Paint it Black [I]New Lexicon[/I] Review

In the world of hardcore punk there is nary a person so forward thinking as Dan Yemin. This thought applies to all aspects of his band Paint it Black: presentation, politics, and, as highlighted on New Lexicon, production. During an interview I held with Yemin, he pointed to hip-hop as an inspiration to keep things fresh and inventive, stating “The best underground MC’s are pushing the limits way more than underground rock bands are pushing the boundaries in their respective genres.” Keeping that in mind, Yemin and crew recruited Oktopus, producer from the avant-garde hip-hop group Dälek, to add some sonic rendering and post-production nuances for an overall denser sound to songs already thick. Those fearing collaboration akin to the Judgment Night soundtrack worry not. This is a hardcore punk album. Period. But the sonic tinkering, as it’s called in the liner notes, fills the spaces between the quaking bass and hi-hat crashes, giving the album an eerie feel, like a battlefield after the war, the settling of souls after an epoch of chaos. The overall atmosphere is unsettling, and for good reason. This record, like any essential hardcore punk album, is a reflection of the current state of affairs.

But it’s the chaos that makes New Lexicon stand out against the endless crop of hardcore punk records released every month, so thoroughly channeled yet so volatile. The tempo of the songs range from slighter faster than mid-tempo to damn near blast beat, giving the feeling of instability. But every move is measured precisely The moment the songs start to sound safe and marketable, thanks to harmony vocals and elaborate melodies, they shift to pummeling rhythms sections, frenzied guitars, and changing tempos all inside the space of ninety seconds, redefining what both brevity and brutality can mean. The production is cleaner than most records for a band of this sound, but the instruments still sound raw and searing, enough to leave you wincing, holding your ears.

The lyrics are at their most dynamic, more cutting and unforgiving than anything shouted from Yemin’s mouth. And who might be on the receiving end? Every oppressive force in the world today: commerce, religion, and worst of all, ourselves. Intertwined, these factors, among others, have stirred the American public into states of neuroses and obedience. As Yemin shouts on “White Kids Dying of Hunger,” “I won’t sleep at all tonight. I’m not alright. And you’re too fucking polite.” Organized religion takes a bulk of the hits, but they aren’t an attack so much as they are a proclamation of secession. “Past Tense, Future Perfect” sums this up bluntly with the lyrics, “You said ?°»God’s got it in for you. You’re fucked,’ but I don’t believe in him” and “God can’t touch us now; we’re out of his jurisdiction.”

New Lexicon, like all the other Paint it Black releases, is another handful of songs that are intended to raise your awareness of the world around you, to take a more active stance in a life that is, very realistically, controlled by extrinsic influences. It asks questions we all need to hear. “What will it take to wake you up? What will it take to fucking shake you up?”

Paint it Black [I]New Lexicon[/I] Review

THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND

’Twas the eve of Valentine’s Day and the breast of the crisp night air heaved lustily with love. And if you were anywhere near Stardust Video & Coffee, that love sounded pretty fucked up. That’s right, my babies, it’s that time of year again when noise music invades Florida. The annual International Noise Conference went down in Miami over the weekend and Stardust hosted one of this year’s preshows. Wow, what a holy racket.

Y’know those disagreeable inadvertent sounds like feedback and static that occur when someone does something wrong during soundcheck? Well, imagine taking those sounds and stretching them into entire compositions. Voilà! Noise. It’s definitely not for everybody. This is experimental art in some of its purest forms. With an anything-goes aesthetic, noise is an impressionistic, often terroristic, construct of dissonance and atonality.

To call it music would be to indulge in some rather liberal semantic gymnastics. That also means it can sometimes be bullshit. Noise disciples would argue, no doubt, that such a stance could only be held by subscribers to the dogma of music and that, as open defiance to musical convention, noise is a statement of sonic anarchism. For the record I firmly believe this, even during each of the many times I’ve seen a crap-ass noise act. But frankly, my sympathy for that sentiment evaporates in a snap of the fingers as soon as I feel like I’m being jived by a knob-twiddler without a point.

The last pre-INC show I attended was a couple of years ago at Austin Coffee and Film; it was intriguing, but the only acts that brought home the bacon were the ones that incorporated some sort of physical performance art into their show (e.g. physically binding the audience together with packing tape, like L.A.’s Brian Miller and Kevin Shields did ?°¦ no, not thee Kevin Shields).

This year, however, there was a marked difference. Besides the logical increase in crust-punk participation, the performances had much more aim, force and physicality, even resulting in some thrashing and knocked-over furniture. Yep, right up my alley. Nothing was orthodox enough to even approach the rock tag, but it was visceral and, more importantly, cogent. And with Stardust’s new, spacious layout, this was a nonstop, more navigable event with two stages and film playing out in the parking lot.

Feb. 15 at the Social was the type of bill that tickles me: diverse, talented and local. One welcome revelation was new local band The Future on Films in Space. Evoking all the auditory and visual ephemera of the ’60s underground, their cerebral, psychedelic set was transporting. Mark it now: Orlando’s constellation has a new star.

Backpacker S.K.I.P. showed that his rap game is evolving in more organic directions. Performing with a full band and actually playing some instruments himself, he’s clearly giving deeper thought to the actual music that robes his rhymes. Hopefully the band setup is common practice in his live shows from now on, because it really makes his songs come alive.

Closing out the night, headliners Summerbirds in the Cellar proved yet again why they’re the reigning great white hope of Orlando indie rock. Personally, I couldn’t think of more worthy ambassadors of our scene.

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• Fight Amp Hungry for Nothing (Translation Loss) This New Jersey outfit isn’t on the AmRep label but, with all the vile glory of their dirty, dangerous noise-rock, they sure as shit should be.

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Paint it Black [I]New Lexicon[/I] Review

God bless Dan Yemin. The only real criticism that could be leveled against one of the most important and influential figures in modern hardcore is that his career hasn’t been as diverse and groundbreaking as his most direct predecessor — Walter Schreifels (Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, Rival Schools, roughly 14 billion other projects). However, Yemin took a distinct guitar tone and style from Schreifels on Start Today, perfected and popularized it, and the punk rock copycats consequently came in droves.

And now, with the third full-length from Yemin’s most aggressive unit yet, Paint It Black, he’s actually attempting a mild reinvention of his own. The aforementioned guitar tone laid a rather strong foundation for some of Yemin’s most impressive albums (Jersey’s Best Dancers, both Kid Dynamite albums, Paradise). However, on New Lexicon Yemin’s attempted a new foundation: not only a heavily bassy tone to his band’s brand of classically styled hardcore, but a vibe that’s even more unsettling with the tinge of industrial noise from co-producer Oktopus (of hip-hop duo Dälek). With a little assistance lent from a bass-boosting stereo, New Lexicon largely seems to achieve the former, and Oktopus’s creepy atmosphere pinches tracks like "We Will Not," "Severance" and "White Kids Dying of Hunger," helping bring the latter to life. Granted, Lexicon doesn’t always bear the throbbing low end Yemin’s intended, but the album would probably be a bit overwhelming if it was always bellowing so much.

Clearly, Yemin’s taste for underground hip-hop has affected his lyrics in a positive and striking way (he reviews such albums for a local Philadelphia zine). The influence is immediately stark, as it paints the initial lines of opener "The Ledge": "He says he wants to get better / but first he has to get a little sicker. / He holds his tongue like he holds his liquor. / Too young to call it quits. / Too old to settle for nostalgia, so he settles for this." His voice is as sincerely angry and outraged as he’s been, too; you can practically feel the spit awkwardly hitting your face.

Musically, Paint It Black pull from both their albums for the usual half-hour rage. (Of course, it should be noted that the album does actually reach a half-hour this time around, but that’s likely helped by Oktopus’s interludes.) The raw fury of CVA is commonplace, but so is the shockingly melodic and upbeat twists and turns offered in "Past Tense, Future Perfect," or the absolutely raging and dynamic "White Kids Dying of Hunger." In "Past Tense," you never see the hopeful backup cry or eager guitar riff coming, and surprises like these are as pleasant as possible. There’s a bone-chilling moment in "New Folk Song" where a "whooooa-uhh-ohhh" erupts, the climate changes and Yemin then earnestly growls "we don’t know what we are / but we’re sure of what we’re not." A swelling nature in "The Beekeeper" changes directions at points thought to be impassable, with a riff oddly reminiscent of Modern Life Is War and Yemin coyly remarking "Out of step? Yeah, I know what that feels like" before the band burst out with the song’s anthemic, closing climax: "Live fast, but don’t die young. / Slow down, but never, ever, stop." Continuing the spirit of obvious `80s hardcore references, "Check Yr Math" seems to soundcheck "Rise Above" for a hot second.

New Lexicon doesn’t quite hit as consistently hard as Paradise, nor can its best moments match up with the incredible anthems of the latter. Still, trying to dismiss New Lexicon as anything less than accomplished, dynamic and fully engaging is futile. Almost 20 years after a barefoot Dan Yemin began jumping around in basements with a guitar in hand and a "GO!" primed for encouragement, he’s somehow produced another instant near-classic that really does attempt to expand hardcore’s vocabulary in more ways than one.

Paint it Black [I]New Lexicon[/I] Review

Release Date: Out Now
Label: Reflections
Rating: (8)

First things first, history lesson. Paint It Black is fronted by a man called Dan Yemin, he played in seminal groups like Lifetime and Kid Dynamite, bands that inspired members of Thursday, My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday, Midtown and Saves The Day to form bands (yeah, blame him). After Kid Dynamite broke up he suffered a stroke, instead of giving up on music he formed Paint It Black and then eventually reformed Lifetime – all while gaining qualifications in clinical psychology and then pursuing the profession in Philadelphia. In short, homeboy is a legend. A busy legend at that. With that out the way let us turn our ears to the band’s third album, ?°»New Lexicon’, a rollercoaster of 15 slices of punk rock delivered in 30 minutes flat. This album is possibly Paint It Black’s best yet, perhaps due to the added influence of dälek producer Oktopus alongside the production mainstay J Robbins, or perhaps because the band simply got better at doing what they do. Either way, it is another career highlight from a man who did more for modern rock than he ever meant to, cared to or wanted to.
FOR FANS OF: Lifetime, Jawbox, The Explosion

Third time’s a charm for Paint It Black

Third albums are not places in which hardcore bands normally thrive. In fact, 90 percent of hardcore bands don’t even make it to the third record. Half of the remaining bands that make it there do not do so until after the reunion tour, and half of the remaining half inevitably turn out a piece of work that alienates their fan-base by either sounding exactly the same as they did before, or by massively deviating from their old sound. It’s a fine line for even the most-seasoned of veteran bands.

