Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Emo came rather late to me, around July of 2001.
By then, most of the bastions of the old guard ha lost much of their luster or were already sent to the industry scrap heap. Mineral's supposed deal with Interscope had fallen through, The Get Up Kids had traded in the art of synchronised jumping in favour of acoustic guitars, and MTV was starting to take notice.
But there was something about those pre-millennium emo albums that was just a notch above the chasing pack. Maybe it's cause they do sound like they are often in serious hurt. In fact, Mineral's Chris Simpson often sings like he has 40 Katana blades stabbed into his stomach with his ex-lover slapping him continuously just after he was knocked down by a Deathstar.
Yes, it's an icky term for a genre. One laced with far too much puffy clouds and pink love letters for rock music's comfort. But hey, like B-grade movies, sometimes some things can be so bad, they become good. Like my soccer-playing activities. On Football Manager, that is.
Here are my favorite tracks from my six most essential emo rock albums released before 1999. Enjoy, cry or go take a dump.
Sunny Day Real Estate - In Circles (from Diary)
The song that sold the genre to me. The blueprint for sobbing emo can be traced back to the vocal chords of one Jeremy Enigk. On this, backed by Foo Fighters' defensive line, driving lo-fi guitars and syncopated hardcore attacks, we see what the fuss was all about to begin with.
Mineral - Take the Picture Now (from The Power of Failing)
Just suffer Chris Simpson's inability to hold a tune to the last 40 seconds of the song. Should redefine emo for you.
Texas is the Reason - Johnny on the Spot (from Do You Know Who You Are?)
What happens when a bunch of religious hardcore nuts starts singing about girls instead? Angular riffs and precise drum assaults, loaded with more than a couple of scoops of emotional dexterity. Lovely.
Mineral - Gjs (from EndSerenading)
Chris Simpson's at it again, this time using pseudo-Christian imagery to put his point across about just how much suffering he is experiencing. Unlike many of the rest, you believe him.
The Get Up Kids - Holiday (from Something to Write Home About)
One Tree Hill may have perverted this record a few rungs lower on the shelf but that doesn't remove the fact that this concept album about long distance relationships is about the only time that emo rock's marriage with pop punk worked. This furious opening track, filled with challenging time signatures and sliding octave chords, should get you up and jumping.
Jimmy Eat World - Table for Glasses (from Clarity)
Yes, they're MTV happy these days but there was a time when Jimmy Eat World sang songs for the lonely kids crying in their rooms. The gorgeous harmonies at the interlude should send you to a better place than where you are at the moment.