Folks, I am full-on crushing on Dr. Daniel Mathias Jebediah Yemin. Obviously, living so close to Philadelphia means he’s always been a punk icon for me, but right now, I’m in the middle of Yem-love. Dude’s original main squeeze, Lifetime, is opening for the Bouncing Souls this Sunday [review obviously submitted few days before--ed.]. I just listened to the entire Kid Dynamite / Armalite discography in like 23 seconds. Seriously, those songs are so awesomely short. And his other, other, other band, Paint It Black, is following up New Lexicon, the best hardcore record of 2008, with a pair of seven-inches/digital downloads. The first one, Amnesia, came out last June on Bridge Nine Records, while a second one, Surrender, dropped this [last--ed.] week on Fat Wreck Chords.
Amnesia cycles through five songs in less than 10 minutes. Surrender does four in less than seven. It’s a little retro for the band by default, since it lacks Lexicon’s experimental hip-hop/electronic edges. But given that the seven-inch idea was meant to honor hardcore’s past, retro is fitting. Opener “Sacred” is the closest the band has come to writing a Kid Dynamite-style song, featuring fast-as-frick hardcore/punk with a bit of melody, plus a bass solo to break things up a bit.
But any possibility that Surrender was tailor-made to feature poppier tunes for Fat Wreck is quickly dispelled by the other A-side song, “Worms.” It starts out fast and fuming before settling into a slower, more deliberate form of aggression. The band goes into the penultimate cut time, as Yemin foams like a mad dog while the rest of the band issues discordant blasts from their instruments on the downbeat. Things eventually shift back into a standard hardcore beat, but the whole song is so primal and powerful that it’s easily my favorite track on the EP.
The B-side switches gears again, as the 46-second “Cipher” amps the BPMs back up. Paint It Black has always venerated hardcore’s roots while simultaneously adding forward-thinking elements musically, and that applies to Surrender’s lyrics as well. “Sacred” skips nostalgia to focus on how far the narrator has come since his self-destructive days of youth, and “Cipher” takes a similar stance against the way things used to be, decrying “Fraudulent allegiances, cheap facades / Our father’s flags, our mother’s gods” before warning the old guard, “This could be the dawn of a brand new day / So get out of our way.”
The title track ties the past (“No more shame for what’s underneath my skin / No more nostalgia for the face I wore when I was young”), present (“We try to decipher the truth from the lie / There were bolder lines in those analog times”), and future (“And I think I know what you’re wishing / So I’m renewing my vows / No more giving up, no more giving in”) together into a mantra self-determination. “Surrender” is about anything but.
Surrender brings PiB’s 2009 track count up to nine, almost a full-length’s worth. While Surrender and Amnesia were conceived from a place of modesty -- “We can’t think of a single hardcore punk band that has released more than three awesome full-length records, and we’re not nearly arrogant enough to imagine that we’ll be the first band to make that happen,” quoth the members -- it’s clear that Paint It Black is still one of the strongest, boldest hardcore bands out there today.
And they copy the Smiths’ billing (“Dan Yemin: Voice, Andy Nelson: The Bass Guitar,” and so on and so forth) in the liner notes, which I totally geeked out over.