Picture of Offspring

The Offspring

The Offspring - The Offspring ©1989 Nemesis Records
1. Jennifer Lost the War
2. Elders
3. Out on Patrol
4. Crossroads
5. Demons
6. Beheaded
7. Tehran
8. A Thousand Days
9. Blackball
10. I'll Be Waiting
11. Kill the President

Everyone knows the story of The Offspring, who toiled away for awhile in the Southern California pop punk scene before catching lightning in a bottle and soaring to stratospheric sales level with Smash. If you ask me (and I know you didn't), they deserved attention with their second album, Ignition, still one of my favorite entries into the Epitaph style of punk. However, if you dig further back in The Offspring's beginnings, you'll find they had a self titled debut from 1989 on a tiny label called Nemesis. Although it was eventually reissued after the runaway success of Smash, it is safe to say this band came from very humble beginnings. This is a roundabout way of saying the debut was just not very good.

Although some of the elements that the band used to great success later are present, they're not even close to being polished or fully realized. Guitarist "Noodles" was still working out his guitar style that we seem to refer to as "Middle Eastern" (though you won't find one iota of Muslimgauze as an influence). The rhythm section was rather clumsy at times. Vocalist Keith Holland (not known as Dexter just yet) had a high pitched wail, but not a very strong control on catchy melodies. But unlike later Offspring releases, this debut mostly lacks the extremely catchy songs that would make them famous later down the road. "Jennifer Lost the War" comes close to being enjoyable, but they drop some real blunders on their small audience, including the goofy "Beheaded".

The album, as mentioned before, was reissued by the band's pet label Nitro as a product to sell while they took some time to record the followup to Smash. The original cover art was replaced with a much more esoteric image than the silly heavy metal-esque artwork. I imagine sales were pretty strong for the reissue, but I can also imagine their fanbase scratching their heads at the somewhat inept music. Needless to say, if you're a bit more of a casual fan of The Offspring, there's really no point in buying this one.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2010

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Offspring - Ignition ©1992 Epitaph
1. Session
2. We Are One
3. Kick Him When He's Down
4. Take It Like A Man
5. Get It Right
6. Dirty Magic
7. Hypodermic
8. Burn It Up
9. No Hero
10. L.A.P.D.
11. Nothing From Something
12. Forever And A Day

In retrospect, you'd think Ignition was the album that set the stage for Offspring's sudden breakthrough to mainstream attention in 1994. Released in 1992 to a small but highly loyal little following, Ignition became a minor hit in the pop punk underground and the band enjoyed a series of successful little tours that often entertained crowds of up to five hundred people, at least on the four shows I caught in the months before Smash hit the shelves. Sadly, Ignition was in fact the album that should have been the smash hit as it is one great example of simple, but nicely executed melodic, energetic metal-tinged punk. The first four songs set a manic pace of energy and excellent, memorable melodies, insuring the listener is going to keep going with the album. While Offspring were hardly top flight musicians, particularly in the barely adequate rhythm section, they had the ability to somehow take very simple approaches and make them instantly likeable. "Kick Him When He's Down" is a phenomenally groovy song that should have been their breakthrough hit, while "Take It Like a Man" showed off their pseudo middle eastern riffing set to a frantic assault. "Dirty Magic" was one of their original "girl with issues" songs, which apparently is a standby song formula for the band. While the album starts to lose its flavor after the thrashing anger of "LAPD", Ignition still rates as a top notch record and one of the best of the pop punk realm. There was no accusations of sellout or commercialism upon its release to a very secluded audience and as a result, the refreshing attitude makes this record a winner. If one is to get a single Offspring record, Ignition is the perfect start and finish.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2000

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Offspring - Smash ©1994 Epitaph
1. Time To Relax
2. Nitro (youth Energy)
3. Bad Habit
4. Gotta Get Away
5. Genocide
6. Something To Believe In
7. Come Out And Play
8. Self Esteem
9. It'll Be A Long Time
10. Killboy Powerhead
11. What Happened To You?
12. So Alone
13. Not The One
14. Smash

More mediocre derivative punk with occasional shining moments. Forget the songs you heard a million times on the radio. That's what CD programming is all about. "What Happened to You" (the hip & trendy ska-punk song for the 90's), "Genocide", and "It'll Be a Long Time" are the few standouts here. Everything else is just plain ol' so-so and nothing more. (Or worse...I thought "Self Esteem" was a terrible song both lyrically and musically, yet it became a hit. Makes me glad I don't follow the mainstream much.)