Paint it Black’s mastermind, Dr. Dan Yemin (seriously, the guy has his PhD. in child psychology), is not just any hardcore veteran, however. Prior to starting Paint it Black in 2002, Yemin was the creative force behind Philadelphia hardcore legends Lifetime and Kid Dynamite, but he didn’t make it to a proper third record with either act (although Lifetime did release a third album last year, but it was ten years after their break-up). Paint it Black is Yemin’s band as he serves as the principal songwriter, vocalist and occasional guitarist, enabling him to assert more control over the sound and feel of the band than he ever could in Lifetime, Kid Dynamite or Armalite, his short lived collaboration with Atom Goren of Atom and His Package.

The band’s 2003 debut clocked 17 tracks in under 19 minutes, and was lauded as one of the best, straightforward hardcore records of the 21st century. 2005′s "Paradise" destroyed any notions of a sophomore slump, and managed to take a few big chances with the traditional hardcore formula the band had become affiliated with. The band’s latest record, "New Lexicon," continues in the tradition of its predecessor, and pushes the stagnating genre to the brink of recognition.

"New Lexicon" is angry in a way few records are, but it’s not without a reason. Throughout the course of the record, Yemin rages against the injustices of organized religion, the nation’s troubled political climate and the general apathy of today’s youth. Yemin’s lyrics are short, sharp and hit like a ton of bricks. Lines like, "God can’t touch us now / We’re out of his jurisdiction" are some of the most poignant and hard-hitting lyrics that hardcore has ever offered, and Yemin’s voice, a combination of Henry Rollins in his heyday and Rob Wright of NoMeansNo fame, tears through every song with a painful conviction.

Yemin isn’t the only star of the show this time around, though. Bored with the unremarkable production normally seen in punk documents, Yemin enlisted the help of The Oktopus, the critically acclaimed producer for hip-hop/shoegaze/industrial/metal group, Dalek. The production is really what makes this album so daring in terms of hardcore. Underneath the pummeling drumwork and frenetic guitars are approximately 53 layers of dense, atmospheric, electronic noise swelling under every note. The complex production adds a completely new dimension to songs like "Gravity Wins" and "So Much for Honour Among Thieves," which are strong songs to begin with. Despite all the studio-based production, the record still sounds more live than a lot of the punk rock listeners are likely to hear today.
The record really finds its strength in the opening and closing tracks. The one-two punch of "The Ledge" and "Four Deadly Venoms" stands tall with past Yemin openers like "Turnpike Gates" into "Young, Loud, & Scotty" from Lifetime’s sophomore effort, "Jersey’s Best Dancers" or "Pause" into "K05-0564" from Kid Dynamite’s self-titled debut. "The Ledge" bursts out of the gate amidst a cloud of feedback and white noise before closing out with a pogo-worthy breakdown that almost sounds like vintage Joy Division. Just when fans think they’ve had a moment to breathe, "Four Deadly Venoms" pulls them back in with a loaded chorus comprised of the singular line, "I’ve got a chronic defect in my head." The chorus is only one of the moments in the record where you swear you can feel Dan Yemin’s spit hitting you in the face.

The crowning jewel to the record is the album’s closer, "Shell Game Redux," which is greatly reminiscent of the "Paradise" closer, "Memorial Day." The build-up to the end of the song at about the 1:15-mark will have one cowering in fear of what’s to come, and once it gives way to the outro’s truly epic "whoa-ohs," it’s clear that what was just heard will almost definitely become a landmark record in the evolution of hardcore music, bridging the gap between the old school and modern technology, giving birth to an entirely different kind of sound that will likely go unrivaled for years. Or until Paint it Black drops album number four.

Paint It Black (Dan Yemin) [I]Interview[/I]

Most business folk live and die by the resume. But punk rock kids? Hardcore kids and real music fans? They don’t give a shit about who you know or how much vinyl you own – unless, of course, you reach idol status. Then, it’s all about the resume. It’s all about where you’ve been and what you’ve done, because that’s when kids say, hey, this one matters. This one made a difference. And this is where Dan Yemin, singer for Paint It Black, guitarist for Lifetime and previously Kid Dynamite, strolls into the picture. Thank you to Dan for answering questions and thank you to Derek from Solid PR hooking this up.

Ok, first of all, hello Dan! Great to hear from you, and thanks so much for doing this. I should also mention that a good bunch of these questions are from one of our users – RyanFTW is his username – who is a big fan of yours.

Let’s start off with your name and what you do in Paint It Black, just for the record.

Dan: My name is Dan, and I “sing” for Paint It Black.

I think we should start with New Lexicon. What do you want your listeners to walk away with after they listen to the album?

Dan: I would hope that they feel excited by the music and inspired or empowered by the lyrics. That might be a lofty aspiration, but I think music has the power to empower people to make changes in their lives, and to get through difficult times in their lives. It’s done that for me over the years, and I hope I can return the favor in some way. I hope that people feel like the album stands out, both in terms of sound and content. Ideally, I hope that people put it on in their car or in their bedroom, crank it really loud and be blown away. After the initial impact, I hope people listen to it on headphones and appreciate the texture and density of the recording.

Which of these new songs are you looking forward to playing the most?

Dan: I like playing “White Kids Dying of Hunger”. That drum break at the end just gets me so stoked.

How did you manage to hook up with Jeff Pezzati? ("Shell Game Redux" is a beast of a song, by the way).

Dan: First, let me way that we are HUGE Naked Raygun fans. They are hands down one of the most exciting and influential US bands that were making music in the 80’s. I wrote that anthem part at the end, and then the guys sort of re-arranged it for maximum impact. We always joked about having Pezzati sing it, and one day I just thought, “Maybe we could actually make it happen…” In addition to Naked Raygun, Jeff is also in a band called The Bomb, and J. Robbins, who produced Paradise and co-produced New Lexicon, also produced their record. I’ve also known The Bomb’s guitarist, Jeff Dean, for like 15 years. He was the first kid I ever knew to get a Lifetime tattoo. I called both Jeff D. and J. and asked about the possibility of Pezzati singing, and a couple of days later, he got in touch with me. The logistics were fairly easy. Josh recorded the vocal part as a reference for Pezzati, and we were able to email the song to friends in Chicago as data files so Pezzati could record vocals. Technology, man…

How easy (or hard) was this record to write in comparison to CVA and Paradise?

Dan: In some ways it was a little bit more difficult because there were several times when I thought I was finished, and then there would be this nagging thought that something was missing, and it was back to the drawing board. In terms of arrangement and rehearsal, things were much easier. The current lineup of P.I.B. has an amazing work ethic, and I was able to let go of the songs to a greater extent, so I could back off and let Andy, Josh, and Jared handle the arrangements. Lyrics and vocal cadences are always the hardest part, because compared to writing on guitar or bass, its a relatively new form for me. I’m definitely getting more comfortable with it, and I’m really really proud of the lyrics. I got to have a lot more fun with language.

Why have Oktopus handle the mixing?

Dan: Have you heard Dalek’s albums? They’re heavy and apocalyptic. We figured having him do post-production and mixing would be a really exciting way to challenge the traditional hardcore punk format. The songs are heavy live, but on the record the songs take on another dimension. There are layers of sound underneath the drums, bass, and guitar, those layers are made up of manipulated and transposed samples of our source material, field recordings, tape loops, and some string section samples. I still hear something different every time I listen, especially on headphones.

The music blogsphere is calling for a revival of vinyl and an increase of vinyl sales for 2008? What are your thoughts on this?

Dan: Awesome. Vinyl rules. It sounds better, and adds a tactile element to music ownership. Plus the art is normal size instead of shrunk down. CD’s are a dead scene, man. Destroy that shit system.

Kid Dynamite, Lifetime, Paint It Black … Three great, hugely influential bands. What are some of the most poignant moments of your music career?

Dan: Too many to mention. But overall, touring, meeting new people, and getting personal feedback from people about the impact the music has had on them. It’s really gratifying when people take the time to write or email or come up to us at a show and share that with us. It’s the ultimate feeling of success. Also, I feel embarrassed to admit this, but there’s a little too much ego wrapped in making music for me. Sometimes, certain reviews have really excited me over the years: a review of Lifetime’s Tinnitus in HeartAttack that started with the words “holy shit”. Or when Hello Bastards was on most of the writers annual tip ten lists in Punk Planet. Or when WKDU in Philly played the Kid Dynamite album in its entirety twice back to back. When Paradise was album of the year on Punk News and Paste Punk. I always sucked at sports, so those experiences are my trophies.

What is your favorite local venue? How important do you regard local venues to Paint It Black, or any music venture you’ve been involved in? As the context and attitude of music changes, how do local venues change?

Dan: The First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. It’s my favorite place to play, and with only a few brief interruptions, its been a constant for for us here for the past 14 years. I’m so proud of this scene. It took on Clear Channel (giant mega-corporation that owns concert venues, radio station, and billboards, and have a serious right wing, pro-war bias) in this modern David vs. Goliath tale, and emerged with only minor injuries. Paint It Black won’t play Clear Channel shows, so local independent or DIY venues are important to us for so many reasons, both practical and political. Punk shows have gotten increasingly business oriented, and we lose something in the translation when that happens.

Do you have any other touring plans lined up other than the dates in March?

Dan: Definitely. We’ll be hitting the West Coast, and parts of the Midwest, Texas, and Florida. And definitely Europe in the summer. Keep your eyes open and you’ll find us. You may have to take a little road trip and meet us halfway, but we’ll definitely get the chance to see each other.

What do you think of a lot of underground legends (American Steel, Face to Face, Hot Water Music) getting back together? Do you think the music community needs these bands to be around? On a related note, what band(s) would like to see a reunion from?

Dan: I have an obvious bias here because of Lifetime. I’ve definitely changed my tune over the years on this issue. I used to think that reunions shifted a musician’s focus from present to past, but I’ve found that doesn’t have to be the case. As long as bands aren’t exploiting us, they should do whatever they want. In general, I think we need new bands more than we need old bands…

Let’s talk about the word "underground." It used to be a defining factor in punk and hardcore genres, and now it operates in a gray area. With the Internet as a major promotional vehicle, is the word "underground" still applicable? Are you happy where underground music is now?

Dan: I think that the underground is just further underground. There’s mainstream, then there’s a big gray area where mainstream and underground overlap. I’m sure that the reality is much more complex and nuanced, but you sometimes you need to oversimplify things to explain them when you have limited space. As an example though, My Chemical Romance is mainstream, Rise Against or Comeback Kid is in that gray area, Tragedy is underground.

Do you employ any tricks to maintain or protect your voice? If so, what are they?

Dan: Clean Living…

Is it hard to balance being involved in so many projects? AND you’re a teen psychologist. How do you find time to do everything?! Can you teleport? If so, please teach us.

Dan: I’ve mastered the art of overextending myself. Also, I have a clone. It gets confusing sometimes.

Your list of accomplishes is inspiring. What other sorts of things do you hope to do one day? Sky-diving? Release a techno record? Run for office?

