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

I don’t think I need to go on a rant about how severely diluted the meaning of “hardcore punk” has become. Let’s just say there are bands that do it right and bands that don’t and that people will never agree on which is which. With “hardcore” enjoying peak status alongside “bling” as a commercial and cultural catchphrase and major labels now plucking from the rosters of certain popular hardcore labels, the meaning of the term means different things to different people, to put it neutrally. People can debate what is “true” all they want or obsess over fashion and gossip– but when you hear a band that does it right it should be unquestionable.

So this is Paint It Black’s second full-length and it’s pretty great. CVA is already a respected debut and Dan Yemin (x-Lifetime, Kid Dynamite) is an underground veteran who can’t help but pour everything into a project. CVA was about his recovery from a stroke, Paradise is about his divorce and the current world political climate. Call it youth crew or whatever, this is tough-minded, straight-ahead gym bag hardcore spliced with layers of politics and guitars worthy of Repeater-era Fugazi.

The songs are a bit longer than CVA, but all are under 1:45 and the 14 tracks go by in 21 minutes. Again, the band shows they dominate the art of the short fast song and how much you can do within a brief time frame. With so many retail stickers promising “HUGE BREAKDOWNS” here’s a band that truly understands how to control tempo and energy and chop your head off with a real-deal breakdown or fill. There are some brilliant sections that are completely unexpected and different from incompetent, lifeless attempts at this sound. A lot of credit is due to the drum skills of Dave Wagenschutz (x-Kid Dynamite, also of Good Riddance) paired with the bassdudeship of Andy Nelson. Colin McGinniss is also truly a lead guitar here, giving things both the Dischord and Revelation sound (not quite the MBV comparison on the one-sheet). Yemin is as livid as ever, both in lyrics and performance. It is still tough to hear the words “ballot box” in March of 2005 yet Yemin’s poetic, personal, and political diatribes cut to the bone. There’s some “Get your head right” stuff that give things that inspiring Damaged or Break Down The Walls energy and also turns of phrase like “Treating people like pigeons; I hope they peck out your eyes.” He even comes close to some Ray of Today lion roars. Yeah, it’s kind of weird to hear gang vocals on big punk anthem choruses on a Jade Tree release, and the mic picks up “Does he want it that manly? That’s going to get someone pregnant.” Everything just clicks, the recording by J. Robbins is great as usual, and it’s the perfect length for a hardcore LP.

The set ends with an acoustic sing-along reprise and you realize you’ve also listened to a pretty good pop record. I don’t know if you’ll be hearing any singles on Clear Channel media outlets, but I’m guessing Jade Tree will get this some decent attention. As for staying local to Philly and touring infrequently, it’s too bad that a lot of people will miss out on them. But some bands thrive on staying true to their roots and Paint It Black is that type of band. The good kind.

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

You’d think that if you were in your mid thirties and had just suffered a stroke you would want to take things easy for a while. Well that wasn’t the case for Paint it Black vocalist Dan Yemin. After under going medical treatment for his stroke a couple years back Yemin formed Paint it Black, a band that is much heavier, darker, and urgent than his former bands Lifetime and Kid Dynamite.

Paint it Black is a straight forward, bare bones hardcore punk band who musically combine the ferocity of Black Flag with the speed of 90s punk rock. Their first album was a non-stop explosion of aggression and fury, but for anyone not well versed in punk’s intricacies, the songs all ended up being a bit indistinguishable. I guess that should be expected from a band that has never written a song over two minutes long.

Luckily on Paradise Paint it Black has thrown in some variation to their pummeling onslaught of sound. The album opens with “Election Day,” a double time punk track full of vocalist Dan Yemin’s typical shouts, but halfway through drops into a strange noise rock breakdown, while songs like “Angel” and “Labor Day” move into more Kid Dynamite like melodic guitar territory, and other songs like “Exit Wounds” make use of the studio by adding flange to a drum fill.

Despite experimentation Paradise is not necessarily more palatable. Paint it Black is still more pissed off than a team of roid raging football players and the album may still illicit “All the songs sound the same,” comments. This may not be the best place to start for someone introducing themselves to the world of hardcore punk, as Paint it Black take the most raw of human emotions and throws them back at the listener without any filters or pretty packaging. At the same time this album shows Paint it Black’s attention to detail. They have mastered tight and concise song writing that is able to convey a complex argument while still giving hardcore kids something to dance to in under two minutes.

Career Opportunities

Since before The Jam uttered its “Youth Explosion” declaration, or Generation X laid down that “Youth Youth Youth” chant or Sham 69 got everyone riled up about kids who are united, punk rock’s been almost exclusively associated with adolescence. And can you blame the world for thinking so? The brash energy, us-against-them mentality and black-and-white worldview are perfectly suited to catering to adolescent angst and youthful rebellion. Toss in the exodus of the scene’s founding fathers into post-punk and other forms of music by the mid-’80s, and it’s no wonder punk’s firebrand mentality has frequently been associated with immaturity.

It’s been more than 25 years since punk shook the music world and permanently reorganized the way we look at music and the world beyond it. It evolved from a fad into a scene and, for some, into a lifestyle. As the new millennium slowly grows into itself and punk, now in its 30th year, the children of the punk revolution – the first ones born and raised in a world where punk drastically altered the cultural landscape – are coming into adulthood. For many of them, it means holding onto that lifestyle.

Dr. Dan Yemin of Philadelphia is one of that generation. By all superficial measures he’s just another Joe Paycheck, albeit a successful one, working as a self-employed psychologist treating teenagers and kids through the miracles of modern psychotherapy. It fills his days. It pays the bills and that mortgage payment each month. In one regard, he’s the model of the upwardly mobile, educated thirtysomething. Underneath it all, however, the former hardcore kid hasn’t let go of his roots.

Although the punk fashions and the weekly attendance at punk-rock concerts are a thing of the past, replaced by a more mature, balanced lifestyle, he hasn’t forgotten the lessons punk rock taught him. As the singer for Jade Tree Records’ Paint It Black, he’s spreading the gospel. After all, the lessons he learned from a canon of mixed tapes, 45s and from the stages of DIY all-ages shows aren’t the sort of thing you outgrow – even after settling, albeit somewhat uncomfortably, into the real world.