Now on to the soapbox. Since this record hit the bigtime, the rallying cry of Offspring sucks or Offspring isn't true punks or Offspring sold out became one of the most popular mantras of elitist punks and music critics alike. Sure, these guys aren't the hardest band in the world, but that's a needless point. When the band wrote this album, they were still touring little dingy clubs (I should know, I saw them four times in the months before this album was released) and slugging it out like the rest of their brethen. At the time, Epitaph was just another punk label, albeit a little more well-run than most. It was entirely a fluke that "Come out and play" became popular and the band skyrocketed. They were just along for the ride. There's bascially nothing different about their music than when they started, aside from a little refining. While a lot of people ended up jumping on the Offspring bandwagon just to listen to the "cool" music, it became just as trendy to diss the band. It's that kind of sheep mentality that bothers me. Judge the music on whether it's good, not on sales or popularity.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1997

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Ixnay On The Hombre

Offspring - Ixnay On The Hombre ©1997 Columbia
1. Disclaimer
2. The Meaning Of Life
3. Mota
4. Me & My Old Lady
5. Cool To Hate
6. Leave It Behind
7. Gone Away
8. I Choose
9. Intermission
10. All I Want
11. Way Down The Line
12. Don't Pick It Up
13. Amazed
14. Change The World

After the unexpected success of 1994's Smash, the Offspring did very little to dispell the critics who called them "sellouts". Their runaway hit machine story of 1994 was indeed a stroke of luck rather than a series of calculated moves on their part to manipulate the record buying public. Moreover, they were on a label, Epitaph, that somehow managed to keep up with the unreal demand for the record. But in the years following the album's release, the band somehow decided to leave the noted independent label. According to some on the inside, the Offspring felt that Epitaph was being run too much like a major label. So why on earth did they sign to Columbia? Did they feel that label was the second coming of SST? And considering how well Epitaph kept up with distribution and production of Smash as well as garnishing MTV time, what exactly was a major label going to do for the Offspring that Epitaph couldn't?

The upshot of the story is that the Offspring took nearly three years to release a followup to Smash. Ixnay on the Hombre was released in 1997 when a lot of people had started to forget about the band. The most notable thing about the Offspring is not that they do anything innovative, but that they have the knack for writing catchy songs. As musicians, they're adequate for their purpose, but nothing that will have Shrapnel Records calling up to beg Noodles to write a shred album. So as a result, the Offspring's critical success from album to album depends on exactly how many songs they can churn out that stick to your cranium like so many alien brainsucker parasites. Ixnay on the Hombre, compared to other Offspring records, is distinctly lacking. Given the fact the band had several years to come up with material shows they weren't concentrating on just jamming and writing fun songs. One almost gets the feeling the band tried to imitate Smash as a couple songs too closely follow tunes from its predecessor. The sense that the music is a bit lifeless prevails. The Offspring was indeed a pop band that played a punky style, but they were far from profound.

