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.

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