I like a challenge. You noticed that, probably. I like music. You might have noticed that, too. I’m the sort of person who takes a music snob test and gets annoyed for only scoring 65%. The sort of person who will spend three hours making a new desktop background for their work computer made out of band logos that obscures all the icons on said computer, actively making life harder for myself. I will then keep that desktop for months, until it is ousted by my childish enthusiasm for Star Wars.
Having completed a two-year marathon undertaking (of my own idiotic creation) to listen to every album on the Rolling Stone Top 500 albums list, I luxuriated for a few weeks in the ability to choose music for myself. It was lovely. There was no pressure. I caught up on some stuff I was meaning to get round to, worked my way through some recommendations, and then, for seemingly no reason, I randomly made myself a list of 50 old school emo albums to listen to.
I am an idiot.
Having made the playlist, I thought to myself: ‘Hey, literally ‘some’ people enjoyed me waffling on about the Rolling Stone Challenge. Maybe, they’re all itching to read a 36 year old white guy’s opinions on fifty emo albums that are all over a decade old.’
Aren’t you lucky?
‘But Paul’, I hear none of you asking, ‘why emo?’ Well, I stumbled over what was already the thriving scene of emo, or emotional hardcore, as it filtered across the continent. Here was a brand of rock music that took grunge’s angst, hardcore’s honesty, and wrapped it all up in chords made out of pure sadness. It was perfect for someone who likes their music melancholy and overwrought.
I was just starting to get into the likes of Texas is the Reason, and was buying Deep Elm samplers off the internet like a good scene kid, when overnight the scene seemed to completely change. In came a raft of pop bands in emo clothes, bands like Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and My Chemical Romance. People started wearing funny clothes and suddenly the scene seemed to be all about fringes and day-glo clothing material.
Being a metalhead in my early twenties, I feared change, young people, and anything that was remotely popular. So I ran to the hills, secretly glad I had another genre I could talk about ‘being into before it was cool.’ That’s like levelling up to a music snob.
Time passed, in that way that it does. I secretly enjoyed some of the poppier emo stuff, but of course I didn’t tell anyone, unless I was really drunk in a club and ‘Welcome to The Black Parade’ came on. The fringes turned into hipster beards and day-glo was replaced by hessian. Guitars were swapped for banjos.
One day, having finished the aforementioned challenge, I randomly stumbled across an old Hundred Reasons album on shuffle and got to thinking. There must have been so many great bands from that scene that just passed me by.
I went onto the internet, and found a clickbaity article called something along the lines of ‘OMG! 35 Emo bands you’ll totes remember if you are a 90’s kid. You won’t believe what happens next. Number 27 will make you vomit your own kidneys all over the carpet with joy.’
It seemed to have a lot of names on it that I remember hearing the ‘proper’ emo kids talking about, back in the day, and for each one recommended their best album. I started making a list. I checked it twice, then added some bands I thought should be on there. I sent it to a man with a beard and tunnels in his ears, just to be sure, because HE KNOWS THESE THINGS.
Soon enough, I had 50 albums. Bang on. Not in any particular order, and I’m sure someone will start screaming at me about the things that should be on there, and the things that shouldn’t. Feel free. But this looks like a pretty good introduction to old school emo. It is, if you like, my Emo School. Because Emo’s Cool. (Get it?)
Here’s the list. Over the next couple of weeks you can follow along, and see if I overdose on teenage angst.
I’m off to Emo School!
Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary
The Promise Ring – Nothing Feels Good
The Get Up Kids – Something to Write Home About
Braid – Frame and Canvas
Texas is the Reason – Do You Know Who You Are?
Boy’s Life – Boy’s Life
American Football – American Football
Cap’n Jazz – Analphabetapolothology
Mineral – Endserenading
Jawbreaker – 24 Hour Revenge Therapy
At The Drive In – Relationship of Command
Owls – Owls
The Appleseed Cast – Two Conversations
Far – Tin Cans With Strings to You
Desaparecidos – Read Music/Speak Spanish
Saves The Day – Stay What You Are
The Anniversary – Designing A Nervous Breakdown
Reggie And The Full Effect – Songs Not To Get Married To
Jets To Brazil – Orange Rhyming Dictionary
Christie Front Drive – Stereo
Coheed and Cambria – The Second Stage Turbine Blade
Death Cab For Cutie – We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes
Rainer Maria – Past Worn Searching
The Rocking Horse Winner – State of Feeling Concentration
Weezer – Pinkerton
Quicksand – Manic Compression
Handsome – Handsome
Cursive – Cursive’s Domestica
Rites of Spring – Rites of Spring
The Juliana Theory – Emotion Is Dead
Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I
Maritime – We, The Vehicles
Hot Rod Circuit – Sorry About Tomorrow
Hey Mercedes – Everynight Fire Works
Dashboard Confessional – The Swiss Army Romance
Thursday – Full Collapse
Taking Back Sunday – Where You Want to Be
Crash Of Rhinos – Knots
Brand New – The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
Jimmy Eat World – Clarity
Jawbox – For Your Own Special Sweetheart
Drive Like Jehu – Yank Crime
Rival Schools – United By Fate
Sense Field - Buiding
Brandtson – Fallen Star Collection
Camber – Anyway, I’ve Been There
Starmarket – Four hours light
Planes Mistaken For Stars – Fuck With Fire
Alkaline Trio – The Alkaline Trio
Embrace - Embrace