Me, Myself & Emo
Sometimes it's hard to describe feelings, or a moment(s) that happen in our life. Feelings of wanting more, or a moment of deep depression that you can't figure out. Like many, I turn to music to help me through times like these. Sometimes all it does is extenuate the problem and increase the feelings that were being felt, but often this can be the release of emotion that you were after. After dragging yourself to get some much-needed sleep, the next day is always there, and often that can be a reassuring state.
One of the genres that I'm turning to more often than not is emo. A very loose term for a genre that has many different connotations, and is constantly changing and reinventing itself. Since being coined in the mid-eighties to describe a flurry of hardcore bands, such as Rites of Spring, Beefeater, and Embrace, the genre has had a mixed and turbulent history. It inspired many regrettable fashion trends, but gave a space for people who felt alienated by society. Bands such as My Chemical Romance, Panic! At The Disco, and Paramore all came out of the emo scene, but that's not where my personal journey with the genre began.
Over the past number of years, emo has seen a somewhat revival, bands have embraced the roots of emo and the influences of punk rock and hardcore, both with the music and aesthetics. Because of these different influences, many emo bands don't even consider themselves 'an emo band', perhaps because of the strong connotations that are now attached to it as well. But the use of this term and the coupling of bands considered emo has allowed me to discover new music that has really struck a chord with me and many others. The brutally honest lyricism, the mix of crunching guitar riffs and sorrowful soundscapes, the beautiful aesthetics with album covers and photography, its a genre with many strings to its bow.
My journey with the genre began a few years ago, as I started to embrace and delve deeper into alternative rock music. This led me to discover many great bands, from Mastodon to Deftones, to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. And of course, bands under the emo umbrella. Here's a list of five bands that struck a chord with me the most:
First up is Modern Baseball from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the most recognisable modern emo bands. Touching on rejection, insecurities, and mental health, the band are not afraid of tackling personal issues in a very introspective way; issues that have recently caught up to them, having cancelled their US tour and announced an indefinite break, saying “the project we started as a source of joy and positive expression had become something that was slowly eating away at our mental health and our friendships,” Modern Baseball led the resurgence of the so-called emo revival, Brendan Lukens distinctive delivery and voice resonating with a huge number of people. I wish them a speedy recovery.
From Baltimore, Maryland, Have Mercy was one of the bands that I really got into, their second album A Place of Our Own especially hitting home and being my 'go to' album for a while. Formed in 2011, most of the lyricism is based around growing up and personal doubts, two items that I'm sure we all have a hard time tackling. Their new album Make The Best Of It is really good and they're currently on tour with Senses Fail.
One of the 'veterans' of the emo scene, American Football's self-titled album back in 1999 was the catalyst for the resurgence of emo. Mike Kinsella is in my opinion one of the best songwriters of our time: his in-depth lyricism is just one of a number of great things about this band. Formed in Illinois, the band have a whispery folk kind of feel, ditching the punk rock influences and focusing more on the lyrics and subtle melodies.
The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die:
Yes I know, it’s a beautiful name for a band. Soaring soundscapes, heartfelt lyrics and that name, TWIABP is perhaps the epitome of modern day emo. What is great about this band is their ability to build multi-layered songs that are so grandiose, but still make them attainable and human. The name is over the top and so is the band, and it's great. Screaming vocals, angelic voices, heavy guitar riffs, soft melodies, violins, TWIABP have got it all in abundance, and are by far one of the better bands that I've discovered. Their debut album Whatever, If Ever is a beautiful mess, and their second album Harmlessness is an emo masterpiece. Their latest album Always Foreign, which was released last September, isn’t half bad either. Honestly, one of my favourite bands at the moment.
And last, but not least it’s Everyone Everywhere. I've run out of superlatives to describe bands by this point, so all I'm going to say is this band are great, they make really good music, I like them. Their self-titled album released in 2012 is a brilliant, brilliant album, which you can listen to in full via YouTube.
Music is, and always will be, a great healer. A detachment from reality, an escape. Emo has the uncanny ability to describe unexplainable emotions and is a great outlet for letting those emotions out, which is most of the time a self-loathing, but ultimately therapeutic process. In a world of technology, up-to-the-minute news & social media, different and varying opinions shoved down your throat, advertisement, PC culture, and whatever other confusing shit that's going on, you can often feel lost and confused. There's a lot of noise, but not much clarity. And sometimes it's music that can help you find that.
Thank you for being there.