Feature: What We Talk About When We Talk About Emo

[Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan]

Feature: What We Talk About When We Talk About Emo

by Chad Jewett

In some ways, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the reaction to Eric Ducker’s article for NPR on the “Emo Revival.” Ducker, and his interviewee Brad Nelson, who actually offers most of the piece’s concrete thoughts on contemporary emo, did their best to actually limn a notoriously intangible genre/movement, and while I’m sure there were cooler heads that appreciated the article, it was also met with a lot of loud, ironic eye-rolling. The thing is, it is that irony, that aversion to earnestness — an attitude that has been part and parcel to this resurgence — that might be the biggest thing holding the growth of this music back. The term “emo” is of course a bit silly; calling it post-hardcore doesn’t quite speak to the sound’s potential diversity, calling it emotional hardcore is even more limited. Indie is too broad. But that’s all besides the point – people care about this music, it’s produced records with built-in senses of time, place, community, memory, emotion, and evocation that all records accrue when we end up loving them, but which rarely find ways to actually make part of the music the way that emo has. In other words, Something To Write Home About or Nothing Feels Good are records that manage to inscribe the way my generation thinks about them – as mementos, as dispatches from a cinematic suburbia, as objects fit to a square-shaped space in your backpack. I might feel that way about, say, Kid A, but that has everything to do with how I found a space for Kid A in my life. Stay What You Are showed up perfectly suited for me to make it a part of my worldview, no assembly required – things expanded and contracted along with songs like “Freakish.” As I said in a recent article, the best emo albums just felt shaped to your backyard.

The problem is that that is precisely what is left behind by the way we talk about emo in 2013 – that sense of inclusiveness. And by “we” I don’t mean Erick Ducker and Brad Nelson, or Ian Cohen, or any of the other journalists who are frankly doing this music a favor by taking it seriously and trying to understand it. The “we” I refer to, which is reducing what this music can be, is variably any of us when we scoff at say, Buzzfeed for trying to compile a list of still-extant emo bands worth checking out. There are reasons to critique these lists – they’re painfully white and male, leaving out bands like Kittyhawk, Tancred, Football, etc., Little Big League, and Cayetana. Honestly, I get so much of that old “late-90s wide-open feeling” from those bands, all of whom are simply exciting to listen to in a way that still feels special, even if I’m hearing so much of what I listened to as a kid, re-born and re-energized. The list also doesn’t seem to have time for innovators like Foxing, or Annabel, or Two Knights. It’s almost painfully literal. That said, how did you find out about Diary, person born in 1988? Because you would have to have been preternaturally cool to have picked up on it in 1994 when it came out. No; odds are someone you know was cool enough to let you know about an album they loved, or just as likely, someone blogged about emo records they liked, or you flipped to the listicles that Alternative Press would run in its back pages, often including short-hand guides to emo. We all have some version of this story; we were lucky, and someone helped us out.

The reason folks in their twenties and thirties want to immerse themselves in this sound, the reason why there is an absolute explosion of bands trying to recapture all the little details of the records they cherished the first time around is because of all the kindnesses that made emo feel like such a safe place. I don’t roll my eyes at mid-2000s emo because it was pop music, or because it was well-produced and smartly-packaged. Frankly, I like hooks, I like good production, I like smart composition chops. Smokey Robinson’s “The Tracks of My Tears” is the greatest emo song of all time. It’s a pocket symphony that’s well-written and inclusive and thoughtful. So I have no issue with records that aspire to be pop music. I’d love it if that part of this sound, the attention to song- and studio-craft, made it back into our collective memory as bands try to re-create what we cared about the first time. No; what bothered me about mid-2000s emo was its exclusivity, the ways in which it vilified women, often to the point of misogyny (even Brand New, a band who is still highly-regarded and has released some excellent albums, did its share of this). Emo became unworkable in the 2000s because of the way it refused to grow through and past its song-craft perfection into something a bit more experimental, a bit more wild, a bit more expansive. Emo stopped mattering because it seemingly stopped caring about any commitment to social justice, the stuff that Rites of Spring, and Embrace, and Fugazi (and later, Cursive, Desaparecidos, and nowadays, Hostage Calm) were hell-bent on connecting to our personal narratives, making damn sure the personal and the political stayed entwined, in the hopes that these connections would motivate action.

