There was a time when, as Spin once postulated, the Offspring and Green Day were poised to assume the mantles as the Rolling Stones and Beatles of punk rock. We could spend all day retrospectively barfing over that notion, or we could simply dwell on the obvious: The Offspring would have been a serviceably mangy Orange County pop-punk rottweiler were it not . . . for the (starting to hyperventilate) . . . fucking . . . novelty . . . songs! The shrill would-be hip-hop satires "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)" and "Original Prankster" made Sublime look like Public Enemy. Predictably, there are four such nightmares on Splinter, but only the ska-tinged "The Worst Hangover Ever" is worth suicide bombing over. Otherwise, Dexter Holland breaks his usual amount of glass caterwauling about his no-good cheating girlfriend ("Spare Me the Details"), teenage parenthood ("Hit That"), and—tee hee—the poop chute ("When You're in Prison"). The few specks of earnest creativity—namely the introductory helicopter blade churn of "Lightning Rod"—quickly succumb to the same old Epitaph double-time blueprint. Like their contemporaries in No Doubt, guitarist Noodles Wasserman and bassist Greg K. are progressively phasing out their own instruments in favor of hurling everything but didgeridoo into the mix to keep this crap "fresh." The only remotely compelling cut is the three-chord, sub-two-minute scissors fight "Da Hui," about hard-ass Hawaiian North Shore surfers, presumably the kind that Anthony Kiedis immortalized in Point Break. Come to think of it, the Chilis are overdue to take these guys on tour . . . right into a tsunami, let's hope. ANDREW BONAZELLI
The Offspring play the Premier (1700 First Ave. S., 206-628-0888) with the (International) Noise Conspiracy and the State at 8 p.m. Sun., April 11. $25.
If you're the type that believes minimalist art was meant for the cold gaping spaces of bank lobbies and civic plazas, then the Necks' sly, funky brand of sonic minimalism might change your ideas about this usually standoffish aesthetic. Their approach is spectral—part jazz, part soundtrack music, part R&B, part New Age—befitting the diverse musical pedigrees of fortysomething Aussies who have individually performed or recorded with the likes of Nat Adderly, the Triffids, Sting, and Keiji Haino. The single, 60-minute-long track on Drive By seems impossibly short once you've experienced it. Drummer Tony Buck, pianist Chris Abrahams, and bassist Lloyd Swanton unravel one idea at a time—the static, Philip Glass–like vibraphone ostinato that begins the album gives way to an impressionistic McCoy Tyner–like piano theme as the piece builds to a muted kinetic groove like something from Booker T. & the M.G.'s' Uptight soundtrack. Ethereal cricket sounds and playground noise tease their way into the mix, and at about the halfway mark the underlying pulse diffuses into a cloud of percussion and organ tremor reminiscent of Miles Davis' early-'70s album sides. Slowly unveiling a universe of sound, thought, and feeling lying beneath its surface, Drive By not only requires but inspires multiple listenings—I listened to it twice in a row the first time. Hallucinatory and completely enthralling, it's minimalism to the max. J. NIIMI
Make Yr Life
"Am I bound by my neuroses to never push beyond?" rambles Butchies singer/guitarist Kaia Wilson on the title track to her band's fourth album, and the answer is no. After three albums with Mr. Lady Records, the Butchies are calling Yep Roc home. Wilson split with her Mr. Lady co-founder (and partner), and hit the ground running. Though the music doesn't ride the corners as hard as it did on the Butchies' previous release, 3, hooks were never really the band's focal point. Regardless of Wilson's cranky, buzzing rock riffs and the pop-punch drumming of Melissa York, it's the sweet sea-breeze choruses with Wilson's airy, standing-on-tippy-toe vocals, lovingly harmonized by bassist Alison Martlew, that really stick—that, and the fact that Wilson's a regular Independent Woman. On the breakup song, "Second Guess," Wilson declares, "I am exactly what I want," before drifting into a dramatically drawn-out chorus of "I don't need you anymore." Songs to her new lady reek of wonderment and rambunctious adoration. On the hot, flirty "Send Me You," Wilson gasps, "I just want pleasure." Yeah, right. That sentiment is followed shortly by "I just wanna get this you right." Wilson would rather finesse her way into her new girl's heart than just tap that ass, and what better way than with a cover of the Outfield's "Your Love"? It's sparse, naked, and sexy—like grazing your lips across the nape of your crush's neck. Inaugural lesbian sex has found its song of the year. JEANNE FURY