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Started by Dickie_Anders, August 06, 2022, 11:44:13 AM

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Emo music. I love it. But then it depends what you mean when you say "emo" doesn't it?

The shit I liked as a teenager is what's referred to as the "emo revival", from the early 2010s. Sometimes referred to as "twinkly emo". A lot of it has a very distinctive noodly guitar style, and sometimes strange time signatures. The vocals are nasally and nakedly normal-sounding. Some were also keen to experiment with samples and synths. The emo holy trinity for me are The Brave Little Abacus, Snowing and Heccra. Fucking love them

This is what I'd always considered "true emo". But I subsequently learned there's older stuff from the 80s/90s that sounds very different, much closer to American hardcore punk. "Skramz" I think it's called by the true heads. Lots more screaming there, which is true for some of the revival stuff too to be fair. Some of them get away with it but some of it's too much for me, personally.

Then there was that weird bit in the 2000s when a lot of mainstream pop acts who wore eyeliner were referred to as "emo", even though they seemed to bear very little musical resemblance to anything previously or subsequently called "emo".

What does this forum make of this much maligned, treasured by some, most American of genres?

Yeah it kind of became meaningless as a term at some point. Sort of like "dubstep"


I like a lot of the DC Revolution Summer stuff, although a lot seems painfully earnest (though it makes sense in the context of the time; three years prior a lot of these cats were running around in boots with shaved heads getting in fights all the time - as exemplified by the transition of Iron Cross into Gray Matter). Especially the music of Embrace, the bad emo (or emocore) was coined to pejoratively describe. But still, a remarkably influential scene, especially as it lasted such a short time & hardly any of the bands ever played outside DC.

Rites of Spring's sole LP is still the gold standard for the genre as far as I'm concerned - & still an unashamedly PUNK record, rather than half arsed Smashing Pumpkinsesque Alternative Rock:

The Faith were always a little in the shadow of others (of Void, of Ian MacKaye) but they would flower as Ignition, who unlike most of their peers toured extensively:

Reptile House (from Baltimore, not DC, but fellow travellers) would morph into the much better known Lungfish, but their 7" is one of the best lesser known efforts from the era:

The afore mentioned Gray Matter:


Can't avoid mentioning Husker Du, who influenced just about everyone:


1990's emo is a weird one, as it became increasingly distanced from its hardcore roots. Terms like post hardcore, indie rock, emo etc. could be used interchangeably. Sebadoh, for example, could easily fall under the emo rubric (impeccable hardcore roots, personal lyrics etc.) yet they're the archetypal indie rock band. Plus you started getting more & more bands (pace Hoover) using odd time signatures, quiet/loud dynamics & so on (there were loads of bands like this in the UK - Polaris, Fabric, Baby Harp Seal et al), & the influence of Slint (yet more ex-HC kids) became increasingly prominent.

This is all a bit rambling, but in short emo seemed to mean lots of things, it it's precise meaning was as hard to pinpoint as a Derrida footnote. But by the end of the decade it was also used to describe appalling soft rock tripe like Texas is the Reason or Jimmy Eat World, which became it's dominant usage in the 21st century when the term eventually broke in the mainstream.


Interesting and confusing responses so far. In terms of skramz, that's a term for screamo which was stuff like Pg. 99, Circle Takes the Square, Saetia, an offshoot. The late '80s stuff was basically just hardcore with emotive rather than political lyrics, Rites of Spring the clear example. Some of the early post-hardcore bands often get tagged with it - when I first discovered Drive Like Jehu, they were being called emo - and then the slightly whiny, mellow indie stuff (Sunny Day Real Estate, Texas is the Reason), some with a pop-punk leaning (Jimmy Eat World) got tagged with it as well. And then there's the American Football style, the jazzy math-rock tinged stuff that's in the OP, which is probably the only type of emo that isn't really 'xx genre with emotive lyrics'.
Quote from: cosmic-hearse on August 06, 2022, 02:19:40 PMTexas is the Reason or Jimmy Eat World, which became it's dominant usage in the 21st century when the term eventually broke in the mainstream.
In my experience, it was the melodic extension of screamo ('pop screamo' as it's sometimes called) that became the dominant usage in the 21st century, the stuff that came off the back of Thursday and Glassjaw. The Used, Funeral for a Friend, Thrice, Hawthorn Heights, Hopesfall, Alexisonfire and so on. I found that late '90s version fell into disuse at that time.