At one point in Ducker’s article, Brad Nelson writes “So the [emo] revival kind of confirms that there is a solid aesthetic … that this lineage of sound and the sensibility of being open to incorporating wildly divergent influences required to produce it are both repeatable and, uh, inflatable. By which I mean there are still new things that can be done with this music.” I agree with him that there are still new things that can be done; but I’d also argue these new things need to be done. I see bands that “incorporate wildly divergent influences;” indeed, I wrote about Foxing’s new LP, The Albatross, which, in its best moments, shows glimpses of R&B, post-rock, electronic music, folk, and even jazz, not to mention it’s modernist-poetic lyrics. State Faults’ most recent record similarly innovates on the edges of its sound. The Two Knights 12”, released earlier this year, is ostensibly a jazz record, and it’s take on the twitchy Chicago sound, a style which has become dominant in this revival, is incredibly vibrant and innovative. I also find myself impressed with the band’s lyrics, which are incredibly expressionistic in their emotional honesty and admirably self-critical, rather than aggressively critical of others. I’ve seen little mention of Annabel, whose 2012 LP Youth In Youth is all but definitive in its understanding of the ways in which our emotional responses to the world can’t help but be outsized and full of consequence when we’re young. It’s a beautiful album where everything matters, and its precise, melody-resplendent song-craft deserves so much more notice. There’s no reason to begrudge bands for feeling attached to certain styles, but Two Knights, and Foxing, and State Faults, and Annabel offer excellent lessons in how there is also no reason to stop there. In other words, there are some bands “incorporating wildly divergent influences;” we just need to be a lot better about rewarding them.

You can even sense the ways in which Nelson seems to be hedging his bets in these passages. He’s clearly a smart guy who knows that this new emo is insular and will likely take him far less seriously than he or Ducker deserves. And of course it is worrisome when an artistic movement is insular, since insularity tends to be self-breeding. If those of us who care about this music spend our time worrying about it’s borders and by-laws, we do so mainly in the service of scaring off the innovators that would save it. Foreclosing conversation about what emo means and who is making this kind of music in 2013 runs the risk of a similar foreclosure on the only thing that really makes emo special – the premium it puts on interconnection. I didn’t exactly have to bend over backwards to find other people who liked The Blueprint in 2002, but it was pretty damn special when I met someone else who loved We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes or Four Cornered Night. That being said, I mention The Blueprint because hip hop might be the best example of what emo can be, how it can innovate and still remain something to connect around. Indeed, there isn’t a whole lot that connects Big K.R.I.T. to Drake to P.O.S. to Nicki Minaj in terms of sound, but they’re all hip hop; the genre has become flexible, and is the most vital musical form in 2013 because everyone worth really investing in right now is gleefully innovating. And guess what: that innovation means more diversity in terms of gender, sexuality, and world-view than ever. Angel Haze and Le1F put out stunning mixtapes this year, both in terms of production, and in terms of pushing the boundaries of what we think of when we think about rappers. And people loved those records and records like them because they’re so diverse in terms of sound, worldview, and genre that anyone can find a part of themselves in them. Drake’s newest record, Nothing Was The Same, was of course called “emo” in a tongue-in-check nod to its (admirable) commitment to introspection and self-critique, but, frankly, emo could learn a thing or two from that record’s grip on atmospherics and experimentation. Not to mention that I’ve yet to meet a person that doesn’t love “Hold On We’re Going Home.”

