June 1, 2010

In Case You Didn't Get the M(Emo)...

Whoever declared emo dead obviously didn't have the foresight that its most truest and loyal fans would one day return to take back what the mainstream destroyed, stereotyped and mocked. Those fans include anyone who knows it all started back in Washington D.C. during the mid-80's with bands like Rites of Spring and Embrace, transitioned into a subculture of indie rock with Fugazi and Sunny Day Real Estate during the 90's and ultimately ended on the brink of pop perfection with The Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World in the early 2000s.

In the mid-2000s, emo became a novelty t-shirt sold at Hot Topic and MTV TRL punchline as bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance (who sounded nothing like the bands the press was likening them to) became cross bearers for a movement marketed towards disgruntled teenagers stuck in suburbia. It was at this same time when emo's genuine and original fans retreated and discovered new sounds to fill the musical void. However, almost 10 years after emo "broke," a new breed of bands is surfacing in the Midwest and they have a message for anyone who loved the genre's glory days: It's time to take back what's rightfully ours. In case you didn't get the memo, AwkwardSound is introducing you to five bands who are bringing emo back to its roots and will make it your little secret all over again.


This Chi-town five piece pays its debt to the angular sounds of Cap'n Jazz, their associate band Ghosts and Vodka and the rougher texture of Texas Is the Reason. Expect to hear plenty of drawn out math-rock melodies and coarse vocals to contrast them along the way. While Castevet's debut Summer Fences was released merely a year ago to much acclaim, it hasn't stopped the band from continuing to work hard in 2010. Truly turning back the hands of time on the way you used to listen to music (as you'll see the further you read,) you can currently find their latest release The Echo and the Light available on cassette through Ice Age.

Castevet - "Midwest Values"

Empire! Empire! I Was a Lonely Estate

The bulk of this Fenton, Michigan bands' output is beautifully melodic, glistening with delicate guitars and soaring vocally in the same way that made Sunny Day Real Estate, American Football and early Jimmy Eat World's brands of emo the genre's great hopes in the late '90s. Originally a solo project of vocalist Keith Latinen in 2006, Empire! Empire! I Was a Lonely Estate eventually became a quartet and released their debut LP What It Takes to Move Forward in 2009 to a warm reception. You can find it on vinyl and CD formats through Count Your Lucky Stars Records and on cassette through Keep It Together Records.

Empire! Empire! I Was a Lonely Estate - "Keep What You Have Built Up..."

Grown Ups

Unlike their counterparts, Grown Ups are taking a different approach to redefining emo throughout the Midwest scene. The foursome originates from Michigan City, Illinois and has a penchant for crunchier, punkier tunes à la Jawbreaker and Texas Is the Reason despite still maintaining hints of '90s emo-math rock. They recently released their debut full length, New Songs, through Big Scary Monsters Recording Company. You can check out the album in its entirety currently streaming on their profile at PunkNews.org.

Grown Ups - "Three Day Weekend"

Into It. Over It.

Consider Into It. Over It. the Pedro the Lion of the new class of emo as this "band" is actually the one man show of Chicago's Evan Weiss (ex-The Progress, Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start.) In 2008, Weiss ambitiously set out to write 52 songs for an album (aptly titled, 52 Songs, and released as a double LP last year on No Sleep Records) by recording a new track each week over the course of one year. Throughout it, you'll hear Weiss switching up his emo fashions along the way, varying between early Death Cab for Cutie, the already-stated Pedro the Lion to the post-hardcore influence of Braid. Chris Carrabba he is not, and that's a most excellent thing.

Into It. Over It. - "30 Ft. Spirit"

Joie De Vivre

Joie De Vivre delivers the type of emo that keeps you warm when the temperatures start to drop come autumn and you reach for that cardigan sweater before you step out the door. Influences pull heavily from the mid-'90s slow paced, minimalism made popular by Mineral, American Football and The Promise Ring. More than just a guitar-and-drums two trick pony, don't be surprised if you hear the occasional horn or string section pop up in one of Joie De Vivre's songs. Their debut full length The North End was just released on cassette via Keep It Together Records and on vinyl through Count Your Lucky Stars Records.

Joie de Vivre - "Next Year Will Be Better"

1 comment:

  1. Ominous <3 you called it. I recognize you even if Stereogum doesn't. :)