“Most of my politics were coalesced from being a punk rocker, from being a hardcore kid,” the well-spoken therapist explains over the phone, shortly after his final patient has left for the evening. “It was part of the process of me becoming a politicized adult, an intelligent, critically thinking adult, and I’ll always be grateful for that. A lot of my best friends are still people I know through the punk scene. There’s a very strong connection to that.”

A few seconds of Paint It Black’s sophomore effort, Paradise, should kill any doubts that Yemin’s career and maturity are incompatible with his punk-rock upbringing. The band lashes out with the ferocity, volume and ideological firepower that have more in common with SST Records’ hardcore-era glory days than any of today’s fashion-conscious hardcore acts. The 14-track affair’s over in just more than 21 minutes, though it’s a runaway-train ride of bristling, buzz-saw guitars, Molotov-cocktail rhythms and Yemin’s half-shouted political commentary. With that sort of intensity, 21 minutes is just about enough. It’s a reminder of the days when punks were more interested in righting the world’s wrongs than pleasing record-company executives.

While some underground lifers will say Yemin and company are too invested in the system to muster anything more than half-felt inspiration of true revolutionary artists, he argues the opposite: Bands whose paycheck, lifestyle and financial well-being depend upon wooing fans can’t ever truly cut loose to risk it all. For Paint It Black, day jobs are a way to ensure it doesn’t have to worry about sacrificing polemic for populism. Guitarist Colin McGinniss installs commercial HVAC systems. Drummer Dave Wagenshutz works for Jade Tree. Bassist Andy Nelson splits his time between knocking out some sort of computer code or another and pursuing a college education. Sure, the day jobs aren’t quite as glamorous as glossy-magazine photo shoots, spending weeks on end in the studio on the company dime or intercontinental touring. The careers pay for something more than just the band members’ living expenses: They buy Paint It Black a freedom that’s increasingly rare even in the punk underground.

“It is really the big upside to having our own careers that aren’t music,” Yemin says. “Careerism has killed independent music, in case you haven’t noticed. I’ve said this before. We bitched about that on the last record, with the topical stuff. There are just bands now that are more worried, a lot of bands now, that are more concerned with finding management and booking agents than they are about writing an album’s worth of strong and intimate songs. There’s loads of utter tripe out there. I kind of feel that we spent the ’90s playing in basements and eating peanut-butter sandwiches to pay for their haircuts.

”I don’t worry about people making a living off something that we invented. That’s not what I worry about. What I worry about is just the glut of crap in the independent music scene is in not a particularly great place right now.”

Yemin has every right to feel a little jilted, even if he’s not the sort to count missed opportunities. He first made a small name for himself playing house parties and tiny venues in New Jersey’s Lifetime. Between 1990 and 1997, it crafted furiously catchy pop punk (think Descendents or Buzzcocks rather than radio tripe) with Yemin playing guitar on four long-players, before it splintered; Yemin and Wagenschutz regrouped in Philadelphia’s Kid Dynamite, a hardcore outfit that broke up before it ever really received its due in 2000. Undaunted, Yemin bounced back as Paint It Black, dropping the band’s debut, CVA, from Jade Tree in 2003. To say he’s not just remained, but helped influence and shape the punk underground’s direction for the past 15 years is anything but hyperbole.

If there’s anything Yemin’s learned in his decade and a half in the underground, it’s how quickly minor ethical concerns can be erased when a livelihood is threatened. It’s not just the major-label/indie debate that’s been raging since The Clash signed to CBS, either: There’s a whole stew of problems that, in a more ideological world, more than just a handful of punk acts would consider: Punk songs appear in television commercials. The summer’s largest package tour – gleefully supported by dozens of top-tier punk bands, no less – is essentially nothing more than a gigantic, roving commercial for footwear. The Dead Kennedys, once a pinnacle in independence and disdain of commercial pressures, imploded in drawn-out and nasty litigation that’s turned it into a laughably vapid shadow of its former self. If there’s anything that’s been sacrificed as punk’s grown from a somewhat obscure underground movement into a catch-all for youth culture, it’s the all-important ethics that used to come part and parcel with punk rock – usually because bands compromise their ethics simply, to be crass, to stay in business. Paint It Black – essentially a tax write-off for Yemin and company – doesn’t even have to consider that kind of choice to keep a roof over its head.

“You always make compromises along the way,” Yemin says. “We’ve had to make some, but minor compromises. There are certain things we are not going to compromise. I’ve said we’re not going to play Clear Channel shows and we’re not going to play Clear Channel shows. Most of the bands I know, even punk-rock bands with a strong ethical component, really weigh their options because it can really hurt you in some cities. They call them markets now. I still call them cities. I’m old-fashioned. I don’t want to call my friend in Chicago and say: ?°»Hey, how’s life in the Windy Market?’ I don’t want to call my friend in Providence and be like: ?°»What’s it like living in a B market?’ Fuck all that shit. You can hurt yourself in a lot of cities by not playing a Clear Channel show because they have a monopoly and a bit of a stranglehold. I’m psyched that we don’t have to make that compromise. We don’t even have to think about it. I’ve turned down great shows at Clear Channel venues and I feel good about it. Not because I can get up and preach about staying true to my values, but because I like being able to sleep at night and not feel nauseous about that shit.”

Punk’s not dead, but it’s sure turning into an embarrassing parody of everything it used to want to destroy, at least in many places. You won’t find Paint It Black moving in those circles. Its fiery punk rock is as much a reaction against the smugness of post-9/11 America as the cult of bubblegum punk. Paradise roars with the sort of fury nearly forgotten in the sugary world of modern punk. After all, it falls on ears that have proclaimed the vague leftist leanings of Green Day’s American Idiot as a finely honed political manifesto. The days when acts such as Conflict, Crass and even The Clash’s politicking rocked the world seem very, very long ago.

“That’s why I kind of feel like it’s important, for me at least, for me to honor the tradition of punk rock as protest music,” he explains. “A lot of times people laugh when you talk about political music because they assume it’s going to be this adolescent, sloganeering kind of crap. I think we did a record that’s very political but also has subtlety to its politics. Certain elements are not subtle at all. I don’t feel like we’re a band that has to worry about bludgeoning you over the head with slogans.”