Dan: Man, you’ve gotta stop flattering me. I’m blushing. I want to keep making records and helping people overcome obstacles. I want to make my wife happy and have a baby. I want it all.

That’s all I have! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, and best of luck in everything. Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

Dan: Thank you for the support. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart.

Vinyl File: Interview with Andy Nelson of Paint It Black

THE VINYL FILE SPOTLIGHT Paint It Black

So what do you do when you’re not playing in bands?

I book shows with R5 in Philly and I do independent freelance design. Lately it’s been me cooped up in my house and leaving to work a show or do a show. It allows me to take time off to tour, but lately I have been really bored. I should just go get a job for something to do. It’s funny, I never thought I would be in the position where I am so bored I would want to work.

How is life in Philadelphia in general?

It is very cold and dreary. It gets the brunt of the worst weather on either side of the country. In the summer you have 8 months of the most horrible, hot, humid, sweaty weather and in the winter it’s the coldest, windiest place that you can imagine. It makes people angry and expands the idea of what a hostile place it is. It’s a hostile and violent city to begin with, and with the cold and heat on top it people are completely insane. But I love Philadelphia, it is where I am from and I have lived here my entire life. I spend time on the West coast and I like LA and San Francisco, but as far as the East coast goes, it is really affordable and there is a lot of crazy stuff that happens in the art world. I think we have one of the best independent music scenes of anywhere I have been in the entire world, I consider myself lucky in that respect.

Following a brief discussion about Fredericton, New Brunswick and Fugazi’s show there in 1998, helping to breath more life into the city’s music scene.

Fugazi is a band that I miss dearly in that regard. They were a shining example. No bands nowadays prove that you can do things like that, DIY. They were a band that did everything right and by the nature of existing did a lot. It’s like people talking about Black Flag in the ’80s. They go through Delaware in the ’80s and now there’s a punk scene. Like the Ramones playing LA in. I think it’s really easy to live as a consumer, which is ironic because we are going to talk about consuming vinyl, but you start living as a consumer and not a producer, but it is always better if it comes in the form of an incredible band. Sometimes you just need that little push, "you can do this too." That happened to me when I was a youngin, I went from a kid who casually bought records and went to shows to being like "fuck yeah, I have to get into this."

I had a chance to see Paint it Black for the first time at the Fest this year, that was a crazy show.
We had such an amazing show at the fest. The house show is the kind of example where two or three years ago we wouldn’t have done it, but now it’s like fuck it, lets go play a house. We always seem to get into these situations where we play after Municipal Waste, which is the hardest thing to do. We ended up playing after them in Manchester, England. We’re friends with them, I’ve known them forever, so it was great to be 4,000 miles from home and hanging out. But they refuse to play last. And I am like, "You realize that you are the band that gets the craziest reaction of any band." They did it at the Fest too, what shit luck, but those shows were great, Gainesville is inspiring. We’ve never played there outside of the Fest, but I believe that it is a great place for punk only because the people that I know there, like the Hot Water Music guys and No Idea guys, but I’m sure with The Fest that you get a bunch of people that come in from far away and make it more exciting than it is normally.

What are you looking forward to with Paint it Black now?

It’s weird, obviously I am completely excited about it and half of what I do all day is in preparation of the coming year of shows. It’s strange because we took a different approach in terms of this record and the release of it. We did a weekend of release shows in Philly and months and months ago, in the summer, we sat down with Jade Tree and talked about the idea of release dates in 2007/08 and how they are nothing, meaningless. My major problem with downloading music is not a financial one. A lot of bands get in this position where they are counting the dollars they should be making. Personally, I don’t give a fuck about that. For me it is about the experience of it and the shared camaraderie it can bring. My main beef with it is the way people experience music nowadays is so weird. You download a record for free weeks before it is available in the store. You might listen to the first couple songs of it on your shitty little laptop speakers while you MSN someone and you move onto the next thing that you download for free the next day. All of us in Paint it Black download music to a certain degree. But I also spend every dollar I make on records. We’re not holier than thou and won’t hate on anyone for downloading the record, but you put years of effort into making the record and that’s the attention it gets. We wanted to really create or curate a more organic experience, the way it was when we were kids. You go to this great show, see a band, hear the songs, pick up the new record and listen to it on the way home in the car – that’s the first time you hear it, sitting by the stereo. That’s the whole idea of behind it.

Basically the record has been out since the beginning of January, and we succeeded with not letting it leak until then. The only way you could get it was from us handing it to you. I think people are slowly hearing, it’s not like in years past where it is building up to one date. We are pushing it in a long-term fashion. I think it’s exciting – we put a lot of time and effort into this record. The people that have heard it so far seem to get it. The response so far has been great. It will be on vinyl, the preferred format, soon and the CD comes out pretty soon, too.

People who went to your record release shows got a free 7” – Goliath. What was the idea behind doing that?

I am really into and have always been into collecting records. Ever since I was in high school I have been into Japanese hardcore and punk, but I don’t know about bands in America doing it, but in Japan I know a lot of bands had gig-only records that you can buy at shows or one show. I always thought that was a cool idea because it forced people to come talk to you at a show, even if it is just coming up to say ?°»Hello, I would like to get this record.’ Nowadays I think it is really easy to sit behind your computer all day and Paypal people and have records show up. There is no connection there.

We have never done a 7" before, we’ve just been a band that has made albums. We decided after the third album we were just going to do 7"s. that’s what is on the horizon for us. But we had this idea to do a limited gig-only 7" and the idea came together to also give the CD to everybody. We had the songs left over from the recording sessions and we all like the songs, but in sequencing the record we couldn’t find a place for it, I am really anal in making sure the record feels tight. So it was one of those things where we just shot the shit and we just did it. I have to give some props. The idea of the vinyl and the clear sides came from Look Back and Laugh. They put out a record last year that was a one sided 12" that has a screened b-side and is the craziest thing, it is wild looking, so fucking cool. Ours doesn’t look that cool, but it was an idea where we wouldn’t have to make covers or anything, just put lyrics on it. It would be something that was extra special for kids who came to the show. The other motive for me was that if you are a kid who can’t make it to the show, it also encourages you to communicate with other punks and trade records. Some of my oldest friends in punk have been people that I have traded records with and those are my friends forever, so we want to encourage people to do that. I think it worked a little bit, some have been on Ebay, there’s always bad apples.

Ebay is a strange beast. I hate resorting to it, but I always find stuff that I couldn’t otherwise get my hands on.

I am definitely am on Ebay a lot and bought lots of things on Ebay and have paid lots of money for records. Although I will say the most I have ever paid for a record was very recently, not on Ebay, and to me one of the greatest records of all time, SSD’s Get it Away 12" I paid $75 for a mint copy. One of my friends had it for sale and I bought it. You see people paying extreme amounts of money for a record that just came out that isn’t rare, or there are 90 colors of this vinyl and they have to have all of them. To me there is a big difference between paying $75 for an SSD record because it is historic or classic and a piece of history, like people who want to buy Minor Threat or people who buy the mail-order only cover of some hardcore record and they have to have it right away and pay $150 for it. I’m not hating on it, but it’s kind of weird that people will spend that kind of money on multiple copies of the same record but not use that money to support other bands. I was talking to someone the other day about how it is so weird that nowadays all the great records that have come out are accessible for free online, you don’t have to pay for them. They don’t sell as many copies but you have people spending all their money buying really hard to find records that just came out. I think it’s just a natural thing that has just happened, but it is disappointing that there are certain bands that are so great and are still only going to just sell a few thousand albums on tour when there are people paying $70 for an album on Ebay. A lot of kids don’t even think, ?°»Oh why don’t I just support the label?’ In the past if I was into certain labels and certain bands I would just write to the label and ask if I could trade or buy it. Half the time it worked out, half the time it didn’t. If you do a DIY label you will be excited that somebody is that into it and you will want to help them out. I see a lot of kids that just get into that mindset, that you can’t buy anything for a regular price.

What do you have planned for The New Lexicon as far as vinyl goes?

We always had to fight about vinyl with Jade Tree in the past to get what we wanted. Not in terms of money, but they have a typical way of pressing their vinyl. They would press 2000 and do 100 on this color, 1000 on that color and be done with it. That’s not how I approach things, I am 26 years old and I still order a record right away so I can get the mail order color. For the first one we just picked two colors that would be compliment the layout and made one that would be a limited mail-order color an the other just be the regular cover. That record came out in 2003 and it has cooled down now, but at the time bands were putting out 9000 versions of every record and I was so disgusted by it because you would have this band selling 1,000 7"s but it would be on 5 colors to 200 people. It’s a weird line because I am into records but I am not into commercializing punk and hardcore, so it was a calculated move to just do one color.

With Jade Tree, for whatever reason, it was really hard for them to move more than a certain number of LPs. At some point you sell 2000 and that’s it, you don’t sell anymore. There is a certain ceiling on it. I think with CVA there is 1500 with 200 on clear blue and the rest are on solid blue. With Paradise they pressed even less. Our friend Tim Goth did the artwork. We decided to do a couple of cool things. We wanted to do a layout for the LP that was different than the CD because you have more room. Also because he is an artist for this local art space called space 1026, he did a lot of screened posters for our shows He had said that he wanted to do some screened covers of the artwork and we thought that was awesome. It was personal, someone’s hands have touched every copy. They are all numbered, I think I numbered them all and personally touched every one. I think we did a couple hundred of those and they were for mail order. They sold out, just like CVA, right away and they didn’t repress them, which I thought was weird. I would rather listen to a record on vinyl than on CD. Then they ended up pressing some for a European tour. We begged them because we didn’t have any for Europe, we wanted to give something to the Euro kids so they pressed a couple hundred with screened covers for the tour. Then there is the spray painted stencil that I made by myself. I had this stencil of our logo that I brought on our first tour. Whenever we played a show I went and spray painted our logo. I actually got us banned at the Black Cat in Washington for a while. Evidently, I sprayed their back ally and they were really upset about that. But we recently have been allowed to play there again, which is great. I took yellow poster board and hot pink spray paint and made 25 of them, a nod to the sex pistols with the yellow background and pink writing, which is an awesome cover. Its weird because our vinyl discography is not complicated because its’ a combination of Jade Tree not having much of a vinyl focus and by nature of them not pressing that many and us not having to do much crazy stuff. Also, Jade Tree sells a lot of vinyl in stores and you can’t really do weird spray painted things and ship them off, but for the new record we have a lot of cool thing planned.

With Paradise they pressed so little which was just crazy. We sell so many more record compared to CDs. It was strange because it was so much better than the last one and every show we’d go to people would be like, pfff, you don’t have vinyl?

For The New Lexicon it’s funny, ever since pre-orders went up, a lot of people have been asking me what color they are going to be and how many there are. We are doing three colors total. One for us for the release show or something that you can only get from us at shows or whatever for a limited time and an alternate cover that we are planning. I have to call Rivalry and get a reminder about what the colors are. It dawned on me that it’s insane that I don’t know this, I am the anal retentive nerd in the band. It’s going to be on a nice heavyweight vinyl. I am looking forward to seeing it, they are still being printed up. It should be is definitely something worth looking forward to.