Ultimately, committing to being a bit more open minded about what emo is and who gets to talk about it means those of us who really care about this music can also send a much more inclusive message about who gets to be involved, which should be everyone. Honestly, “emo” works with an inherent advantage; through its very terminology (emo, emotive, emotional) it broadcasts its own vitality as a music about connection, and introspection, and spaces for feeling and self-expression. Odds are, the reason you gravitated to emo in the first place is because it was saying something that you needed to hear; records like Every Night Fireworks or No Good For No One Now or Clarity were of a like mind to wherever you were at. The same probably goes for Long Knives Drawn or The Execution of All Things for that matter (two records that are left out of the conversation for reasons utterly beyond me). These are records uniquely situated to capture your imagination and offer some much-needed empathy. Of course that means a tendency to want to possess them as artifacts, to keep them to yourself, but realistically, the reason you or I have any relationship with these albums, these bands, this sound, at all, is because someone before us understood that this music only makes sense if it operates as an open, accessible space. Someone was cool enough not to hoard this sound or its access. Pay it forward; share this stuff!

That’s what discourages me about the sarcasm and irony, the unwillingness to be earnest; it’s what troubles me about the subtle ways in which bands that experiment or play with formula are often left off of show bills, ignored; it’s what makes the abandonment of the political side of self-honesty that Ian MacKaye was driving at so depressing. Frankly, it’s even a bit dispiriting to hear so many songs about getting high or getting drunk when the history we’re all talking about was a lot more self-critical and, at its best, empowering. Hostage Calm proudly and bravely announced their support of same-sex marriage on t shirts, and theirs is an example that should be followed and embraced. Yet it depresses me to say I’ve seen and heard their efforts towards inclusion and progressive activism mocked, as if people are afraid to actually care about something the way Hostage Calm clearly does. What could be more incoherent than people devoted to a movement called “emo” being unwilling to care? How about exploring the emotional tolls of sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, weightism? There aren’t a lot of safe spaces, and emo really could be one. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for young people committed to social justice and progressive change to make art that furthers that cause, but emo’s history offers so many examples of just that kind of interpersonal activism. I’d say the majority of shows I’ve been to have featured vegan potlucks – that’s incredible! Writers who try to figure out what makes this sound special to us today deserve credit – it’s no easy feat. Thinking about the art we make is an important step to making sure that art lasts, and, more importantly, making sure it grows. Bands that promote and embody diversity deserve credit – you’re pushing everyone else to be better, more thoughtful, more inclusive. When I first happened upon these bands, it’s all I wanted to listen to, and at the best of those still-thriving basement shows, hosted by suburban activists who didn’t bat an eye when I couldn’t afford the $5 door donation, you get the biggest possible definition of “emotional music,” and the best possible future for what we can do with an artistic community that agrees on one thing: that we’ve got so much worth sharing.

Half Cloth

Independent Music & Arts Criticism

67 Responses

  1. Ed says:

    Interesting article. Thanks for writing and sharing 🙂
    I have to scratch my head though. There seems to be a little duality to it, that I don’t follow. The title, says what “we” talk about. This seems to be a pretty big blanket statement, and conflicts with the idea of an inclusive vs exclusive group. To make a point on which where you feel the genre needs to go and how it needs to function and the people in said group talk about it, is in itself is making it an exclusive group. You site modern pop, rap and RnB as a model to which emo can be, but then state “How about exploring the emotional tolls of sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, weightism? There aren’t a lot of safe spaces, and emo really could be one.” Once again I feel this would make it an exclusive group, especially if you look at rap. Some rap is violent, racist, sexist, and hate-filled, and some takes on social and cultural issues, and promotes community. One cannot exist without the other. The music is nothing more than a vehicle. A vehicle for the artist to take in which ever way they feel fit. To deny one artist’s interpretation on it denies their reality, and by doing that makes it an unsafe place. If you take the example of anger, anger is an emotion, and some artists choose to use it in their music. Now to label some anger as inappropriate prevents people from exploring the realm of anger. As an example labeling some anger as misogyny and saying only certain forms of anger are allowed because other forms are inappropriate is not emotional honesty. You need a full spectrum of an emotion to achieve true emotional honesty. Sometimes emotions can be ugly. I would argue that labeling emo as a safe place is in itself exclusive because by saying that you are trying to make something into something that it may not be, and that fight will only end up in exclusion.