Now that Yemin has a steady client base in his therapy practice, conventional wisdom would dictate it’s time for him to outgrow his days as a punk-rock agitator, pay off the college loans and, eventually, starting living the fat, easy life. Of course, conventional wisdom can’t grasp the way punk ethics seep into someone’s soul, help form their personality and help guide them long after they cut their hair or stop attending shows every other night.

Maybe much of the reason that the mainstream sees punk as a stopping point on the way to adulthood isn’t because of its adolescent nature, but rather people’s tendencies to grow apart from the sweltering idealism associated with the scene, Yemin says. After all, when you’re juggling a sadist supervisor, wage-slave working conditions and all the other various headaches of adulthood, it’s tough to remember that, somewhere in the world, people are fighting the good fight.

“I think a lot of the times, being really concerned about values is a transient phase for people, unfortunately,” he reflects. “I think some of it is because people become kind of militant about their politics. Some of that is what’s developmentally appropriate for teenagers. You discover this other world that isn’t on the TV and it seems so important and right and it seems so immediate. Right now, we have to change the world. We have to scream about it. It’s the difference between right and wrong. We have to fight for it. A lot of that comes from the adolescent search for identity, that militant thing. You’re going to burn out pretty quick. Most people do. Some people grow up to be activists. Some people grow up to be into making exciting and aggressive art, and the politics become part of their lifestyle. For some people, the politics are too much work. It’s too hard to think of your life as something political.”

For Paint It Black, it’s just like the good ol’ days: There are no tour managers to employ, no agents taking their 15 points and no shareholder-conscious dude from the label breathing down their neck. There’s just punk rock, and a burning desire to combine youthful idealism with mature insight – and no market considerations, career implications or business concerns to foul things up. The day jobs may keep Paint It Black from becoming a “professional” act by many people’s standards, but the thunderclap of commerce-free music that’s Paradise proves they sure as hell aren’t amateurs, either.

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

A record of the year, isn’t it too early? When David Wagenschutz hits the first beats hard during the opening of "Election Day", I just knew that this album will reach much further and it’s going to be great. "Exit Wound" came as a very catchy toon with a great hookline and chorus, while "The New Brutality" has the best ending part when I thought it’s music meant to bruise till the end of it. It’s unexpected. It’s awesome. Paint It Black with a new guitarist has cram in as many chops and changes as possible in this album and coming over as an interesting blast of lightning and thunder, especially in "365" and have the nerve to end with an acoustic riffs and singalong parts in "Memorial Day". The whole album have been the best HC/Punk can offer with a devastating wall of noise that makes every Hardcore bands all over wish they would have written "Paradise". The album title doesn’t reflects the album’s political/personal lyrical stances and observations on the America crumbling politics. Dan Yemin particularly likes focusing on the decaying of it all. Still, it doesn’t affect the sharp stabbing, heavy crunching sound that Paint It Black make on this second album, and once the CD slides into place and your ears are assaulted by Dan’s view of the world, it’s not difficult to conjure up the thought that he had in mind. The thought of pain, frustration, anger and hopes for the better that, if he’s ignored, are sure to be repeated.

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

"While I do like their extremely well executed debut, Paint It Black’s somewhat paint by the
numbers songwriting (sorry, couldn’t resist!) came across as a little uninspiring given their
legendary pedigree (Kid Dynamite, Lifetime). I mean don’t get me wrong, these guys play razor
sharp hardcore that’s leaps and bounds ahead of the typical hardcore band but the debut had a
slight been there, done that feeling to it. So while it’s a fun record to pop in if you’re feeling like
some straightforward hardcore it’s not anything close to the genre defining work of their previous

"Paradise" is their first step in reclaiming some of that lost ground. Fans of the straightforward
stuff will not be disappointed, as they’ve kept their talk-sing over the slower muted riffs into
blazing hardcore approach intact, but they’ve built around it with the addition of more
sophisticated intros/bridges, more backing vocals and a bigger emphasis on melodic elements
that were all but absent on their debut.

You can really hear this new approach shine on cuts like the furious "Pink Slip" and the barn
burner "Angel". The former snaps you to attention with a perfectly timed lead guitar/pounding
drums intro that bridges into some good ol’ fashioned hardcore before fading out into a thick,
melodic ending. "Angel" starts with all the speed of their earlier work but there’s a distinct melodic
edge that later weaves into a Cult-like hook that’s hard to forget. And I guess that’s the big change
on this record. Some truly unforgettable songs that can stand up to the legacy of their previous
bands. They’ve even branched beyond their predecessors as evidenced by the closing track
"Memorial Day". It starts like a lot of their songs but then you hear a guest appearance by the
singer from The Loved Ones and know it’s going to be different. They slow it down for a bass only
build into a powerful all acoustic ending. Truly an impressive change for these guys.

These added elements may make it sound like their song lengths are getting longer and bloated
but that would be wrong! There’s still not a single song over two minutes, just a lot more going on
this time around and as Martha Stewart would say "That’s a good thing". Seriously, "Paradise" is
a huge step up from "CVA", finally earning Paint It Black the right to be mentioned in the same
sentence as bands like Lifetime and Kid Dynamite."

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

Prior to buckling down to write this review, I spent a few minutes going over what I wrote about PAINT IT BLACK’s debut, CVA, and drawing comparisons to my thoughts then, and now concerning Paradise. Needless to say, I’m just as blown away from PAINT IT BLACK’s brand of hardcore now as I was a couple of years ago, and still Paradise is largely an entirely different animal than CVA. There’s something inherently funny is typing the fact that PAINT IT BLACK has vastly opened up its sound to now include songs that almost span two minutes, but it’s perhaps the most obvious development in the band since its inception – well that, and a dripping sense of melody and seriousness.

