Review: Painted Eyes – “Demo 2018”

Talk about modesty. The Pittsburgh trio Painted Eyes quietly dropped its debut release, the appropriately titled Demo 2018, on Bandcamp Wednesday, not making a fuss or even providing so much as a cursory biography about the band.

And the thing is pretty damn incredible.

For punks addicted to Damaged-era Black Flag or even early Bad Religion, Painted Eyes’ new demo could become the stuff of local legend – five blasts of punk energy, laced with a lot of dimension, which leaves the skin blistered and burned. For evidence, look no further than “Burn,” the second song, where distorted guitars race shockingly nuanced bass work over hooky melodies, or “Marks,” which features an understated guitar solo that could make Ginn blush. Or the menacing, multi-dimensional “Grasp.” Or the opener, “Human” – listen to that goddamned bridge, man! – which makes second-wavers like Pennywise look like they’re cribbing and nothing more.

What’s amazing, though, is this thing gets better as it goes along. (These guys far from shoot their load on opening tracks, that’s for sure.) “White Walls,” the closer – and the longest track at 2:46 – is a piece of Fugazi-inspired bliss right off Steady Diet of Nothing, complete with a two-singer chorus. The thing that grabs you about the thing, though, is its dexterity, whether that’s drums rolling over a trebly guitar or the way bassist Matt’s scales are the glue that hold together descending parts. The thing is well-played and well-recorded – our only hint on Bandcamp is the band recorded and mixed it on its own this winter – and sounds way more thought-out than some band just breaking out of the gate at gun-shot.

It’s 10 or so engaging minutes of excellent punk that has no business being a debut demo. And, hey, since it bears a name-your-own-price tag, there’s no excuse for you not to check it out. – Justin Vellucci, Punksburgh, March 9, 2018

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About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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