  2. Joe C says:


    Nice to debunk the white male myth of emo, but I still wonder about your lack of inclusion to bands which actual sound anything close to hardcore?

    Not a criticism per se, I’m just dying to read an article about emo in 2013 which actually recognises that NOT ALL emo bands went softer with time, and that the hardcore punk roots of emo are infact pushed the other way, perhaps these bands don’t have enough crossover appeal to indie rock or pop punk kids, or perhaps they are harder to digest, but there are tonnes of emo bands which play hard, fast, aggressive music and there has been since the late 80s.


    • Chad Jewett says:


      I absolutely agree that my take on this renaissance focuses less on the heavier, more hardcore-indebted bands you cite. This was certainly not meant as a slight; indeed, those bands deserve attention and credit from someone who has the knowledge to offer proper attention and due credit. I hesitated in that regard mainly because my own experiences (indeed, this article is written from a certain subjectivity) were more valuable in regards to discussing the versions of this sound I did focus on; in other words, I didn’t feel like I was the man to tackle the sounds and movements you’re referring to. We mentioned State Faults, who are considerably heavier than the other bands I discussed, but I agree with you, the sounds you’re referring to have tended to get left out of the conversation, and I’m guilty of that too.

    • Ed says:

      I agree thanks for debunking the white male myth of emo. When I read the article that this is a response to, I was quite confused because on my current playlist at that time there was a majority of bands with women members/artists being represented. I am glad I am not alone in seeing that there are more women in music than 25 years ago.

  3. Ed says:

    One last thing.
    There will always be the battle of traditionalist vs the progressive. There will always be bands that dig deep into the godfathers of a genre and there will be those who try to incorporate new influences and end up making a giant shift, primarily because they are bored with the restraints of the genre. I feel this was the big thing that led to the mid 2000’s version of emo. People heard a catchy pop song and went that road, others got tired of punk and incorporated folk, others got excited by atmospheric qualities of post rock. They all went there separate ways and emo was somewhat left behind. I am just glad it is back because I felt there were many things that did not get explored the first time around, but it won’t surprise me that another era will strike this revival that will be very similar to that of the mid 2000’s.

  4. Melissa says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for mentioning Rainer Maria! I feel like everyone else talking about emo has conveniently forgot that one of the most powerful voices in the movement was that of Caithlin De Marrais.

  1. December 5, 2013

    […] had some excited diner-fed late nights where they were as giddy as this record makes me. I’ve written elsewhere about Annabel and just how salient and peerless I really think they are in this emo renaissance, […]

  2. December 16, 2013

    […] for bands like Two Knights, who are making the twinkle and shimmer of the math-y, Chicago sound of contemporary emo work in a variety of new settings. In the case of “A Dime is a Titan,” that means letting the […]

  3. April 11, 2014

    […] that scenes don’t bother to spend much time with them. I’ve written elsewhere about how the emo renaissance was built upon signifiers that could clarify what was “in” and “out” like a secret code – […]

  4. April 19, 2014

    […] rediscovery of their first two albums and the renaissance wave of emo that held the band as a standard bearer. As such, the song is something of a mini-event, on par with, and in some ways exceeding the new […]

  5. May 6, 2014

    […] to 2012’s essential Maybe You, No One Else Worth It (one of the finest, most meditative albums of emo’s recent renaissance), “T-Minus” builds upon that album’s complex design of inter-folding harmonies, tangled […]

  6. May 7, 2014

    […] in reverse, that there is a very definite aesthetic, more specific than “pop punk” or “emo,” that Beach Slang is tracing with breezy, adept […]

  7. May 8, 2014

    […] our first listen from Braid’s upcoming LP, No Coast (their first since the 1998 emo landmark Frame & Canvas), is of a piece with much of what we’ve received from the Illinois […]

  8. May 11, 2014

    […] to the mixed-feeling poetry of hometowns, cul-de-sacs, lawns. The downside of all of that remains emo’s frequent distance from the outside world, its inability to even attempt to connect to (or at its worse, even embrace) anything beyond those […]