The 14 songs that make up Paradise deliver a teeth-gnashing assault in roughly 21 minutes, and virtually every listen leaves you wondering how the damn thing ended so quickly. Dave Wagenschultz still drums harder than virtually anyone else in the business, and that kind of out-of-control playing is the tasmanian devil backbone that’s constantly growling in the center of things. From the speedball travels of "365" to the breakdown friendly timings of "Labor Day," Wagenschultz ‘s playing is the kind that reminds me every day that I need to learn how to play the drums before I become old and feeble. Of course, the percussion momentum is slapped silly with the smokin’ guitars of Colin McGinniss, and of course, ring-leader Dan Yemin’s venomous vocal eruptions. As has been widely noted since Yemin took over vocals for the first time among all the legendary bands he’s played in (LIFETIME, KID DYNAMITE), Yemin culls together a degree of anger/emotion that’s practically frightening. I’ve never met the man, but I’m drawn to a vision of him having this massive, bulging vein racing across his forehead. Maybe the best way to describe Yemin’s vocal demeanor is the acknowledgment that he means every word he shouts 110% and he’s got the scars to prove it. Helping out with "melodious assistance" (as the insert booklet notes) is former TRIAL BY FIRE vocalist Jason Yawn, and current THE LOVED ONES frontman, Dave Hause. The two fellas chime in effectively by working in a give-and-go setup with Yemin, creating the effect of vocals swirling around the mix in a handful of songs. It’s a nice touch, both musically, and in bringing together members of the Jade Tree family.

Just as enthralling as PAINT IT BLACK’s music is Yemin’s lyrical content, and it’s autobiographical nature. The most memorable lyrics are the last ones sung on Paradise, from the song "Memorial Day," with the folk-like sing-along "So here’s to the skinned knees and sutured hearts. Here’s to the unhappy endings and all the false starts." I rarely go to shows anymore, but a line like that begs of me to put down the excuses, get in the car, and drive myself into that very sweak-soaked sing-along. It’s the kind of involvment that has crowd-participation written all over it, and by far, a step out of line with anything else PAINT IT BLACK has ever written. Additionally, lyrics from "The New Brutality," ("You wonder why we always play it safe? Our creature comforts are tying us down, and holding us back") and "Burn The Hive," ("You’ll teach us just who to avoid. We’re suspicious, frightened, and paranoid") send voltage through my system. Yemin’s content is on par with latter day words by Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz, but delivered with a hardcore ferocity that doesn’t make talking about social change seem like a lost cause, or at least one fraught with skepticism.

To borrow a line from Deep Fry Bonanza’s review of this album, Paradise just fucking rips. It’s the sound of the eye-opening amazement that drew so many of us into punk and hardcore in the first place, and for that, it will always feel like home.

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

This was without a doubt one of the most highly anticipated hardcore releases of 2005, and thankfully, it delivers. For those of you who don’t know, Paint It Black plays raw hardcore punk in the vein of early Black Flag, Minor Threat, etc. I personally find this band to sound very similar to the little-known 80′s hardcore band B’last! (just listen to their album It’s In My Blood), which isn’t a bad thing.

In many ways Paradise does not sound all that much different than their previous effort CVA, which again, is not a bad thing. Songs like "265," "Exit Wounds," and "Nicaragua" are exercises in straight up hardcore brutality, even more so than many of the songs off CVA. Sure, the last song “Memorial Day” ends with a (literally) 10 second-long acoustic outro and some of the songs (“Pink Slip,” “Ghost”) contain some melodic playing, but this only adds variety to an excellent album. Even at its tamest, the record is capable of ripping the face off most bands releasing records today.

Paint It Black is easily one of the most promising hardcore bands in the world today and I think that, with a darker and longer record, they could have a truly timeless classic. Highly recommended.

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

Standout Tracks: ?°»Burn the Hive,’ ?°»Panic’

If there is one label that seems to be doing a near flawless job of keeping punk rock from succumbing to mass marketing and malls, it is Jade Tree Records. As well as offering the politically uncompromising and musically sound Strike Anywhere, Jade Tree brings Paint It Black’s second full length, “Paradise;” a collection of 14 tracks of the same rigid pedigree.

With past members’ bands including Lifetime, None More Black, Kid Dynamite, and Good Riddance, it is no wonder that Paint It Black brings a style of old school hardcore that isn’t either youth crew revivalist nor reliant on breakdowns. Perhaps one of the most straightforward, no-frills albums in recent memory, “Paradise” is characterized by its fast-paced, technical guitars (although there are plenty of tempo changes) and adequate production. Not one song is greater than two minutes, or shorter than one, which is a change from the absolutely furious pace of “CVA,” in which any song that approached a minute was considered long. “Paradise” also differs lyrically from “CVA” with its focus on recent wars and front man Dan Yemin’s divorce, while “CVA” dwelt on Yemin’s reaction to his stroke. The lyrics are strong and well thought-out for the most part and reflect an aspiration for depth and meaning that goes beyond simply condemnation or judgment.

What it comes down to is that Paint It Black actually have delivered a hardcore album with the meaning and drive to be worthy and on par with the classics of old. Lyrically and musically, “Paradise” spares no effort in delivering quality at its finest. “Paradise” explores the roots of hardcore in a way that throws it into today’s punk genre, but that may be just the thing that punk rock needs these days.

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

Although some may argue that Dan Yemin was at his best with his guitar work in Lifetime and Kid Dynamite, I would say that he’s found his niche as a vocalist on this second full length from Paint it Black. Upon hearing CVA (the first record) I was a little disappointed, but any disappointment left over from that release has been completely made up for on Paradise. This is a collection of fourteen blistering and intense hardcore songs that will hopefully make kids stop wearing their Chain of Strength shirts in exchange for a new Paint it Black tee. This band is more relevant and important than ever and with the loss of bands like the Nerve Agents and American Nightmare, we’re lucky to have such a raw and refreshing look at punk. The artwork and production (J.Robbins) is exceptional. Who knew that a child psychologist from Philly and his boys could continue to kick out the jams in light of considerable challenges. Please do yourself a favor and get this album.

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

14 tracks, and there isn’t a single song over 2 minutes long. The new Paint It Black album entitled “Paradise” is pretty much over before it begins. Would you honestly expect anything less though? Through the years I have associated just about every musical project Dan Yemin has been a part of, to be good in some way shape or form. How somebody can be so consistent time after time boggles my mind, but I am really not one to question such a thing. “Paradise” continues in the same “punch the listener in the grundle” fashion that “CVA” showcased. This album completely smokes, and there are even a few new twists added to hopefully rope in more fans of Mr. Yemen’s previous bands.

