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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Paint It Black
New Lexicon
Jade Tree

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


February 14, 2008
I'm a young man. I missed the hey-day of early eighties hardcore, sneaking into shows at the Mabuhay Gardens and getting someone else's blood in my eyes. I've heard, via documentaries, of the rebellion against Reagan and the Cold War-era Leave It To Beaver Americana, and I'm angry that I wasn't alive and breathing at the time to throw up a middle finger alongside Henry Rollins.

It's said that the culture burned out almost as quickly as it started - since there's only so much that could've been done with two chords (five if you were at a Bad Brains show) and a mission - but I do my best to avoid bullshit when I see it. The poster child of punk rock will exist (albeit perhaps a bit more thematically watered-down and aimed at Hot Topic shoppers) as long as there are authority figures and until science finds a way to circumvent puberty; it's big brother, Hardcore, will continue to be the suicide bomber, willing to lay its ass on the line and rail against the things that the rest of us try to tune out. It's true that the urgency which once gave such movements a pulse is generally lacking today, but now - whether it be thanks to the current cultural landscape or the fact that the kids that were too young to know that Hardcore was pronounced D.O.A. in 1986 are now writing the soundtracks to their own history - there are tremors of a new movement.

I first heard echoes of footsteps in the general direction of Hardcore's halcyon days with the 2006 release of Fucked Up's seminal Hidden World, the first Truly Important Punk Album in God Knows How Long, and now with New Lexicon, another gem from the long-forgotten Jade Tree label, Paint It Black have given further weight to a renewed promise and relevancy of Hardcore, upholding a proud tradition without being derivative or treading in tired waters.

Paint It Black's sound is classic, borrowing the fury of Black Flag as well as the social consciousness of Minor Threat, and managing to inhabit a unique textural space by using strikingly clean production and unnerving studio sound effects to stretch out palpable tension when necessary. Hell, Dan Yemin's gutsy bellowing even manages to sound a little bit like Rollins himself, and while the group might lose points with finicky purists for their use of melody in a smattering of the tracks, the doses in "Past Tense, Future Perfect" and "Shell Game Redux" aren't there to cater to the hated commercial vampires; they are embers of genuine hope, and their existence is one of the group's greatest strengths.

It's the dualism of Paint It Black's passionate anger and their optimism that makes New Lexicon succeed as much as it does, and Yemin's rawness in tracks like "New Folk Song" and "Severence" coexist peacefully with the determined optimism their lyrics reveal. The album's abruptness (fifteen tracks race by in just over thirty minutes) serves the group well, as it prevents their simple, urgent attack from becoming stale, and while it may not be another Damaged, it is an effort sewn of seeds of the same kind of passion - and as deeply rooted in the troubles of its own time and place - to be a worthy addition to that album's proud and storied legacy.

Reviewed by Dave Toropov
Introduced to music in the womb with a pair of headphones on his mother's stomach, Dave Toropov has yet to recover the experience. A writer based in Boston and New York, he has also written for Prefix Magazine and What Was It Anyway, and is the maintainer of the "Middleclass Haunt" blog.

See other reviews by Dave Toropov

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