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April 1, 2005

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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


Amy Phillips