  9. May 26, 2014

    […] to heft. And they’d be correct. But one still gets the sense that, for those invested in how emo and post-hardcore might find a way to turn its newfound energy into innovation, there’s a lot to be excited about […]

  10. June 2, 2014

    […] the band will finally release their full-length follow-up to that 1998 classic with No Coast, via modern emo tastemakers Topshelf Records. “Bang,” our first listen from No Coast, largely reflected the […]

  11. June 4, 2014

    […] naturalistically affecting, like a snapshot of a suburban park. The foremost value of much of the emo renaissance has been this narrative investment in memory, nostalgia, and its complications (see The Hotelier, […]

  12. June 5, 2014

    […] the many words one might use to render the contemporary renaissance of post-hardcore music, “compact” feels like an apt one – perhaps “life-sized.” The sound of modern emo is […]

  13. June 6, 2014

    […] call American Analog Set emo would be to instigate any number of gatekeepers. Yet the band’s brand of translucent, […]

  14. June 7, 2014

    […] rest of the album, “In Silver River” holds the twinkling surfaces and slow-phase mathematics of emo at its most pensive, but it is also wholly expansive, finding poignant ways to make all of that refracting light […]

  15. June 9, 2014

    […] of punk, the last four decades of indie rock. Like Annabel and Dowsing, Brave Bird is offering multiple ways forward for post-hardcore through their increasing attention to atmosphere, ambiance, and space, while simultaneously honing […]

  16. June 11, 2014

    […] could even imagine that kind of arc for Foxing. Indeed, like Deja Entendu (which ended up marking a fascinating sea-change in punk and emo music), the sound, mood, and narratives of The Albatross are both wholly surprising and instantly […]

  17. June 12, 2014

    […] a good span of the 90s and early 2000s, fans of indie rock, emo, punk, and post-hardcore could set their watch by Jade Tree Records. The limited economy of […]

  18. June 13, 2014

    […] conversation on the groundswell of new hardcore and emo has to quickly reference Boston, Massachusetts. Seemingly just as quickly, one must attribute a […]

  19. June 16, 2014

    […] work of post-hardcore mathematics and emotional expressionism and a model of instinctually catchy emo effervescence, Shut Up, the debut full-length from Texas duo Two Knights, manages to make even the […]

  20. June 18, 2014

    […] a rich, luminous three minutes of guitar pop.  Like the similarly reunited and similarly beloved post-hardcore quintet The Jazz June, Basement seem to be focusing on the joys of economically-paced, blissed-out […]

  21. June 19, 2014

    […] of The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me borders on self-indulgence; it also cannily excoriates the solipsism of emo. Indeed, Jesse Lacey is quick to ask: “Who do you carry that torch for, my young man? / Do you […]

  22. June 20, 2014

    […] later). Orange Rhyming Dictionary, the band’s first album, was a taut, prickly combination of post-hardcore, Brit-Pop, and indie rock. Only partially predictive of the more lush, pensive surfaces to come on […]

  23. June 25, 2014

    […] in mind. Certainly the band is representative of a certain midwestern tradition of shimmery, dreamy emo, the kind of thing you might associate with Appleseed Cast (Lawrence, Kansas), along with the more […]

  24. June 26, 2014

    […] days all at once as Shettel sings “Now it’s all the same.” Like the best in emo’s second wave, of which Piebald was one of the greatest innovators and philosophers, “King of the Road” […]

  25. June 27, 2014

    […] a decade or so from now, the 2012 LP from Ohio emo quartet Annabel has somehow managed to be both one of the genre’s new masterpieces and one of its most underrated achievements. Like The Hotelier’s Home, Like NoPlace Is There, or […]

  26. July 7, 2014

    […] Coast, the long-awaited fourth full-length from Champaign-Urbana emo innovators Braid, feels instantly familiar. The album’s twelve songs and forty minutes are uncannily warm […]

  27. July 9, 2014

    […] stretch through the song’s bridge and outro. Like much of the idiosyncratically mathematic midwestern emo which Tiny Moving Parts use as a template, the band’s effusive, interweaving riffs are the tail […]

