Since forming in 2002, Philadelphia’s Paint It Black have rewritten the rules of hardcore punk with each new release. Across three full-length albums and three seven-inch EPs, the four-piece of vocalist Dan Yemin, bassist Andy Nelson, guitarist Josh Agran, and drummer Jared Shavelson have been crafting concise, incisive statements that meld hardcore’s fury with a nuanced lyrical perspective. On Famine, the band’s upcoming 12-inch on Revelation Records, Paint It Black shows all sides of itself, returning as inspired—and inspiring—as they were a decade ago.
Famine is the product of years of plotting, planning, and prepping, with the goal of making the most impactful statement possible. In many ways, Famine is a record about the blurring between history and mythology, especially as it pertains to the current moment in America. On Famine, Yemin explores the stories we grew up being told—the truths, the lies, and everything in between. Yemin’s vocals, as charged as ever, sound like a decade’s worth of frustration has finally boiled over, allowing him to dissect the rose-colored tellings of American history with surgical precision. Similar to this exploratory lyrical approach, the music on Famine creates richer textures out of pieces rarely found on hardcore punk albums, as distinct struts shift between pummeling pieces and melodic touches in ways that continually take the listener by surprise.
Throughout the eight songs that make up Famine, Paint It Black proves that the most potent hardcore punk releases are ones that come from a space of vulnerability, honesty, and authenticity. It’s what makes each moment on Famine feel vibrant and vital, just like Paint It Black has always done.
The last time drummer Brendan Canty and bassist Joe Lally were in a band together, they were the rhythmic architects for Fugazi, an organization whose decade and a half of disciplined progressivism provided a necessary bridge between the zenith of late-punk expression and everything alternative in rock that followed. In 2016, the two were enlisted by guitarist Anthony Pirog in a conspiracy to subvert and reimagine the power trio, bringing fully into the 21st Century a form that may have reached near perfection with Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys on the very first day of the 1970s.
With a self-titled recording scheduled for release in the Spring of 2018 on Dischord, the Messthetics will widen the reach of a decisive instrumental music that so far, they have only shared with a privileged handful of east coast and southern audiences. Across its eight original compositions and one cover, Anthony guides the sound through complex changes and harmonic densities that might compound, but never confound or muddy its connection with the listener’s body. Recorded by Brendan in their practice space, the group’s debut gives Anthony ample opportunities to swap guitar textures and styles as freely as an octopus changes patterns.
Brendan’s kit has a big heavy bell that he brought back from the Fugazi days. He maneuvers through this rhythmically shifty music with a fluid briskness that is periodically disrupted by the clang of his bell. Joe spent 8 years in Italy, among other things, woodshedding on eastern rhythms counted in 7 and 13, perfect preparation for the oddly-metered work of the Messthetics. He brings a rock solid foundation to the groove at the same time playing a harmonic complement as ambitious and interesting as Anthony’s lines.
Bands can be dangerous when their members have accrued enough mileage to see their chops season into something like musical wisdom. When that understanding has the rare opportunity to percolate through a collaborative environment founded in love and anchored in gratitude, well, then shit can get rather intense. Anthony Pirog writes difficult music because original music usually is. Yet the ideas that he feeds through the Messthetics, are embraced by the Canty-Lally time machine, not just with precision and nuance, but with soul, joy, and groove. These last three are, indeed, the big guns in this spiritual war that music must become in the post-Trump era.
Their performances and this debut recording have a lift and buoyancy that reflect back into the audience the love and gratitude at the foundation of this trio’s journey.
SPACED jumped onto the scene with one single mission: to play hardcore and have fun. Nearly two years after the start of the band, the mission remains the same. After a slew of releases, including 2022’s album/compilation “Spaced Jams” released on NEW MORALITY ZINE, the band is back with two new sizzling tracks that demonstrate no intention of slowing down. “BOOMERANG” and “CYCLE KILLER” are as anthemic and hard hitting as they are catchy. SPACED takes the classic sound of hardcore and punk and challenges the boundaries with their “far out” approach. The hope is that these two new tracks will add to the band’s explosive live show.
Coming in hot at the start of 2023 is RASKOL— a band birthed from a particularly booming Philadelphia hardcore punk scene. Members also played in N.E.G., Blueprint, and Nine of Swords, this time around taking it more raw than ever before while still managing to pack a hard punch. This is undoubtedly achieved with help from Philly producer Trish Quigley, who was also the ears behind that insane Kinetic Orbital Strike recording (the toms, ughh), and Trish once again delivers a nice crunchy tape affected mix that will warm your ears and melt your brain. RASKOL also manages to scratch many different itches in just 4 songs, with each track a different style and pace, yet they come together in this perfect noisey storm that will only leave you wanting more. When it’s all over, take the ride again. You won’t regret it.