Rivalry is awesome, Jade Tree encouraged us to find a label, they just don’t have the interest to do vinyl nowadays so they encouraged us to seek someone out who would do it. Dan and I have both been fans of Rivalry and the guys that do it for a while and they were into doing cool stuff for the record. They are rad to work with and the other thing is that I really wanted to press is for the vinyl to come with free MP3s of the record, a modern approach to it. When I see a record in a shop that says free download I am more opt to pick it up. I heard that some labels, like Saddle Creek, have this business plan where they are not going to do CDs at all anymore, just records with downloads.

Right, that’s something like what G7 Welcoming Committee is doing in Canada, just offering high quality MP3s and getting rid of CDs all together.

I read that too, I thought it was strange. I understand it, just in terms of a business structure it is total freedom You can do what you want and create the art you chose and it can succeed on whatever level based on whether people like it or not. It’s always a struggle when you are a band at any level, you make a decision based on how things are going to financially affect you, either what tour you take or how you press your record. I think the idea of digital only is cool and I respect it, but I don’t know. You should see my room, it is just records everywhere. I can’t imagine being into music and not having them. With us it is always important to have the lyrics, have a tangible thing to listen to, play it in your stereo. I think that’s another thing about MP3s. I don’t think people pay as much attention to a song. When you put a record on a turntable and drop a needle, you sot and listen. I sit and I look at the lyrics and the artwork. I don’t know, it’s weird that we live in an age where the closest you get to that is iTunes.

If you have anything you’d like to see featured on Vinyl File, email ben (at) punknews (dot) org.

PAINT IT BLACK [I]NEW LEXICON[/I] REVIEW

The name may scream Rolling Stones, but Paint It Black is a screaming, tough-as-nails punk band, though its new album eerily explodes into foreign territory while still looking back to the genre’s undiluted ideals. New Lexicon is the third outing from the Philadelphia quartet, fronted by ex-Lifetime/Kid Dynamite mouthpiece Dan Yemin, and its atmospheric apocalyptic hardcore includes disconcerting open spaces and gloomy effects between the roared vocals and bass-heavy instrumental barrages.

Credit that in part to working with Oktopus from the hip-hop duo Dälek, whose own recordings fuse Public Enemy grit with mind-bending My Bloody Valentine fog. Paint It Black took the record to Oktopus after recording the basic tracks with punk legend J. Robbins (ex-Jawbox), and from there its thundering anthems were cast in enough sinister shadows to give any mall-punk boy band nightmares.

It’s a surprisingly natural fit with the bleak tone of Yemin’s lyrics on New Lexicon. This is a sermon for the vermin/A song to draw blood/A finger in the dam tryin’ to hold back the flood, he sums up on "We Will Not," intoning the words so gravely and rhythmically it’s like a half-rapped death ballad. "Gravity Wins" noticeably descends into Dälek-isms at its close, and "White Kids Dying of Hunger" opens with a no-bullshit query: What will it take to fucking wake you up?

Well, since he asked, more records as simultaneously inventive and uncompromising as this one would go a long way toward restoring punk’s reputation for calling people to arms while packing envelope-pushing thrills. Naked Raygun’s Jeff Pezzati sings on the closing "Shell Game Redux" (yep, that’s fifteen songs in a half-hour), completing New Lexicon’s vibe as a dire yet invigorating modern-day classic.

Vinyl File: An interview with Dan Yemin and upcoming releases

You’re the lucky reader of the 27th edition of the Punknews.org Vinyl File. This column aims to keep you informed with upcoming releases as well as spotlighting interesting releases, your favorite bands’ own collections and labels with a history of vinyl releases worth talking about. As always, Vinyl File is brought to you by Ben Conoley.

This week’s Vinyl File is the first of a two-part interview with two members of Paint it Black, who have a new album, The New Lexicon ,dropping in early February. This week we talk to vocalist Dan Yemin. Next week we talk with Andy Nelson, the group’s bass player. We’ve also got news of upcoming vinyl releases from a whole bunch of bands you’ll want to know about, including Converge, Death Cab for Cutie and Murder by Death.

Click Read More for the scoop.

THE VINYL FILE SPOTLIGHT

Are you enjoying some time off before you start pushing The New Lexicon?

This is time on. It’s more time off when I am touring. I can only play about six weeks a year. We play weekends and stuff, but by American standards I take a shit load of time off. We will go out the weekend after the record comes out we will play Friday, Saturday and Sunday, go back to work, go play some shows with Strike Anywhere, go home.

I saw you play with Municipal Waste at The Fest and it was a pretty wild show.

The Fest has become a no miss thing for me, I make sure I go every year.

The New Lexicon is coming up pretty fast. You recently had some record release shows for it and gave everyone who went a free 7", which is something people seemed to get excited about. You’ve also done it with other projects, is it something you make an effort to do?

Part of it was, I think it’s cool to do stuff like that and as a special thing to do for people for shows. Andy wanted to create a situation that encourages people to trade records from one scene to another, say someone in California couldn’t make it so they had to connect with someone in Philly and make it happen. That’s what’s special about punk and hardcore, it’s a subculture with little things like records and building bridges and connecting people. Real collectors, it’s like there’s a real honor about it. If you do right , people will do right by you. Andy has some great stories about randomly starting to trade with people in Japan. I have never been an obsessive collector or trader. I used to mail order, but I just love vinyl. I don’t obsessively collect anything in particular.

As far as I know, nearly everything you’ve released in any of your bands has been available on vinyl. How important is that to you?

I would never do something that didn’t come out on vinyl. I love vinyl and I still think it’s the ideal format in music. Anyone that can be real honest with themselves and has a good set of ears on them knows that it has a dynamic range and is definitely superior to CDS. If you have a good turntable and a good stereo, vinyl just sound better. I’m an old schooler, so it’s still a normal format. The art’s all shrunk down on CD – it’s like a mini cover. Although I do own a lot of CDs, had to succumb to that. The turntable in my car skips and I do most of my music while commuting, so I have a lot of CDs but I still think of CDs as the exception rather than the rule and they are going to die out. Tower and a whole bunch of similar stores have died out. It’s kind of ironic because people have allegedly been singing the death nail for vinyl for a long time, but look what is going on. CD sales have been declining dramatically.

One of the reasons we are doing vinyl through Rivalry is that Jade Tree is not really invested in doing vinyl. It’s where they’ve been losing money, but it seems like vinyl is becoming even more of a stable thing to sell. I mean I understand why they are moving away, because for them it means making a commitment to keep it in print indefinitely. They always made 2,000 and sold them, and then it slows down but you can’t press less than 500, so then you’re committed to keeping it in print. You don’t get terms at the vinyl pressing plant. At the CD plant you get six months to pay, but with vinyl you pay up front. They pay three grand up front to press it and at some point it sells really slowly and then they are taking on this pretty large financial burden to do something.

It seems that Jade Tree hasn’t kept Kid Dynamite or Lifetime stuff in print, though That’s interesting. At some point I had a whole box of Hello Bastards that I was just trying to donate to people who were having flea markets that were benefits and I couldn’t get rid of them. For a few years I had a whole box of them.

Do you still collect records personally? Yeah. I got a huge pile of records last week. I actually buy vinyl faster than I can keep up with listening to it. What did I just buy? The hip-hop record store in town is going out of business and they are having a 50% off sale. I got an Ultimate Force record, a Ghostface 12." I got the second Organized Confusion record, an MC from Staten Island that was kind of with Wu Tang when they first came out, I got his album. What else did I get? I found the Deep Wounds full length, which was the hardcore band that the Dinosaur Jr. guys were in ’83, but it’s probably a bootleg. I love old girl groups, like Motown stuff. I am always just looking in record stores, flea markets and shows. I have been buying records since the ’70s.

Some of the hardcore stuff I have got recently is the drummer from Government Warning does No Way Records and his stuff is consistently awesome. They had a 12" from a group called Double Negative, which is fucking, amazing. Destroy LA is another one that I got recently that is really good. There’s a lot of stuff that I got lately that I never had a chance to listen to. I pulled out my Ink and Dagger 7"s the other day. When my wife moved in two years ago – she’s an old punk – our record collection got about 90% cooler. She had all the riot girl stuff that I didn’t have and garage stuff and every version of everything Los Crudos ever did. I haven’t even looked at everything she brought to the house.

Can you tell us what is in store for Paint it Black or your other bands as far as vinyl goes?

My game plan for Paint it Black is to just do 7"s from here on out. I love doing albums and I take myself seriously as a songwriter, maybe too seriously. I was always saving my really good songs for the next album. But now I am like, "we’re a hardcore band and we have done three full-lengths. How many hardcore bands have done three good records?" 7"s are great and are the ideal format for hardcore. There are a lot of record labels that I have talked to that would be into it. I would like to do three 7"s with three different labels.

On the No Idea website, they have Lifetime’s self-titled album as slated for a 2008 release. Are they re-releasing it on vinyl?

Yeah, we wanted to license it to them. The label that did that record, I think they could give a shit about vinyl. Once we kind of realized that, I was pretty unhappy with the way that came out the first time. It was late and didn’t have an insert and we were furious. We said, "we need to do an insert and it has to get mailed to all the people that ordered it online," but that didn’t happen. No Idea are my friends, they do the Fest every year, they are a great label that really cares about vinyl. The vinyl would be really at home on No Idea and we were really pushing Var to make it happen.

Yeah, I remember when that came out. It was supposed to come out at midnight, but it was hours late and they had only 250 red copies that sold out in minutes.

They only did 1,000 of them, which is crazy, but it’s like repress it or license it to someone that will. They just wanted to worry about selling CDs. I was like, alright, I see where this is going. I don’t want to talk shit, but I don’t see why you can’t sell CDs and keep vinyl in print

THE PUNKNEWS.ORG VINYL FILE

The first single from mewithoutYou’s latest album, Brother, Sister should be available soon. The 7" has the song ‘Nice and Blue Part 2′ as well as a demo version of ‘In a Sweater Poorly Knit.’ The Split between Bomb the Music Industry! and O Pioneers!!! has been repressed by Asbestos Records. Pre-orders are being taken here The two new colors will be red/white split and black/white split.

While pre-orders for The Loved Ones upcoming album Build & Burn were expected to launch yesterday, a delay has kept the records from the Fat Wreck Chords offices. Expect pre-orders for the vinyl to go up this week.

Pre-orders for Genghis Tron’s Board Up the House start February 1. The 2xLP will be available on 300 limited "splotch" colored records. Pre-orders, which start February 1 will be entered into a contest to win the original lacquer plate of the record’s laser etching. Those interested can order here.