  28. July 16, 2014

    […] a quartet from Philadelphia who make punk music variably inflected by the twisting surfaces of emo (think Bear vs. Shark) and the echo-y blooms of modern indie pop (think Local Natives), seemed […]

  29. July 17, 2014

    […] If “3 Musketeers” is a would-be solstice song that just ends up bit too resplendent of falling leaves, then O Captain, an emo quartet from Yorkshire, England, dispense with any pretense by naming their newest single “Summer Party Jam.” The song certainly has melody on its side, and an athletic two-minute running time, and a nifty closing hook (“Turn out the bright lights!”). Beginning with a deceptive bit of lo-fi strums and quickly bursting into the kind of thick, sparkling collegiate melodic punk that was last hitting an ideal vintage on Stay What You Are and Bleed American, “Summer Party Jam” is a remarkably confident dispatch of honed, economic pop-emo. […]

  30. July 22, 2014

    […] these tracks feel intuitive, grasping the first melody that comes to mind. Like the early days of emo’s modern renaissance, during which the movement’s sound was defined by the ad-hoc idiosyncrasies of Snowing, 1994!, […]

  31. July 24, 2014

    […] part of a mini-generation of bands that would end up more or less rescuing, then retrofitting, the aesthetics of emo. If the genre found its first real creative explosion in the cerebral expressionism and reedy […]

  32. July 31, 2014

    […] after the seminal D.C. emo originators had already broken up, All Through A Life was Rites of Spring’s final release, a four […]

  33. August 11, 2014

    […] peers Fairweather, Frontier(s) are grasping at something kinetic and fraught — their memory of emo extends to the nervy anxiety and sudden epiphanies of an early 90s mid-Atlantic. Even the brightest […]

  34. August 18, 2014

    […] and Christie Front Drive. At their best, the band manages to remind one of the wide swaths of mid-90s Great Plains emo that has remained peripheral in the sound’s contemporary renaissance. In a modern wave more […]

  35. August 22, 2014

    […] Youth In Youth remains one of the two or three most ambitious and finely-crafted records of the emo renaissance. Even more incredible is the fact that this archetypal stuff ends up as dense, thrilling pop music, […]

  36. November 3, 2014

    […] signature a passage of second-wave emo as the pick-slide intro of “Holiday” or the buzzing radio wash of “The New Nathan […]

  37. November 7, 2014

    […] tour-de-force of the moment right before Jawbreaker’s thoughtful confessionalism would establish emo’s modern parameters. You can listen to Unfun and embrace its energy of possibility, at times a relief from the curdled […]

  38. February 5, 2015

    […] A Beautiful Place’s Between Bodies and The Jazz June’s After The Earthquake) that overtly defy the aesthetic confines of emo. In that sense, Hyperview is both a considerable risk and a welcome departure. Above and beyond the […]

  39. February 9, 2015

    […] when taking in the trio’s verdant, charmingly rumpled melange of indie-rock and second-wave emo. Modest Mouse, Built To Spill, the more diffuse passages of early Death Cab For Cutie — all […]

  40. February 16, 2015

    […] Secret Grief make a gorgeously languid, impeccably sculpted blend of emo, indie rock, and slowcore, unfolding like an intersection of fellow Midwesterners Joie De Vivre and […]

  41. February 23, 2015

    […] Boissonnault is a confident, gifted dramatist, finding room for the matching lilt, the touching falsetto, the just-right gracenote so often that Something So Personal’s grip on the subtle alchemy of guitar pop begins to feel air-tight. Which is a good thing, since amongst the many revelations to be found on the album is the unapologetic élan the band shows in bringing tunefulness and a songwriter’s sense of direction to emo. “This Song Is Definitely Not About A Boy” doesn’t just share a (welcome) point about indie-boy elitism with Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together”. It also smuggles in some of that song’s humor and conversational feminism (though one might be given pause by a line like “You look so ugly when you cry” on an album that is otherwise so deeply human and humane), while adding a precise and much-needed critique of punk scene sexism. […]