“Paradise” isn’t too strikingly different from Paint It Black’s previous record. I have always believed in the cliché term: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. (Pardon my momentary lapse into redneck terminology.) Overall, I have come to the conclusion that this is a much stronger offering than “CVA”. The one thing that “CVA” lacked was melody, which I think sort of alienated them from fans of Dan Yemen’s more melodic projects. On “Paradise” there are still a lot of straight up hardcore songs, but the record has been perfectly balanced, with hints of melodic guitar-work and back up vocals, surgically implanted in various parts of the record. The band even throws in some acoustic guitar tracks on the last song “Memorial Day”. I absolutely love this album. For fans of hardcore this album is completely essential, especially for fans still looking for a band to fill the void left by Kid Dynamite.

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

It’s been a while, two years to be exact, since the highly anticipated debut record from everybody’s fave hardcore band from Philadelphia that may or may not contain former members of Kid Dynamite. But don’t fret my little lambs cos the mighty Paint It Back are back with more fighting music. You know that expression, "this place is so small you couldn’t even swing a cat"? OK. Now imagine a space that IS big enough to swing a cat. Locked in? OK, so ‘Paradise’ is the record you want to be listening to while swinging said cat. OK. Put Whiskers down. Now is the time for a little punk rock word association quiz. I’m gonna give you three phrases. I want you to pick the one that doesn’t quite gel with the other two. "Hardcore punk". "Boundless energy". "Quality songwriting". … sorry I should have explained it to you people who only listen to Bridge Nine and Trustkill records. Songwriting is when a band actually sit down and decide what songs they are going to write
and try and come up with decent and challenging ideas. You know? New ideas! Enough of my gabbing. Just get this record, listen to it and you will understand what I’m talking about. Damn, this shit is good.
Tim Scott

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

Most albums bearing the "Produced by J. Robbins" seal of approval sound like the kind of album you would expect to be released on deSoto or Dischord Records within the last five years. But don’t let that frame your assumptions about Paradise, the latest album by Philadelphia punk rockers Paint It Black. They’re more likely to bring back memories of Robbins’ days in Government Issue than Burning Airlines. Each song is a 90 second punk rock power surge that’s more concerned with pummeling you than challenging the conventions of rock music. Instead, it just charges forth, destroying everything in its path.

Paradise is about three minutes longer than its predecessor, CVA, and contains three fewer songs, which translates to an average of thirty more seconds per song, the longest of the set being "Panic" at a whopping 1:44. That said, this album doesn’t stick around long enough for you to grow tired of it. Blink, and half the album will pass you by. But that, however, isn’t necessarily a criticism. These are songs that are meant to be short, as four minutes of any one of these tracks will leave you limp and bruised.

The fourteen songs on Paint it Black harken back to the days of frontman Dan Yemin’s former bands, Lifetime and Kid Dynamite. These are quick-burning hardcore punk songs that are as stimulating to the mind as they are to the ribcage. Yemin takes on a plethora of topics like our country’s poor leadership ("Last call for the bloodsuckers, cheaters and parasites/You’ve been relieved of duty, so let’s call it a night"), war ("You’re mixing cocktails while we’re mixing concrete/Fortifying bunkers and preparing for the retreat") and more about those leaders ("They want to re-write the history books, they want to turn back the clocks/just leave your hope at the ballot box"). Meanwhile the instrumental three-fourths of Paint it Black chug and pound away, occasionally playing an intriguing melody. But, of course, it’s mostly fleeting, as a pretty riff can only last so long until the mosh section begins.

Paradise is a throwback to the melodic hardcore of yore, despite the fact that these dudes already celebrated their 30th birthdays a few years ago. Paint It Black rock hard, but those expecting more epic and atmospheric hardcore like Isis should move on. There’s only room for in-your-face balls out power chords on Paint it Black’s stage.

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

Quite possibly my favorite hardcore band, I knew that the new Paint it Black album was going to be nothing short than amazing, and Paradise exceeded those expectations. I listened to this CD four times in a row the day it came in the mail, and its been getting steady listens since then.

Every song is memorable and the longer songs aren’t all that much longer (a minute and a half instead of just under a minute). It seems like Paint it Black looked at ways to improve on CVA, and they did just that. The anger is still there and they’ve also added some melody: hardcore style. Every now and then, I hear a guitar riff that would fit in on a Kid Dynamite album (I heard this on CVA as well, and it is to be expected since they had the same songwriter). This is not a bad thing at all, just an observation.

This is true hardcore bliss. After listening to Paradise, I can honestly say that I’d rather have Paint it Black (and None More Black-kind of a two instead of one deal) than Kid Dynamite. Yes, this album (and band) is that fucking good.

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

Paint It Black’s debut, "CVA", was such a fantastic pissed off hardcore album that I was immediately salivating for another, while at the same time hoping Dan Yemin would take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and calm down. With "Paradise", Yemin and co. have helped me overcome my moral dilemma by spitting out a follow-up that satisfies both of my seemingly-contradictory desires.

"Paradise" is less furious than "CVA", but only ever so slightly. Only the most bloodthirsty hardcore listener would find this sophomore effort inadequate in the viciousness department. All that’s different this time around is greater variation of tempos (from ‘really fast’ to just ‘pretty fast, basically), and there’s some melodyplay happening that was absent from the last batch of songs.

But you can’t accuse Dan Yemin of meandering from course too much. The average song length of "Paradise" is still a minute and a half. Every song is over before you know it; in fact, the entire album is over before you know it. So, when a hook hits you, by the time you realize it was even a hook, the song’s over and Paint It Black is already storming through the next one. There’s no time for catchy verses and sing-along choruses when Paint It Black is at work. Even the catchiest moment, right at the end, when it appears they’re finally going to indulge in a rousing sing-along, they sing two bars of it, and then like a lightswitch the whole thing’s over.

Well, for certain there’s no other band that sounds like Paint It Black, and it’s not for any degree of brilliant innovation. Paint It Black play hardcore like hardcore is meant to be played. But they do it with so much character and individuality that it’s impossible to lose them in the crowd.