After a tour-only edition of Hot Water Music’s upcoming collection Til the Wheels Fall Offsold for over $400 on eBay, the folks at No Idea decided to even things out a little by offering a number of the records as "buy-it-now" items on eBay for only $20. Good on ‘em.

Deathwish Inc recently made an announcement that got a number of people excited.

We are proud to announce that Deathwish (under exclusive license from EVR) will reissue the classic "Jane Doe" album on vinyl format. Available or the first time in over 6 years, this 2XLP will be packaged in a Deluxe Gatefold sleeve, and will feature a variety of vinyl color variations, appealing to collectors and audiophiles alike.

Pre-orders for the record should begin sometime this winter.

Another box of records have been "found," something that is becoming increasingly common. Either way, it’s bound to save people bundles of money on eBay and comes courtesy of Sonic Boom Recordings, who recently put up a limited quantity of Death Cab For Cutie’s Transatlanticism. Get ‘em while you can.

Miamante Records have put together a beautiful package for the new Aloha EP Light Works. The record, which ships February 1 contains seven songs on a 12" picture disc which each copy hand-numbered /500.

Belgium has a new record label called Midnight Manhunt Records, who will be releasing the newest EP from Poostew. Misericordia will be pressed as a 10" record and features a silk-screened b-side that comes packaged in what the label describes as a deluxe bag. Only 500 copies have been pressed.

Souvenir’s Young America and City of Ships will be releasing a split LP courtesy of Perpetual Motion Machine. Both a tour-pressing and a 180g black vinyl pressing will be available with a total of 300 copies all silk-screened and hand-numbered.

Trustkill Records has a number of reissues available for pre-order. Throwdown’s Haymaker and Vendetta have been combined in one 2xLP package as have Walls of Jericho’s With Devils Amongst Us All and All Hail the Dead. The third combo release puts together The Opposite Of December and Tear From the Red by Poison the Well.

Bleeding Through’s latest album, The Truth, has been pressed on vinyl by Forsaken Records. It’s limited to 1,000 copies split evenly between clear and white/grey splatter vinyl.

Murder by Death’s Vagrant Records debut Red of Tooth and Claw is set for a vinyl release. The record will be limited to 1,000 copies on 180 gram "midnight blue" vinyl. Pre-orders can be placed here.

If you have anything you’d like to see featured on Vinyl File, email ben (at) punknews (dot) org.

15 In Philly: Lifetime / Paint It Black / Kid Dynamite

Spend 15 years in Philadelphia and you’ll figure out that things in MAGNET’s native city aren’t always sunny or bursting with brotherly love. But underneath the tough exterior are some pretty sweet sounds. In honor of our anniversary, we pay tribute to our hometown scene:

For a city so fertile with negative vibes, feelings of inferiority, raw anger and working-class toughness, Philadelphia has proven incapable of home-growing a decent, sustainable hardcore band. Even our old-school punk history pretty much started and ended with the lightweight, goofily smart-ass Dead Milkmen. Laying claim to the lineage of Lifetime—the New Brunswick, N.J., hardcore band that started in 1990 and spawned Philly-based outfits Kid Dynamite and Paint It Black (pictured)—is a necessary act of eminent domain.

Lifetime, “Young, Loud And Scotty” from 1997’s Jersey’s Best Dancers:

Led by singer Ari Katz and guitarist Dan Yemin, Lifetime played melodic punk in the vein of forebears Dag Nasty and Hüsker Dü. Katz’s sensitive-guy lyrics and two albums on the Jade Tree label (home to the Promise Ring and Texas Is The Reason) saddled Lifetime with the dreaded emo tag by the time it disbanded in 1997.

Yemin, who earned the nickname Dr. Dan after completing a doctorate in clinical psychology a year later, emerged soon afterward with Kid Dynamite, a group that included singer Jason Shevchuk and original Lifetime drummer Dave Wagenschutz. After two albums of short, sharp hardcore blasts, Kid Dynamite called it quits. Yemin put his degree to use, counseling adolescents.

Yemin suffered a stroke in 2001, leading him to reconsider punk-rock glory one more time. As frontman for Paint It Black, his songwriting grew, well, darker within the framework of Kid Dynamite’s classic hardcore rage. Paint It Black’s third album, New Lexicon, gets a deep blast of bass-heavy urgency courtesy of producers J. Robbins (Jawbox, Channels) and Oktopus (of avant hip-hop group Dalek). Even as Yemin moves forward with Paint It Black, however, Lifetime fans—notably, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, who issued 2007 reunion album Lifetime on his Decaydence label—keep clamoring for the original blueprint of melody and noise.

Paint It Black Unveils New Lexicon

Paint It Black is ready to show off the fruits of its most experimental trip to the studio.

The band’s New Lexicon arrives in stores Feb. 19 from Jade Tree Records, and has already been described by front man Dan Yemin as obsessed with a heavy low end, going so far as to bring hip-hop producer Oktopus into the studio to shore up the deep-deep. It follows up 2005′s Paradise (review) (Jade Tree).

New Lexicon’s track listing is:

The Ledge
Four Deadly Venoms
We Will Not
Past Tense, Future Perfect
Missionary Position
White Kids Dying of Hunger
Gravity Wins
Dead Precedents
The Beekeeper
Check Yr Math
So Much for Honour Among Thieves
New Folk Song
Saccharine
Severance
Shell Game Redux

Paint It Black | Record Release Show, First Unitarian Church, Philly | 01/5/08

All pictures by Jason Bergman

Even though The New Lexicon doesn’t hit the streets for another month, Paint It Black brought the party to the City of Brotherly Love to celebrate their third full-length and, of course, Philly’s independent culture. The guys made sure to keep the weekend action-packed with plenty of great bands and Saturday’s matinee was no exception.

Read after the jump for the show review and more photos!

Staring things off was Mike McKee’s Amateur Party. The guys don’t play a ton of shows but they usually find themselves on some pretty killer lineups. Unlike Mike’s other projects (Kill The Man Who Questions, Armalite), the band has more of a Ted Leo-meets-Paul Weller feel to it. Check them out!

Brooklyn’s Dustheads may be young, but they have the age, precision, and amped up aggression of a classic 80s-era hardcore band. A ton of NYC people made the trip down I-95 (or via Chinatown Bus) to show the guys some support at the F.U. Church. It wasn’t very surprising that a huge pit erupted several times during the band’s set, sending bodies flying all over the room. I am really looking forward to seeing where this band goes in the next few years and hopefully everyone will stop asking me if they broke up when I play them at work.

There have been a lot of rumors of late hinting at the impending disbanding of garage pop-punkers The Marked Men. No word on whether or not this is a valid claim, but the boys didn’t seem phased at all during their set. There were a few in attendance that were bobbin’ along to the boys classic sound but it seemed like it was lost on most. The band’s set wasn’t as mindblowing as it was down in Gainesville for the Fest VI but one can only hope that some of the people in attendance bought all of their records and educated themselves. Seriously, will their last full-length Fix My Brain (Swami) ever lose steam? I still listen to that record on a pretty regular basis.

I feel like I’ve seen World/Inferno Friendship Society about forty times in the last year. The guys have been on stages large and small promoting the heck out of their latest longplayer, Addicted To Bad Ideas (Chunksaah). Crazed stage-antics, rabid fans, circus-freak lovin’ melodies; this band will soon be as popular as Gogol Bordello. You gotta hand it to them, they are without a doubt one of the most entertaining live acts out there today.

Every once and awhile anticipation for a record builds and builds until it feels like an entire scene is waiting its arrival. I think it’s safe to say that Paint It Black’s new record could be placed into that category. I’ll have plenty to say about it in a month and I’m sure you will too but for now, Dan Yemin and crew took the spotlight to bring those new songs to life and play a handful of band staples along the way.

The crowd was a bit exhausted after yet another rawkus-filled performance from World/Inferno but that didn’t stop the band from calling them out for the lack of stage diving. They even brought up their infamous call for “infinity plus one” stage dives from Fest VI. As expected, the crowd erupted, with kids giving it their best. There were several “holy shit” moments. Man, I felt bad for those poor skulls up front. Comes with the territory I suppose. While I may have avoided the skull-crushing this time around, the band is just as engaging from the back as they are when you are screaming along to every word up front.

While Sunday’s show may have been the hardcore-oriented one, I definitely preferred this lineup. The diversity of every band paid off and the first record release show was an excellent celebration for Paint It Black’s opus.

PAINT IT BLACK [I]Shell Game Redux[/I] REVIEW

Paint It Black vocalist (and Lifetime/Kid Dynamite guitarist) Dan Yemin counts Nas and Naked Raygun among his biggest influences, two reference points you’d be forgiven for missing amid PIB’s blistering, Charles Atlas-lean hardcore. But on the band’s third album—and first with new drummer Jared Shavelson (None More Black, the Hope Conspiracy) and guitarist Josh Agran (Knives Out, Affirmative Action Jackson)—Yemin’s a bit more open with his hip-hop and Chicago-punk touchstones. Again recording live, warm and raw with J. Robbins—who also produced 2005’s excellent Paradise—PIB handed over New Lexicon’s 15 tracks to Dälek producer Oktopus, who fractured, time-stretched and otherwise dosed the material with his psych-fried low-end theory. And on “Shell Game Redux,” a poetic us-against-them rant that leads in from a monstrously distorted Oktopus piece (the ending of “Severance”) before charging toward its anthemic climax, PiB deliver their most direct Chi-punk nod yet: getting Naked Raygun vocalist Jeff Pezzati to call in several rounds of his trademark “whoa-oh-ohs” from a Windy City studio. The result is one of the most powerful album-closing tunes in PIB’s arsenal, as well as one of the heaviest (and bass-heaviest) hardcore songs of this still-young year.

Paint It Black vocalist Dan Yemin on “Shell Game Redux”

There’s a guest producer, but technically speaking, you only have one guest musician on this record: Jeff Pezzati.
Man—a dream. There are three voices in punk that give me chills no matter what context I hear them in: Ian MacKaye, Kevin Seconds and Jeff Pezzati. And when I hear Jeff’s voice come in on “Shell Game,” I still can’t even believe it’s on my record. I wrote the hook to that song with Naked Raygun in mind, and we joked for months, like, “Oh, when Jeff Pezzati sings this part, ha ha ha.” But after a while, I thought, “You know, it doesn’t have to be a joke.” We have two degrees of separation: J. produced [Pezzati’s new band] the Bomb’s last record, and we’re both huge fans. When he produced Paradise, J. and I stayed up all night one night nerding out on Naked Raygun. The guitar player from the Bomb, Jeff Dean, is also an old friend of mine—he’s the first person I ever met with a Lifetime tattoo—and we’ve stayed in touch since we first met around 15 years ago. And so I called J. and Jeff and said, “I’m interested in having Pezzati sing this part; do you think he’d be willing?” Within two days I get this call—I still have the message on my voicemail—like, “Hi, this is Jeff Pezzati; I wanted to talk about how to organize singing that part on your record.” So we sent the tracks to him in Chicago: I have a friend who has a home studio there, and we just set it up and did it there. I was thrilled.