On the flipside, Ixnay on the Hombre isn't terrible either. The band did open itself up to more criticism by abandoning the record label that helped them reach their improbable success. Even having Jello Biafra participate on the album's intro track didn't really endear themselves to the punk community. The album seemed uninspired, forced and by the numbers. The Offspring was still capable of coming up with fun, vacuous music, but not in much quantity on this release.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2002

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Offspring - Americana ©1998 Columbia
1. Welcome
2. Have You Ever
3. Staring At The Sun
4. Pretty Fly (for A White Guy)
5. The Kids Aren't Alright
6. Feelings
7. She's Got Issues
8. Walla Walla
9. The End Of The Line
10. No Brakes
11. Why Don't You Get A Job?
12. Americana
13. Pay The Man

Yep. They're still around, long after the pop punk fad died down and it looks as though the unexpected beneficiaries of the 1994 Green Day phenomema aren't going to go away any time soon. And what's more remarkable is that the Offspring is still playing a sound not too far removed from 1992's Ignition. Perhaps the only thing that has truly changed for the band over the course of the decade is that their name is tacked on by underground scenesters who attack other listeners for liking "mainstream garbage like Green Day, Limp Bizkit and Offspring". But frankly the only way to gauge this band's success is by Weird Al doing a parody of "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)". So yes, these SoCal good time boys have indeed hit the true bigtime now.

As an aside from all the mainstream circus and fluff, Americana is actually one of those lightweight albums that will never change the face of the planet but darn it if it isn't a good, fun listen. From the time I first heard the band in 1993 when my college roommate's band opened for the Offspring in a warehouse in Flagstaff, Arizona, to now, not a whole lot has changed for the Offspring's sound. It's still that upbeat, high energy rock with the SoCal pop punk tinge to it. Sure, the band throws a few little trinkets into the mix, but nothing that strays very far from where they originated. I actually have to commend the band for taking on white boys wanting to be something they are not in "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)", a scathing but amusing satire of wannabees and "whiggers". "She's Got Issues" is essentially a rewrite of their hit "Self-Esteem", which more or less eliminates its usefulness. "The Kids aren't Alright" is a fast paced anthemic number which this band has always had a strong feel for. "Why Don't You Get a Job" is that radio hit that lets the band again offer a tongue in cheek view on leechy relationships.

Overall, Americana is one of those albums that is being overplayed on the radio but still is catchy as hell. The Offspring will never revolutionize music, but there is something quite reassuring that their fun, upbeat music with heaps of blandly satirical lyrics is still around.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2000

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Conspiracy Of One

Offspring - Conspiracy Of One ©2000 Columbia
1. Intro
2. Come Out Swinging
3. Original Prankster
4. Want You Band
5. Million Miles Away
6. Dammit, I Changed Again
7. Living In Chaos
8. Special Delivery
9. One Fine Day
10. All Along
11. Denial, Revisited
12. Vultures
13. Conspiracy Of One

By the year 2000, one can safely assume that if the Offspring haven't broken out of their songwriting formula, they probably never will. Having gone through the decade as one of the luckiest bands alive and benefitting from Green Day's decision to become a major label lackey, the Offspring, the Offspring has somehow shed off the shackles of a possible one-hit wonder status and gone on to provide the world with several albums of their "aw shucks, we're just goofy white guys playing punk" music. And while every album isn't necessarily the greatest thing since the bra-burning era of the 70s (which, of course, is a trend that needs to cycle back through), the band has also managed to squeak out at least a handful of fun tunes on each release.

Conspiracy of One is more proof that while the Offspring certainly won't win awards for Progressive Rock Wow-ness, it has enough catchy songs to hold its own. It's not the band's best work nor is it completely consistent, but it's the type of CD that is a good time when you're not in the mood for something mentally taxing. While the band is sticking to their basic fast paced metal-tinged pop punk, there are hints of trying to show a horizon can be broadened in their rehearsal studio. Mind you, the horizon wasn't broadened very far, but at least a casual listener can differentiate between songs. You can't say that for many of their contemporaries who play very slovenly, lame three chord "punk".

The Offspring has truly turned into a pop band, albeit with a hard edge. Fortunately, like classic pop bands before them that rise above the bubblegum aspect of popular music, the Offspring does pop right. There's something about their attitude (the one that says, "C'mon, we're beach bums with goofy smiles, how can you really hate us?") and ability to write enough catchy songs per album to make them stick around. I should hate this band, but they really are too much of a good time.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2002

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