy it here .

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