PAINT IT BLACK [I]NEW LEXICON[/I] REVIEW

Band: Paint It Black
Album: New Lexicon
Genre: Punk/Hardcore Punk
Line up:

Label: Jade Tree

Tracks:
1. The Ledge
2. Four Deadly Venoms
3. We Will Not
4. Past Tense Future Perfect
5. Missionary Position
6. White Kids Dying Of Hunger
7. Gravity Wins
8. Dead Precedents
9. The Beekeeper
10. Check Yr Math
11. So Much For Honour Among Thieves
12. New Folk Song
13. Saccharine
14. Severance
15. Shell Game Redux

It was hard not to go into this album with unfairly high expectations. After two solid albums and the fact that Paint It Black have ties to Lifetime and Kid Dymanite, two of the best punk bands of the 90′s. Needless to say, the album delivers. With mind-numbing intensity and energy that out does Red Bull, this album should be a staple in todays modern hardcore punk scene. Even with those expectations, this album goes above and beyond what I thought it would.

Dan Yemin’s vocals are really something else. He yells out each and every word with the same ferocity as he did on the very first track. The way he projects the vocals on the album sound like they were performed live (in a good way), the way the grab my attention is something that I haven’t felt in a recording in a long time. Lyrically, Yemin is very impressive. So many punk bands today throw their lyrics onto a track without thinking about them figuring no one cares anyway. The song that comes to mind when I think of the best lyrics on the album is always "Gravitiy Wins". With lines like "And who the fuck are they to tell us where we can and can’t find divinity/ We looked around and found their god nowhere in the vacinity" are lyrics that few bands today would have been able to come up with, setting this album far apart from the rest.

The guitars on this album feature crushing riffs. None of it is terribley complicated, but most of the the stuff today isn’t. They hit hard and move fast, which is what I believe punk is all about. They add a great backing for the powerful afformentioned vocals. The drums follow a pretty normal punk formula just like the guitars. However, all of this was expected because Kid Dynamite and Lifetime use similar musical techniques.

In the end, this album is everything that I expected it to be and more. Paint It Black were tailor maid for the modern punk scene, and won’t be fading away any time soon. They already have a large number of fans from their previous ventures, and they will no doubt be gaining more with this project. Each album gets better and thats something that a lot of bands can’t do. Paint It Black have set themselves apart from a scene that its very own members played huge parts in creating, and thats trulely special.
Rating: 9

Paint it Black [I]New Lexicon[/I] Review

The shelf life of a hardcore band is normally only a few years, with seldom more than a single record and countless miles on their van to show for it. This short period of existence is partly to blame for the lack of innovation in hardcore. Almost every band’s early material sucks, because as musicians you’re still getting used to each other, so if your band only lasts a few 7”s you never have time to move past your early roots and evolve.

Most of the time it’s this evolution that separates good hardcore bands and great hardcore bands. There have always been exceptions (Scrapes and Heart Attacks RIP), but when you look for true genre luminaries, its almost always the bands who have had time to grow that break new ground. Over the course of their previous two full lengths Paint it Black have grown from the forty second brutal punk songs of CVA to a more melodic yet still equally fast and heavy sound on Paradise. As powerful as those records were they were still, at their core, simply hardcore records.

So now I sit here with Paint it Black’s third album before me, and I’m at a loss for words as to how to describe it. On face value it’s still a hardcore record. The songs are mostly short and fast as hell, and front man Dan Yemin’s shout has never been gruffer or more pissed off. And yet, New Lexicon is a beautiful record. The musical backdrop for Yemin’s rants is a strangely varied mix of melodic punk, old school emo and crushing speed. This is the first time a Paint it Black record has featured a song one could even consider something he held back from his band mates in Lifetime. And thank god for it.

Hardcore bands are often so obsessed with getting faster and heavier than anyone else that they neglect writing songs that are worth listening to. New Lexicon lives up to its name by laying down fifteen definitions of what hardcore can be and then turning them on their ear. Who’s to say that a hardcore song can’t have a sung line in the middle of a chorus without succumbing to emo cliché? Or that you can’t cut out all of the instruments except the drums and focus on just a simple bass drum/crash cymbal beat? Or let one of the leading producers in indie hip hop (Oktopus) add samples, overdubs and general madness to the end of tracks?

Oktopus’ additions come out of left field at first, appearing in the form of droning drum and bass pieces constructed from samples of songs from the record and lulling you into a different listening space before ending and throwing you back in the melodic maelstrom of the albums actual songs. And they are the perfect example of hardcore evolving. It would be easy for these parts to stand out, and not fit in with the rest of the record. Yet somehow, they fit in perfectly, even in the presence of the albums traditional hardcore moments. New Lexicon throws out hardcore’s definitions and rules and uses the freedom that separation provides to recreate the genre from the ground up. A “sermon for the vermin” maybe, but a message and delivery that the genre as be sorely needing. Behold the first absolutely necessary listen of 2008. This album is perfect.

10 out of 10
RIYL: Lifetime, Modern Life is War, Ignite or Naked Raygun.

MUSIC . One Track Mind : Paint It Black "Past Tense, Future Perfect"

Their brevity has earned Paint It Black a fair amount of teasing in these pages, but really, we’re just impressed. Shrieking tightly composed sociopolitical arguments in an average of a minute and a half is a struggle by anybody’s standards, and the Philly punks have consistently come out on top. By this logic, it might indicate a snap in their tautness when the preview track from New Lexicon (due out in February on Jade Tree) clocks a whole 2:20 in length — their longest cut to date, and the first to break the two-minute barrier. But "Past Tense, Future Perfect" packs as much punch as any of its more expeditious cousins; drum hits blare from the start, and singer Dan Yemin seems to take on the biggest of targets, God, in an atheist’s searing howl. At 1:20, the Paint It Black we once knew might have wrapped it up, but the bass keeps moving, heralding a delicious coda of arpeggiated guitar chords and Descendents-style counterpoint refrains. The band’s lightning speed of yore can still electrify, but pacing itself makes for a greater level of sophistication.

Hear this song at one of Paint It Black’s two record release shows, Jan. 5 or Jan. 6 at the First Unitarian Church; catch the Jan. 5 matinee and get yourself a free copy of New Lexicon.

MUSIC . One Track Mind : Paint It Black "Past Tense, Future Perfect"

Their brevity has earned Paint It Black a fair amount of teasing in these pages, but really, we’re just impressed. Shrieking tightly composed sociopolitical arguments in an average of a minute and a half is a struggle by anybody’s standards, and the Philly punks have consistently come out on top. By this logic, it might indicate a snap in their tautness when the preview track from New Lexicon (due out in February on Jade Tree) clocks a whole 2:20 in length — their longest cut to date, and the first to break the two-minute barrier. But "Past Tense, Future Perfect" packs as much punch as any of its more expeditious cousins; drum hits blare from the start, and singer Dan Yemin seems to take on the biggest of targets, God, in an atheist’s searing howl. At 1:20, the Paint It Black we once knew might have wrapped it up, but the bass keeps moving, heralding a delicious coda of arpeggiated guitar chords and Descendents-style counterpoint refrains. The band’s lightning speed of yore can still electrify, but pacing itself makes for a greater level of sophistication.

Hear this song at one of Paint It Black’s two record release shows, Jan. 5 or Jan. 6 at the First Unitarian Church; catch the Jan. 5 matinee and get yourself a free copy of New Lexicon.

Best Of The Fest: Paint It Black

One of the many Fest highlights came late Saturday night when Paint It Black stormed the stage at Common Grounds. The night before, Paint It Black performed at a house party (some video can be found here) and Dan Yemin claimed that is was the one of the best shows he has ever played and challenged the crowd to match the previous nights intensity and passion. He even out right demanded that the crowd beat Municipal Waste’s record of “infinity stage dives,” demanding they put forth “infinity plus one.”

The band performed two new tracks from their upcoming third album, which we hear will be released in early February. Based on the new cuts they played, we are highly anticipating this release, not to mention that Yemin himself said in regards to the new record, “it’s going to bring punk rock back to year zero.” Fuck yeah.

Rockin’ The Fest out

As national touring band Paint It Black ripped through songs like "Pink Slip" at deafening volumes, the audience sang along while crowd surfing, dancing with fists in the air and jumping so hard that it tested the floor’s support beams.

Only this punk rock show didn’t happen under the glare of stage lights. It happened in a second-floor apartment at Bivens Cove.

For the three-day Fest VI in Gainesville, house shows happen every night.

"This is the most insane example of it I’ve ever seen," said Dan Yemen, singer of Paint It Black, whose 16-year band resume includes stints with Lifetime, Resurrection, Armalite and Kid Dynamite. Yemen said he was surprised by the audience’s politeness and by how smoothly a house party ran, even after police showed up.

Paint It Black and The Shook Ones transformed the apartment, dubbed "The Thunderdome," into a punk rock club. So many people were being crunched together that the owners decided it had reached capacity and locked the doors, fearing the second-story floor might cave in.

During the Shook Ones’ set, about a dozen kids danced and jumped along to the first song, causing the floor to literally bounce.

Brandon Lanie of St. Augustine described the sound of the floor going "wump, wump."

The audience was then asked to sit on the carpet, but it didn’t last long.

"If we all die during the Fest, this is Fest heaven," proclaimed Avery Bender, 21, a Gainesville resident.

Both Paint It Black and Shook Ones were able to play short 10-minute sets to about 100 people before police arrived and kindly asked everyone to leave. The show ended about 3 a.m. Saturday, but day two of Fest VI was only beginning.

Hundreds of people have converged on downtown Gainesville for the three-day music festival, The Fest, now in its sixth year. Today is the final day of the event, with people coming from all over to watch more than 200 bands.

"Imagine going to a Gator game where all the colors were black," says Leigh Scott, radio personality and promotions director for 100.5 The Buzz. Just like at the Gator national championship celebrations, people this weekend have been seen walking down University Avenue high-fiving, cheering and hugging.

Scott, 31 and a Gainesville native, has been witness to Gainesville’s punk growth.

"Gainesville has had a huge punk scene," he said. "Given that you have a 20-year history, most of it was done through house shows."

The house-show scene kind of died out once Gainesville put noise ordinances into effect, Scott said. But through the work of No Idea Records, venues and other media, punk rock in Gainesville has been given new avenues, he said.

"It’s gone from being self-recognized to actually recognized in the media," Scott said, affirming that The Fest VI puts Gainesville on the punk rock map.

And even after a year of preparation and planning, Fest spirit never lost sight of one of punk’s core tenets – no distinction between band and audience, said Scott. Bands sign in for The Fest in the same room as a regular fan.