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

Paint It Black is back with Paradise the follow-up to their 2003 release CVA. This album is hard, fast, loud, and unfortunately over before you know it (Please no sexual jokes). What else would you expect from members of Kid Dynamite, Lifetime, and Good Riddance? Paradise has a few less songs, but believe it or not it actually clocks in a few minutes longer than their debut, despite not a single song on this album clocking in over a minute forty-five. Despite their brevity, all the songs still come off sounding complete incorporating breakdowns and buildups to keep the songs more interesting than might be expected for a minute’s worth of music. The only shortcoming is that the songs tend to hit on similar formula throughout the album. However, if you are a fan of Paint It Black or Hardcore Punk in general, this won’t bother you in the slightest. If you’re looking for hardcore of a melodic nature, with throaty, gruff vocals, and some sing-a-longs to go with your circle pits, then pick up Paradise. What else are you going to do with that ten dollars; go see “Son of the Mask?” I didn’t think so.

For Fans of: Any band stemming from Kid Dynamite, Strike Anywhere, starting circle pits

Paint It Black- Paradise

Pissed-off punk rock is back on point.

Shaking any implications of a sophomore slump, Paint It Black’s second album, Paradise, tears out of the gate with enough pent-up frustration to start your speakers on fire. Things never let up, either, with hit-and-run songwriting alluding to the glory days of hardcore-era Hüsker Dü and Minutemen. It’s enough to make you forget about all the abortions passed off as punk rock in recent years.

You can’t go wrong idolizing the SST Records catalog, at least when you take its searing lessons to heart in the way that Paint It Black does. Picking up where its debut, 2003’s CVA, left off, singer Dan Yemen (formerly of Kid Dynamite) leads his band, now expanded to a four-piece, through Paradise, which is all manic tempos; distorted, clashing guitars; and that impossible-to-fake fury that separates punk’s men from its boys. After nearly 30 years of punk rock, even the idealists know you can’t change the world with just three chords and a chip on your shoulder, but if you could, Paint It Black would be the sort of band that ushers in the righteous new world order.

Paint It Black lays into every notion of a kinder, gentler punk on this album, championing the self-righteous leftist fire that was the heart of punk’s original revolutionary spirit. In “Election Day,” Yemen provides a send-off to every politician’s broken promise as his band sounds as if it attacks its instruments with pitchforks, axe-handle bludgeons and other primitive weaponry. It’s over in a few ticks more than a minute and sets the standard for the album. “Burn the Hive” aims the band’s rocket-propelled guitars at jingoist isolation, “Ghosts” is a drop-out anthem for every underground dweller and “The New Brutality” is a feedback-smeared manifesto that’s impossible to ignore.

There are no half-measures remotely connected with Paint It Black: You’ll either immediately connect with the band’s primitive din and furious message or you’ll always be on the outside. Punk’s always been about an us-against-them-struggle and it’s rarely as evident as when it’s in the hands of Paint It Back. Before the baby-doll T-shirts, the downloadable ring tones and the millions of MTV-addicted fans, punk was a scream from the margins of society. Paradise puts it back there where it belongs. It’s uncomfortable as hell, but magnificent in its decisiveness.

Paint It Black Interview

Can you give a short summary of the bands history? You’ve played in HC institutions like kid dynamite and lifetime before. How did you get together?
Colin: Actually I joined the band this past year. But I played in Go! For The Throat which was hardly an institution. I also play in None More Black. David: I was tricked into joining this band.
Did you change your way of making music compared to the earlier bands you’ve played in?
Andy: Nope.
David: Not really, but the older I get the worst I play.
Colin: think all musicians grow from day to day, not necessarily changing, but growing.

The first record was very old school and "in your face", I felt. Looking back what would you say you where feeling making that record.
Colin: This record is more “in your face” forget about school I dropped out?°¦

Did you feel under pressure by the old fans expectations who might have wanted you to sound exactly like kid dynamite or lifetime?
Colin: Who really cares about the old fans?°¦ that’s not the reason to make music?°¦ what other people think. Like what you like?°¦

You seem to go back to an original and angry hardcore sound. Most bands tend to become softer and poppier over the years. In your case it seems to be the other way around regarding the sound of the former bands you’ve played in. Why that?
David: Poppa Yemin has to answer that one.
Colin: As you get older you get more angry?°¦ the more you work and deal with the real world, the more aggressive temper mental you get. Most people suppress these feelings, but most people don’t get the opportunity to let their feelings out with music?°¦ Playing this type Of music keeps you from killing people.
Musically the new record is a little more diverse than the last one in my eyes, would you agree?
Andy: Yes, definitely.
Colin: would hope you listened with your ears!

What would you say has changed compared to the last record? What can people expect from the new one?
Colin: Me! I wasn’t on the last record?°¦ and you can expect a lot more flanger drums!!!!
David: I’m heavier but the music is not.

Would you say, it’s another step in creating pibs sound?
Andy: I don’t know if I would say that. It’s definitely the sound of us raising the bar and challenging ourselves to make a record with a less directly defined sound, but at the same time I never once felt we were doing something out of the ordinary when we were working on it. It felt totally natural.
Colin: J. Robbins. Master Producer and all around stand up guy.

How important is a political message in music for you today?
Andy: What I really want from musicians is honesty. I don’t respond very well to bands that jump onstage and do nothing but shout typical slogans because not only does it come off as shallow and forced but I also happen to be smart enough to be able to come to my own conclusions about stuff like war (worst shit ever) and George W. Bush (hate him). If politics ain’t your thing, don’t hop on the Rock Against Bush bandwagon, I really won’t miss you. But when bands make politics personal and speak from the heart, they can be really effective. A good example is when I saw the Almighty DILLINGER FOUR in NYC back in October there was a moment where Paddy, in the middle of a humorous tirade against Bush, got really serious and said something to the affect that everyone needs to unite against the GOP because he’s fucking sick of being broke all the time and doesn’t want to be poor forever. All of D4′s jokes aside, you could tell it was the honest truth and it really hit home a hundred times better than any CrimethInc. band ever will.
Colin: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Do you believe music can still be a political force as it used to be in the 80s and early 90s?
Colin: NO?°¦ never gonna happen again but it’s still fun to try!
David: Look at our election results?°¦
Andy: Music can’t elect (or unelect, unfortunately) a president as we saw this past year but it’s still an amazingly great tool for communication and the exchange of ideas.