  42. March 2, 2015

    […] a good span of the 90s and early 2000s, fans of indie rock, emo, punk, and post-hardcore could set their watch by Jade Tree Records. The limited economy of […]

  43. March 20, 2015

    […] listening to Pet Symmetry, a Chicago emo trio featuring members of Into It. Over It., Kittyhawk, and Dowsing — all bands with their […]

  44. April 7, 2015

    […] Spanish has aged into a more-or-less singular vintage, standing as one of the last great albums of emo’s storied 1994-to-2003 run (let’s call Deja Entendu the swan song), and certainly one of the […]

  45. April 10, 2015

    […] Hair” comes and goes in a minute and forty-six seconds, marrying folk-pop austerity to thick, emo strums, dotted with electric piano. Once again, the song’s choppy rhythm and tight run-time only […]

  46. April 13, 2015

    […] The LP will be 180-gram, on clear vinyl, and is just about essential for anyone doing their emo homework who wants to check out the AP calculus to American Football’s […]

  47. April 14, 2015

    […] the cerebral, looping aesthetics of emo’s second-wave increasingly become gospel for the genre in 2015, the salient new records are the […]

  48. April 14, 2015

    […] as you spend your two-and-half minutes with Brand New’s new single, “Mene”. The Long Island emo quartet has often submerged themselves in this kind of mythic-classical gloom. The band’s best […]

  49. April 20, 2015

    […] young people hopelessly caught between adolescence and adulthood, it makes all kinds of sense that emo legends American Football would reference J.D. Salinger in their shimmering, pensive “Letters and […]

  50. April 27, 2015

    […] that, despite their growth, Nai Harvest still has a place for their 90s influences and rumpled emo […]

  51. May 4, 2015

    […] is gonna happen to me”. It’s all in line with what Hop Along does best: take the spare parts of emo, alt-country, math rock, and late ‘80s SST indie and re-shape it at will (indeed only the more […]

  52. May 8, 2015

    […] for “Already Heard”, isn’t just a dig at the turgid current of early-to-mid-2000s punk and emo – it now speaks for many people’s relationship with the album. Like Through Being Cool or […]

  53. May 12, 2015

    […] a quintet from Grand Rapids Michigan, make a particularly pastoral brand of emo: slow-phase guitar pop balanced with atmosphere-heavy alt-country. “33 Beers On New […]

  54. May 25, 2015

    […] which borrows the diagonal power-pop strums of late-career Phantom Planet while adding some post-hardcore heft, all stitched together by Weiss’s elastic hooks. The song is less than two minutes long, and […]

  55. June 1, 2015

    […] Midwest Pen Pals, Merchant Ships, William Bonney, and Sailor Folk, is the kind of song that takes emo’s artfully tangled aesthetic and shapes it into something elliptical and impressionistic. Spacious and breezy, the song makes […]

  56. July 15, 2015

    […] CYLS Split Series has served as something of an emo state of the union, ranging from the all-time-great convening of Annabel, Empire! Empire!, Joie De […]

  57. August 26, 2015

    […] that stylized misery – the song is certainly part of why Pinkerton is now considered an essential emo document – but, as is so often the case with Cuomo, sets it to a clever pop melody replete with a […]

  58. September 18, 2015

    […] you need of Dear You’s second life – the much-deserved renaissance it has enjoyed following emo’s third wave – can be found in its contemporary echoes. There’s the wordy pop-punk of “Bad Scene, […]

  59. February 28, 2016

    […] of this attention is only doing the genre a service. As Chad Jewett points out on Half Cloth, “How did you find out about Diary, person born in 1988? Because you would have to have been […]

  60. November 21, 2016

    […] we see You Blew It! recalling, of all people, The Starting Line, one of many artists who weathered emo’s glib, facile early-2000s low-points to make a record (in their case, 2005’s cult-classic-to-be Based On A True Story) that balanced […]

  61. January 17, 2017

    […] – Analphabetapolothology Analphabetapolothology, the Jade Tree-released collection from Illinois emo godfathers Cap’n Jazz, is so definitive a release that for most fans of the band the 2-disc […]

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