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January 7, 2008

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Paint It Black vocalist (and Lifetime/Kid Dynamite guitarist) Dan Yemin counts Nas and Naked Raygun among his biggest influences, two reference points you’d be forgiven for missing amid PIB’s blistering, Charles Atlas-lean hardcore. But on the band’s third album—and first with new drummer Jared Shavelson (None More Black, the Hope Conspiracy) and guitarist Josh Agran (Knives Out, Affirmative Action Jackson)—Yemin’s a bit more open with his hip-hop and Chicago-punk touchstones. Again recording live, warm and raw with J. Robbins—who also produced 2005’s excellent Paradise—PIB handed over New Lexicon’s 15 tracks to Dälek producer Oktopus, who fractured, time-stretched and otherwise dosed the material with his psych-fried low-end theory. And on “Shell Game Redux,” a poetic us-against-them rant that leads in from a monstrously distorted Oktopus piece (the ending of “Severance”) before charging toward its anthemic climax, PiB deliver their most direct Chi-punk nod yet: getting Naked Raygun vocalist Jeff Pezzati to call in several rounds of his trademark “whoa-oh-ohs” from a Windy City studio. The result is one of the most powerful album-closing tunes in PIB’s arsenal, as well as one of the heaviest (and bass-heaviest) hardcore songs of this still-young year.

Paint It Black vocalist Dan Yemin on “Shell Game Redux”

There’s a guest producer, but technically speaking, you only have one guest musician on this record: Jeff Pezzati.
Man—a dream. There are three voices in punk that give me chills no matter what context I hear them in: Ian MacKaye, Kevin Seconds and Jeff Pezzati. And when I hear Jeff’s voice come in on “Shell Game,” I still can’t even believe it’s on my record. I wrote the hook to that song with Naked Raygun in mind, and we joked for months, like, “Oh, when Jeff Pezzati sings this part, ha ha ha.” But after a while, I thought, “You know, it doesn’t have to be a joke.” We have two degrees of separation: J. produced [Pezzati’s new band] the Bomb’s last record, and we’re both huge fans. When he produced Paradise, J. and I stayed up all night one night nerding out on Naked Raygun. The guitar player from the Bomb, Jeff Dean, is also an old friend of mine—he’s the first person I ever met with a Lifetime tattoo—and we’ve stayed in touch since we first met around 15 years ago. And so I called J. and Jeff and said, “I’m interested in having Pezzati sing this part; do you think he’d be willing?” Within two days I get this call—I still have the message on my voicemail—like, “Hi, this is Jeff Pezzati; I wanted to talk about how to organize singing that part on your record.” So we sent the tracks to him in Chicago: I have a friend who has a home studio there, and we just set it up and did it there. I was thrilled.

Paper Thin Walls

Aaron Burgess