Even with a dozen venues hosting more than 200 bands over three days, not everyone felt they were given a decent time slot. Some bands didn’t get scheduled at all, but still found it worthwhile to drive to Gainesville. For these bands, impromptu sets were the way to go.

Traveling folk-punk outfit Peach-Colored Jug Smugglers set up shop underneath the staircase of Mojito’s on SW 2nd Street. A four-piece consisting of spoons, washboard, fiddle and banjo, the band played to a small audience hoping passers-by would toss change into an instrument case.

"Basically, we wanted to meet up with people while traveling," says Sean Mohati, the 18-year-old fiddle player. The California band has been together for eight months. When not traveling, they squat on government property, living in a shack called The Chad House, Mohati said.

"Camouflage," Mohati explained as to why they haven’t been caught. Once The Fest is over, the band hopes to make it to New Orleans by Halloween.

Milwaukee pop-punk band Chinese Telephones was slotted to begin at 12:40 a.m. Saturday, the same time as The Fest headliner Naked Raygun. The Chinese Telephones scheduled a second set at a house party Saturday afternoon on SE 2nd Place so their friends could watch both bands.

Dan Oppermann, guitarist for The Chinese Telephones, said the band drove to Gainesville for The Fest without scheduling any other dates. Normally when touring, the band attracts a crowd of about 25 people, said Oppermann. But at The Fest, both of their sets were packed.

"We didn’t expect to play in front of a billion people," says Oppermann.

Next Philadelphia, We’re Getting Warm: We predict the future so you don’t have to.

>>Ask the Experts: SEAN AGNEW

Next Big Bands: Rambo, Paint It Black, Pearls and Brass, and Pissed Jeans

"Often Philly punk hardcore bands are looked over by the papers here in Philadelphia. Rambo from West Philadelphia will be going on their second Southeast Asia tour in a few months and planning their South America tour later this summer. I found it amusing when a certain local band was bitching about how no one cared or was attending their local shows, and here you have Rambo self-booking a tour in countries and cities where American bands have never ever played. Sit down and think about it-these guys are emailing kids they never met halfway across the world and finalizing the details about playing in these tiny remote villages. What local indie bands have even left the tristate area, let alone the country? Paint It Black released what seems to be the No. 1 punk record of the year, according to a bunch of punk and hardcore-related websites. They’ll be touring the States and Europe this year, as well as releasing their third record, which should mean real big things for them. Two Philly bands to look out for: Pearls and Brass. Their latest record on Drag City destroys-they’re insanely good. And Pissed Jeans, who have a zillion labels interested in them right now and just finalized plans to release an EP on Sub Pop later this year. I’m so excited for both of them and can’t wait to finally brag about two full rock bands from the city that are fucking fantastic!" (N.F.)

Sean Agnew runs R5 Productions.

Dillinger Four / Hard Skin / Paint It Black – Live in Philadelphia

When I arrived at the First Unitarian Church (Philadelphia’s bastion for larger scale DIY shows) I was greeted by perhaps the longest line I’ve ever witnessed at the venue. Dillinger Four live is a rare commodity, and apparently one that Philadelphia’s punk fans weren’t willing to miss.

After fighting off the cold, the jagged-toothed homeless that roam around outside the Church, and the stares of those unable to score tickets, I entered the venue to the sounds of local Philly act Mischief Brew. The band played a rollicking set of music that was equal parts street punk and rockabilly with lyrics that leaned towards the political. The band’s energy was high, and they even had enough fans for a solid sing-along or two, but the singer’s forced sneer grew grating at times.

Canadian punk act Fucked Up then took the stage and belted out some massively loud old-school-tinged hardcore tunes. Their set wasn’t bad, but after a few songs it seemed you knew all the band’s tricks, both musically and stage presence-wise.

Paint It Black was next to rock, and having seen them a few times now, in a few different incarnations, I can honestly say was the best performance I have ever witnessed from them. Dan Yemin was truly electrified, putting to shame front-men ten years his minor with his devious scowl, throbbing neck veins, and kung fu-like freak-outs. Yes, I said kung fu-like freak-outs, because on multiple occasions Yemin left his preferred Henry Rollins stance to cut loose with swinging arms and legs. Bassist Andy Nelson was also in his usual run amuck state as he violently swung his bass and teetered on the edge of the stage.

Yemin and company opened with “Ghosts” and then flew through their set, which included songs such as “Atticus Finch,” “Election Day,” “Pink Slip,” “Cannibal” (the song with the best opening scream since Ian MacKaye’s on “Guilty of Being White”), “CVA,” “The New Brutality,” “Void,” “The Insider,” “365,” “Womb Envy,” and “Panic.” To end their set, as they always do now, the band played “Memorial Day.” Being in Philly, Dave Hause just happened to be on the side of the stage with beer in hand, and was more than willing to throw down his vocal parts on the set’s closer.

The commentary that Yemin usually dabbles in between songs was kept to a minimum; at one point he even said, “Let’s get the politics out of the way,” and then fired off short declaratives such as, “Republicans, evil. Politicians, liars. Organized religion, tool for social control. Gay marriage, thumbs up.” His most interesting comment of the day however might have been when he said, “Punk and hardcore are like the Harry Potter of independent music. You are embarrassed to tell your friends you are reading the books, even though they contain plenty of literary allegory and a great story.” Yemin then clarified his comparison by saying that Paint It Black does want to have fun, but they also want to bring some intelligence into a genre that people often view as anti-intellectual.

Hard Skin, a fake skinhead band from England, were next to take the stage. The three-piece offered a set that was equal parts stand-up and musical performance, opening with the comment, “Paint It Black said what they stood for, now we will tell you what we stand for: Getting pissed and getting laid.” The band played catchy-as-all-hell Oi! tunes whose lyrics were almost as ridiculous as the band’s banter. Songs titles like “A.C.A.C. (All Coppers Are Cunts),” “Copper Cunt” and “Oi, Not Jobs” should give you some idea of what I am talking about.

Hard Skin not only prompted many a sing-along, but also many a laugh, as between songs they spent most of their time insulting the other bands on the bill. Their bassist said his band wanted to sell out and build community just like Paint It Black did by “Putting that song on the Tony Hawks (sic) DVD.” He also said that the members of Fucked Up took part in England’s newest trend, “Straight on straight gay sex,” and that Paddy from D4 was a “fat fuck,” a comment made all the more ridiculous by the fact that Hard Skin’s bassist is himself a man of immense girth. At one point during their set a naked concert-goer climbed onto the stage and the bassist announced mid-song, “They make them a lot smoother here in the U.S.”

Now let me stop right here and say that although the show up until this point was far from disappointing, Paint It Black were incredible, and Hard Skin, if nothing else, were a sight to behold; my score for this show mainly pertains to the incredible amount of devotion and passion that Dillinger Four exhibited. In fact, I debated merely writing “Holy fucking shit!” about a hundred times to describe Dillinger Four’s set, but decided I’d give you a bit more than that.

After setting up their equipment, the performance started on a bit of a somber note. Paddy came up to his mic and stated that he had been trying to go around being all “nonchalant and professional,” but that he had to be straightforward with us instead. He then explained to the crowd that he has ulcers and spent the weekend very sick and vomiting. Now this disclosure was definitely a downer, but because this is Paddy, he quickly followed his comment up by saying that he had a puke bucket on the stage and that, “Since we are using someone else’s equipment and it will probably sound like shit, and I am puking, that means this is going to be old school!” The band then launched into “Mosh for Jesus,” the crowd immediately surged forward with a hundred fingers pointing to the ceiling, and any signs that Paddy was sick or that someone else’s amps were being used were non-existent.

Dillinger Four moved through their set with their typical high energy, but after a few songs it became apparent that something was missing. That something was the usual comic insight of Paddy. At first he got out a few jokes, saying he brought this sickness on himself and that punk rock wasn’t the Harry Potter of independent music, but the scientologist work Dianetics. It wasn’t until a few songs in that Paddy’s silence became apparent. He spent more time by his amp and puke bucket than his mic, while his bandmates tried to fill in for him in the joke department. At one point Billy was even asking the crowd how many times they thought Paddy would puke before the end of the set.

It seems that at this point many bands would have called it quits, but in true “the show must go on” fashion, Paddy would march to the mic for his vocal duties and spit out the words through a cringing face that only hinted at the pain he must have been feeling. It was both moving and slightly uncomfortable to watch, but the crowd did their best to pay back Paddy’s perseverance by singing along and, for lack of a better term, going off.

The band marched on, playing songs such as “Doublewhiskeycokenoice,” “Who Didn’t Kill Bambi,” “Let Them Eat Thomas Paine,” “O.K.F.M.D.O.A.,” “Noble Stabbings!!,” “Fuzzy Pink Hand-Cuffs,” and “Folk Song” before they decided to cut things a bit short. They closed with “D4 = Putting the ‘F’ Back in ‘Art’,” and you could tell Paddy was really giving everything he had left as his voice strained and his face wore an expression of pure agony. At the end of the song he immediately ran off the stage, and it was soon after announced that Dillinger Four would not be playing a later show they had originally been scheduled to do.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a selfless display at a show before, as Paddy ignored his own personal comfort to give the kids in Philly a performance to remember. As I was leaving, I couldn’t help but think that what Dan Yemin had said earlier in the night was true. When giving the obligatory “up next” statement he described Dillinger Four as “The best punk band in the U.S.,” a moniker that is not only accurate, but well earned.

Punknews.Org’s Top 20 Albums of 2005

Introduction by Brian

I recently pored over the "Best of 2005" lists to compile an overall one that takes the records that appear most frequently and (subsequently) highest in the ranks. Consequently, here it is…

Punknews.Org’s Top 20 Albums of 2005

#20. The Suicide Machines – War Profiteering Is Killing Us All
August 9 on SideOneDummy Records
Scott’s Testimonial: This politically charged ska-punk combo return with another blistering set of, well, politically charged ska-punk. And the result is yet another awesome album in this band’s catalogue (4-for-6 ain’t bad at all, guys!).

Tie – #18. Teenage Bottlerocket – Total
April 12 on Red Scare Records
Adam’s Testimonial: Maybe it makes me a musical conservative, but it’s remarkably reassuring that there’s new bands emerging to carry the torch of the Ramones and Screeching Weasel. This is solid meat & potatoes punk rock, charmingly free of whatever today’s trends are yet still youthful and vibrant.

Tie – #18. The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday
May 3 on French Kiss Records
Matt Whelihan’s Testimonial: A little 70s rock, a little bar rock, and one big tale of a girl who is trying to find religious salvation while fighting drug addiction, doesn’t exactly sound like a formula for success, yet it is exactly what makes Separation Sunday such an engrossing listen. Craig Finn’s psuedo-spoken word vocal style coupled with his literary approach to lyrics make him one of the most compelling front men in indie, while the band’s big riffs and twinkling pianos don’t seem ironic, but surprisingly fresh.