Looking back, what’s your comment on the presidential elections?
David: Glad it’s over.
Colin: Listen to Howard Stern.
Andy: It’s weird, but the second wave of deep depression hasn’t really started yet…Maybe when George Bush is inaugurated again? The only comment I really have is that it really shows how divided this country is by certain issues that I don’t even give a second thought. It shows that we have a long way to go. Hopefully the dissent and all the movement building that we’ve seen in the past four years will grow and the revolution can get underway.

What about your relationship with the guys from none more black? Haven’t there been rumors about, well… indifferences?
Colin: Yes, I’m glad you asked that, they like pepsi I like coke!
David: Two of us play in NMB as well, there’s no static.
Name some recent bands/records that you enjoyed listening to.
Colin: Hot Water Music. Mastadon. Body Count. Jena Berlin. The Loved Ones. Metallica. Ice Cube.
Andy: GHOSTFACE – The Pretty Toney Album 2xLP, CAREER SUICIDE – Signals EP, JENS LEKMAN – When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog CD, REIGNING SOUND – Too Much Guitar LP, THE EARLIES – These Were The Earlies CD, LOVE IS ALL – Spinning And Scratching EP, ANIMAL COLLECTIVE – Sung Tongs 2xLP, LOOK BACK AND LAUGH – LP, THE ARCADE FIRE – Funeral CD, MORRISSEY – You Are The Quarry CD.
David: The Killers, Reason to Believe, U2, Whiskey Rebels, Wrangler Brutes.

Will there be a European tour?
Andy: There will be! June 2005! Get ready!
David: Marco / Avocado is booking it.

What do you think about filesharing?
Andy: It’s all I do at my office job. I’ve heard hundred of great new bands and rare releases by old ones that I probably wouldn’t have heard otherwise, so I’m all for it. And my iPod is the best thing I own!
David: When my royaltie checks dry up then I’ll be bummed.
Colin: Shouldn’t it be called virus-sharing?

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

This band is real fuckin good, and pretty under rated scenewise. People would rather listen to crap that sounds like cats in blenders. This is straight forward hardcore with a little rock influence that keeps the dream alive.

They are indeed hybrids of the hardcore styles that have been around in the past 20 years, and yet throw their own spin on things, keeping them interesting. The fact that they’re from Philly doesn’t hurt either. Philly has been a breeding ground of quality underground music for years and will stay this way.

The lyrics are geniune and heartfelt, completing the package of being a quality release from a quality band, and surely something you will enjoy if you like good hardcore.

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

So, the temperature outside in good ol’ Western Pennsylvania is starting to warm up a bit. The snow is melting away. The sun is shining bright through grayed clouds. With the windows down and a cool brisk breeze blowing in my face, Paradise has been blasting in my car stereo nonstop. It seems Paint It Black’s newest full-length is the perfect soundtrack for the seasonal transition between winter and spring. Its motivational drive melts away any wintry depression that may be lingering deep inside by way of super-charged, melodic hardcore punk-rock.

Paradise’s musical warmth inspires.

From ex-Lifetime/Kid Dynamite guitarist Dan Yemin (now on vocals) and ex-Lifetime/Kid Dynamite, and current Good Riddance drummer Dave Wagenschutz, expect high-energized punk-rock deeply rooted in old school hardcore. Insistent, hard-lined, and vivid with extensive flashes of red-hot punk lightning, Paradise is a fast assault that contains those magical melodic moments of Lifetime, the forcefulness of Kid Dynamite, along with strong influences from early DC hardcore, yet Paint It Black’s sound stands quite well on its own.

Produced by the master wizardry of J. Robbins, Paradise is a punk-rock gem that ears will definitely find inspiration in, spin after spin. Dan’s firm vocals fuel the music with angst-ridden, aggravated lyrics that expose a restless desire: "I’ve always had my doubts but our vision’s so myopic we see no way out. As long as hope exists, it will be met with angry words and swinging fists. But there’s an itch that we’ve got to scratch. So set the fuse and we’ll strike the match."*

Set the fuse and run…Paint It Black’s hardcore-punk friction will rub and irritate and discharge a motivating spark within you. If Paradise’s incentive kick doesn’t make you clench your fists and become inspired, nothing will. Paint It Black propels an enthralling intensity and drive that’s eagerly breathed in like deeply inhaling the clear morning spring air that invigorates and warms with every breath. This is music that affects and drives you as an individual—Paradise encompasses the passion of music, while releasing bottled emotions and pent-up frustrations. Paradise is a must.

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

Dan Yemin is the only man in punk rock whose bands get louder and faster with age. As the guitarist in hardcore legends Lifetime and Kid Dynamite, Yemin has been known for bringing a keen sense of melody to even the heaviest hitting of his songs. Kid Dynamite was certainly a little faster and angrier than Lifetime; but then along came Paint It Black, formed from the ashes of Kid Dynamite and the result of Yemin’s recent brush with death and subsequent renewed desire to make music. Yes, Paint It Black are still more brutal than anything Yemin has done before on this, their second release. After the well received CVA, the band have made a few changes. First of all, there’s a little bit of melody sneaking in there again. Tracks like the methodical “Panic” clock in at close to two minutes — eons by old Paint It Black standards. But the band has lost none of its edge, as the brilliant riffage of “Pink Slip” demonstrates. Rather than create the same record, it is clear that the band have made the decision to expand their horizons, and while indications that the record would involve “shoegazer parts” have proved bogus, Paradise is a step into adventurous sonic waters for a band whose members are probably more than willing to go for a swim.

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

It’s easy to get disillusioned by hardcore. One look at or listen to most of what’s being pawned off as hardcore these days is enough to feel depressed about the state of the scene. So when a band like Paint it Black come around with a new album, the follow-up to their 2003 debut, CVA, and fucking nail it on the head the way hardcore is supposed to be played (keys: passion, honesty, integrity, dissension), it just puts a smile on my face and makes everything okay. A great hardcore band like this can cancel out 1,000 shitty, ill-inspired bands with their coordinated stage moves and haughty attitudes. Paradise just reeks real, important, and driving. Fronted by ex-Lifetime/Kid Dynamite guitarist Dan Yemin, Paint it Black is one-of-a-kind. A lot of the elements to their sound are throwbacks to late ’80s hardcore (think Minor Threat, Black Flag, and Faith), but it’s the modern elements of melody, tempo, and kindled energy that make this relevant today. Okay, granted, even if they sounded exactly like Minor Threat, that’d be better than most of the shit invading my eardrums lately, but they really do add to that sound, so time to buck up and pay attention. Catchy, fun, inspiring, angering, educational, furious, beautiful… this is hardcore. And you must have it.