And then there's the broad 'anything a bit whiny' definition, which is how I've seen bands like Dashboard Confessional called emo despite owing very little to any version of the term.

I have some fondness for some of the pop screamo stuff I listened to for a brief part of my life, although for the most part my favourite stuff was more on the weirder, post-hardcore end of things (These Arms Are Snakes, The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, Yourcodenameis:Milo and a bunch of other bands with ridiculous names). There's a small group of albums which have a raw, punk production despite their much poppier songwriting - the debuts by Thursday, Coheed and Cambria and My Chemical Romance - that always felt like a possible path for emo that was killed off by everything going really polished and commercial sounding; Thursday regained some momentum with their later, post-rock-esque stuff produced by Dave Fridmann. I still listen to some of the British early '00s stuff quite a bit, especially Hell is for Heroes and Hundred Reasons.

In terms of the style mentioned in the opening post, my friend Angel's old band Age Sixteen are worth a listen:


Absolutely all over the place when I was growing up and it made me nauseated then and makes me nauseated now. I never understood why people would want to be emo when goths existed, who were much cooler.

Presumably there is a wave of nostalgic revisionism that makes the case for emo music and fashion being incredible actually but nah.


Quote from: bgmnts on August 06, 2022, 03:45:12 PMPresumably there is a wave of nostalgic revisionism that makes the case for emo music and fashion being incredible actually but nah.

close the thread lads


Quote from: bgmnts on August 06, 2022, 03:45:12 PMI never understood why people would want to be emo when goths existed, who were much cooler.
Probably the two largely unrelated musical styles.


Yeah it's definitely a bit of an umbrella term, interesting to see all the different associations it has. I think bgmnts has hit on what the most popular association of the word "emo" is - basically the lads who wore eyeliner and liked My Chemical Romance, which is very different from what I think of as emo music. Stuff like Algernon Cadwallader, Snowing and Dads, and sometimes the more experimental stuff like The Brave Little Abacus or Heccra.

Sometimes people call it "midwest emo". You can find a lot of videos on YouTube of people playing guitar in that style.


Quote from: purlieu on August 06, 2022, 04:06:32 PMProbably the two largely unrelated musical styles.

you dont remember Orchid's 'shite Deep Purple with synthesizers' phase?


I made a conscious decision to stop listening to emo when the newer bands (at the time) were so derivative yet omnipresent that it me made dislike the records that I previously really enjoyed (Indian Summer, Current, Heroin, Angel Hair, Moss Icon etc etc) due to slavish copying and oversaturation of their once-original tropes.

Screamo, in particular, got very old very quickly, but that didn't stop every herbert around having a go. Fucking hell, I feel like I've spent most of my life waiting to soundcheck while watching some skinny-jeaned, penny black-wearing stick insect rolling around on the floor yelping while the drummer struggled to keep up a half-way decent stab at a blast beat. And they'd be called something overly pretentious and fey like 'Her Memories Are Like Butterflies'.

So I sold the fucking lot - all the handscreened manilla envelope-clad split 7"s on Inchworm and Gravity (for a fair old whack, too, as emo/skramz kidz might be the most credulous yet self-regarding nitwits I've ever dealt with). As a result, I have absolutely no idea who

Quote from: Dickie_Anders on August 06, 2022, 11:44:13 AMThe Brave Little Abacus, Snowing and Heccra.

are. I feel like a curse has been lifted.

I'll probably give them a listen though. If nothing else, I'm interested to see what 'real emo' sounds like these days after all that scream/sing 'you broke my heeeeaaaaart' metalcore horseshit tainted the genre's name for eternity

EDIT: Also, Assfactor 4 deserve a mention for being pretty unique in their ability to mesh Revolution Summer songwriting (and lyricism) with more 90s sylistic choices (screamy vox, some almost math-rock style contrapuntal guitar lines amongst the riffery). But they were called ASSFACTOR 4 and not 'Jennifer's Daydream', so they were mostly ignored. Criminal.