#17. Smoke or Fire – Above the City
March 22 on Fat Wreck Chords
Justin’s Testimonial: Smoke or Fire put out an album that appealed to the 14 year old in me who discovered this music, as well as the 24 year old who often gets disillusioned with it. It’s an album full of earnest, critical, well thought out songs that aren’t repetitive, but not so varied that it loses your interest. On a more real, guttural level, Fire Escapes caused me to learn how to weave in and out of Market Street traffic on my bike. The album "gives me faith" in the progression of punk rock, without ever losing sight of it’s roots. Maybe I’m wrong, but come fall of next year, these guys are going to be on the tips of everyone’s tongues.

#16. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
March 22 on Vice Recordings
Aubin’s Testimonial: Despite being burdened by endless comparisons to Gang of Four and Mission of Burma, Bloc Party set their own path with the rhythmic, eclectic Silent Alarm; one of the few times where hype undersells a band.

#15. Boys Night Out – Trainwreck
July 26 on Ferret Records
Brian’s Testimonial: An ambitious, masterfully crafted, not-so-easily pigeonholed followup from a band who many likely thought were to fly the flag Grade once soared high. Boys Night Out write a cohesive, obviously metaphorical but well-connected story of a man trying to exercise his musical — and psychological — demons inside his head, told against a creative, experimental, drawn out and still catchy affair. Read more…

#14. The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree
May 10 on 4AD Records
Greg0rb’s Testimonial: After so many releases of focusing on the fictional and last year’s We Shall All Be Healed focusing on real people other than himself, John Darnielle finally points his pen at his younger self. What we get is all the more compelling because we can truly picture our main character. It’s not all whiny and hateful towards his abusive stepfather; Darnielle uses his narrative prowess to paint a very broad yet detailed picture of his young life and the hope that he had throughout it all. [review]

#13. Bear vs. Shark – Terrorhawk
June 14 on Equalvision
KirbyPuckett’s Testimonial: It is a shame that BvS just broke up.Terrorhawk smoothed out the bumps from their stunning unveiling Right Now You’re In The Best Of Hands. And If Something Isn’t Quite Right…. They really hit their stride with these fifteen tracks that pulled from nearly every genre for one of the most intriguing albums in recent memory.

#12. Constantines – Tournament of Hearts
October 11 on Three Gut Records (Can) / Sub Pop Records (US)
Jesse’s Testimonial: This release blindsided me. I always really liked Shine A Light, but I never ended up listening to it much. They’ve always been hailed sort of as a punk/indie Bruce Springsteen, and on this release the influence couldn’t be more flushed out. But at the same time, Constantines managed to strip this album down to only the bare essentials each song needed, a huge jump away from Shine A Light where both guitars, keys, and bass were used to their full potential for layered harmonies and melodies. But while having a huge Springsteen influence, Tournament of Hearts couldn’t sound more different than anything I’ve ever heard.

#11. Propagandhi – Potemkin City Limits
October 18 on G7 Welcoming Committee (Can) / Fat Wreck Chords (US)
Sickboi’s Testimonial: Intelligent, aggressive and thought-provoking.

#10. Sleater-Kinney – The Woods
May 24 on Sub Pop Records
Adam’s Testimonial: Every time a track from The Woods shows up in the shuffle I tend to stop what I’m doing and just listen. While I liked a lot of records this year nothing came even close to capturing my attention like this has. Sleater-Kinney’s always quality songwriting is mixed with an impossibly loud and imposing set of instrumentals, captured by a brutally raw production style. The band’s vocals, guitars and drumming are all pushed to the breaking point and the results are staggering. The Woods is one of the most confident albums of the decade, and the band’s command over this material is breathtaking.

#9. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
July 12 on Asthmatic Kitty
Dan Perrone’s Testimonial: I wish I had the words to say just how much I love, adore, and appreciate this album. This is music as an art, in it’s finest form: beautiful, honest, and caring. No one has done what this young man has done in his short career. There’s nothing that can compare to just how good this album really is. Who thought folk music could be so catchy and accessible? With the use of countless instruments, backup vocalists, and, of course, his own talent and amazing voice, Sufjan Stevens has created a masterpiece. There’s not a dislikable thing about Illinois. This kid has one hell of a future ahead of him, and I for one will be a fan all the way. Nothing that has been released in the past year can possibly touch this. Hands down the best album of 2005.

Tie – #7. The Decemberists – Picaresque
March 22 on Kill Rock Stars Records
Sally_Field’s Testimonial: Britpop has never sounded so solid. Picaresque is nearly an hour of dreamy, charming rock laced with pianos and Colin Meloy’s distinct vocals. The album is addicting and unique from the upbeat tracks such as "The Infanta" to the more mellow, emotional tracks in the likes of "From My Own True Love (Lost at Sea.)" To put it simply, this album is a gem and, without a doubt, my favourite release of 2005.

Tie – #7. Comeback Kid – Wake the Dead
February 22 on Victory Records
Dan Perrone’s Testimonial: My review of this was pretty controversial, and ended up being pretty awesome because of that. While I still stand behind everything I said, it is obvious (being that this is #6) that this is not the best album of the year, although it is damn close. It’s the best album Victory will has and will put out in a long time, and this is just the beginning for this young group. They’ve got the world by the balls; now it’s just time to wait and see what they do with it.

#6. Death Cab for Cutie – Plans
August 30 on Atlantic Records
Sally_Field’s Testimonial: After I first downloaded this album, it sat in my hard drive for weeks before I’d worked up the courage to listen to it. When I like an album as much as I liked Transatlanticism, a let-down was essentially imminent. Yet, when I finally worked up the courage to listen to Plans, I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, the album is different than past Death Cab releases, but it still encompasses the mellow charm that makes the band so appealing in the first place. "Soul Meets Body" and "Summer Skin" remain my favourite tracks.

#5. Modern Life Is War – Witness
June 21st on Deathwish, Inc.
Aubin’s Testimonial: A seething, vicious demonstration of the power of restraint in hardcore.

#4. Latterman – No Matter Where We Go..!
August 9 on Deep Elm Records
Justin’s Testimonial: Where the hell did they come from? It simultaneously makes me want to ride my bike, sing along, and move back to the east coast. It makes me feel good inside, which is a hard task. I think that we only have good bands like this once in a very long while. Feel-good album of the year is the wrong term, but fits nonetheless.

#3. A Wilhelm Scream – Ruiner
August 16 on Nitro Records
KirbyPuckett’s Testimonial: A “Wilhelm Scream” is a generic sound clip used in several films, made famous throughout the Star Wars films. Although, the band’s name is derived from a common audible noise there is nothing broad about their music. With Ruiner AWS have compiled a smarter and more aggressive record than Mute Print, but the biggest surprise is perhaps the cunning lyrical department. Also, the song “Me Vs. Morrissey In The Pretentiousness Contest (The Ladder Match)” is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

#2. Against Me! – Searching for a Former Clarity
September 6 on Fat Wreck Chords
Scott’s Testimonial: Every album Against Me! released has been better than the one prior, and this is no exception. Tom Gabel’s lyrics continually cut to the core of whatever issue he feels like addressing, whether it be personal or social-political. It excites me to know I’ll be able to witness every single step of Gabel’s maturation as a musician, and to know that every single one of those steps is in the right direction. Gentlemen, take a bow: You are the most important band in punk rock.

#1. Paint It Black – Paradise
March 8 on Jade Tree
Brian’s Testimonial: Melodic Hardcore 101 is now in session, with your long-time professor Dr. Dan Yemin. Paint It Black deliver a mindblowingly good twist on their style of no-frills, no bullshit hardcore with pangs of melody and plenty of spots to catch your breath, only to have it torn from your mouth and choked to oblivion. Whatever that means. Dr. Dan is outraged at the state of the world today, and he wants to let you know through song. Being pissed off never felt so good. My favorite album of 2005.

Paint It Black [I] Paradise[/I] Review

I’ve been waiting for “Paradise” to come out after about two listens of the last full length “CVA”. Seeing them at Posi #’s last summer only pumped me up even more. There was a point around three months ago that I literally NEEDED to hear more Paint It Black like a normal human being requires food, air and water. This band is just that good. They have done no wrong from their demo to the present and, likely, never will. Featuring Dan from Kid Dynamite doing vocals and Dave from Kid Dynamite/Good Riddance on drums this band takes hardcore punk in a direction a lot of bands attempt but usually end up failing miserably at in the process. They manage to perfectly balance being melodic and utilizing absolutely brutal vocals without being ?°»too heavy’ or ?°»too poppy’. The drumming from Dave Wagenshutz is flawless with some of the most inventive fills I’ve heard since Jarrod Alexander in The Suicide File. For fans of hardcore or people who just enjoy good, powerful, ROCKING music in general: Paint It Black is definitely a band you should check out. Catch them live if you get the chance.

Paint It Black [I] Paradise[/I] Review

With all songs clocking under a minute and a half, Paint It Black delivers an album that doesn’t require a lot of your already so short attention span. But even then they manage to capture every bit of attention necessary. It’s fast, pissed off and at times even melodic, which could be the only point of criticism one could have on their debut “CVA”. With Dan Yemin from former Lifetime and Kid Dynamite fame at the steering wheel and David Wagenshultz of Kid Dynamite and Good Riddance behind the drums, Paint It Black is on a course to become one of the better old school hardcorebands around. Hell, at some points you even recognise influences from the short lived Kid Dynamite, and that’s a good thing. Basically, if you like old school hardcore with a modern twist, this album just blows you away.
Score: 8

Paradise Lost

This should be a boom time for hardcore, right? Religious zealots control the government, the economy sucks, we’re at war and American Idol is the most-watched television show in the country. How much more ammo do you need, brah? The streets should be teeming with beefy dudes in hoodies and Chuck Taylors, ready to fire machine-gun riffs at any and all comers. But they, uh, aren’t.
So thank goodness for Paint It Black. With scene points up the wazoo (frontman Dan Yemin was in Kid Dynamite and Lifetime, drummer Dave Wagenshutz was in Good Riddance), the Philadelphia quartet is a standing army of old-school values. Raw-throated shouting about how war is bad? Check. Rhythm section that operates in two gears: breakneck and chugga-chugga? Check. No song over two minutes? Oh yeah.
But Paint It Black know that all that has been done thousands of times before, so on their second album, Paradise, they tweak the formula ever so slightly. The breakdowns on “Pink Slip” and “Labor Day” feature little chewy melodic nuggets that explode like Fruit Gushers, while the intro to “Ghosts” recalls Radiohead before they forgot they were a rock band. There’s even an Against Me!-style acoustic sing-along at the end of the closing “Memorial Day;” its chorus of “Here’s to the skinned knees and sutured heart/ Here’s to the unhappy endings and all the false starts,” is sure to inspire group hugs in pits across the country. Then, hopefully, it’s on to Washington. —Amy Phillips