Converge, The Explosion, Paint it Black, Bars The ICC in Allston, MA

Its said that you will not remember 90% of an event if you wait more than three days to write it down. I’ve waited about ten days.

Since I was stuck at work for an extra 15 minutes, we missed Bars. I’m not sure if we would have caught them if we had arrived 15 minutes earlier, but I’ll blame my former job anyway; the cocksuckers.

Paint it Black is always good live, which should come as no surprise. There were only four members this time and Andy almost died from the heat. Dan was making fun of his bassist who could barely stand up and was using a wall as a support system. Eventually Dave got a chair from the back for Andy to sit on and they continued their set.

Paint it Black also played two new songs that will be on their forthcoming album. One was a real angry and aggressive song, which Dan said was about his divorce. I can’t remember what the other sounded like (part of the 90% that was lost, I guess).

The Explosion all cut their hair and their singer looked like he gained weight, making him not look anorexic. Their set was really good, with people singing along and having a lot of fun. They played most of my favorites, but left out "Sick of Modern Art," which was disappointing.

We went to get food and came back halfway through "The Saddest Day," which saddened me since that is my favorite Converge song. Their set wasn’t as good as I was hoping, as they were playing two sets in two days (they replaced the late Give Up the Ghost), and I’m thinking that they were saving a lot of songs for the next day. They didn’t play "Locust Rain," which is probably my second favorite song from them. They weren’t playing the same set, so I really should have gone to both shows to satisfy my Converge needs. Bad move on my part.

They also played two songs, which kind of disappointed me. The first one was a basic hardcore song and the second one had more of a Converge feel to it. I really miss the second guitar in their songwriting. I’m still going to pick up You Fail Me when it comes out, but my expectations for it have dropped.


Now this is how hardcore is supposed to be played: fast, loud, and pissed off. From beginning to end this disc is brutal. You’ll find no sissy, emo bullshit here. This is 17 songs in well under 20 minutes, or “fuckin’ quick” as some may like to call it. “But wait,” you may ask, “Isn’t this on Jade Tree?” Yes, the album does happen to be on Jade Tree, a label associated more with mellow, moody music. I suppose the owners finally decided to drop the sensitive guy façade and bust out the Nikes and Judge shirts and get down. And in case anyone is wondering, yes, that is Dan from Kid Dynamite/Lifetime and David from Good Riddance.

Pretty much any hardcore scenester is bound to like something from CVA. For the So Cal. and DC kids who are still stuck in the 80s, there are more circle pit songs than it is even possible to shake a stick at. As mentioned before, there are 17 songs in about as many minutes. I think that fact speaks for itself. And for the Good Riddance and Kid Dynamite groupies who were hoping this album was something along the lines of their older stuff, don’t fret, there are still melodic pieces thrown here and there. The music actually isn’t even far off from those bands, maybe just a little faster and with more thrashy singing. Oh yeah, and for the East Coast moshers, there are plenty of breakdowns for you to exhibit your dancing skills. Hey, maybe you’ll even learn how to circle pit better from the So Cal/DC kids.

I realize there are still some people out there that would ask, “What separates this album from other hardcore releases?” Well, for starters, Paint it Black decided that writing an entire album about unity, backstabbing friends, and/or selling out is lame. OK, well that’s not entirely true. However, the songs are cleverly disguised with puns, misleading song titles, and classic Dan Yemin wit. Basically, this could have been the lyrics to a new Kid Dynamite CD had they not broken up. Speaking of KD, there is a song about bands breaking up. Strangely enough, the members of Kid Dynamite are not listed in the “dedicated to” footnote in the lyrics sheet. Regardless, the song is definitely one of the best in a sea of soon-to-be hardcore classics.

It won’t be too long before this band becomes one of the biggest hardcore bands around. CVA is a very solid debut and stands on its own very well. Dan Yemin is already respected for his previous outings and Paint it Black is icing on the cake. Expect very big things from this band very soon, especially once the band refines their sound just a little bit more.


Pastepunk’s Best Releases of 2003

#12: PAINT IT BLACK – CVA (Jade Tree). When I listen to "CVA," I’m immediately overcome by fond memories of my first time listening to SICK OF IT ALL’s "Blood, Sweat, and No Tears," when I was 14, and the fatefall day in 1999 when KID DYNAMITE’s "S/T" showed up in my mailbox as the result of some magazine subscription. I hope that for a new generation of kids, "CVA" can have that effect. This disc bristles with energy and spit.


With all the bad rap-metal, overproduced cock rock, and otherwise lame music masquerading under the title of “hardcore” these days, it’s great to hear from Dan Yemin again. After his involvement with the seminal Lifetime and the equally powerful Kid Dynamite, Yemin steps behind the mic for Paint It Black’s pummeling debut, CVA.

Clocking in at 17 tracks in just over 18 minutes, CVA harkens back to a pre-Warped Tour, pre-emo era, and fills each of it’s basement anthems with enough fist-pumping, throat-shredding power to make it seem like this sort of thing never faded into memory. Filled with energy and purpose after a stroke (CVA is a medical abbreviation for “cerebrovascular accident”), Yemin packs the disc with raging reevaluations of life, from the personal to the political. “Too quick to step up to fisticuffs/I think it’s time someone called our bluff/we can’t create so we denigrate/we don’t know how to love so we settle for hate,” stars off the raging “Womb Envy;” similar sentiments fill the disc. The power of the music is obvious, but the focused aggression of the lyrical attack is even more striking; a line like “we’ll be dancing on your grave, fire in our eyes,” from the ode to the DIY scene, “Head Hurts Hands On Fire,” only further emphasizes the fact that this music is made by people who’s sonic attack is as relentless as their ideological force.

While good charlatans will continue to tarnish words like “punk” for years to come, Paint It Black remind us of the original meaning – and why it still matters – with all the kick of a chair to the face. CVA comes highly recommended.