November 4, 2012

Midwest Emo Special

I know what you're thinking, but nope. This is not an article about shit bands like Fall Out Boy or From First to Last or whatever this dumb scene kids are listening to nowadays in order to feel different and special. For those guys - yes, you are special by the fact that you're dumber than 80% of the world's population.

We're a bunch of whiny dipshits. Razorblade please?

Although there are bands that tried to revive the midwestern genre (Joie de Vivre, for example), nowadays the "emo" term is used by prepubescent boys screaming and whining about love.
That being said, I'm going to talk about some bands that are playing technical, slow, melodic music with vocals bearing similarities to indie-rock. This genre became popular in the early 90's, and the group that brought the genre to success is...

Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary


These guys were absolutely essential in establishing this genre, and with their debut album Diary they recieved critical acclaim, being considered not only crucial for those into the emo scene but also one of the greatest rock albums of the 90's.

With an incredible opening track, this band sets the bar really high and just downright surprises you. The album is characterized by overdriven guitars, awesome riffs and ecstatic drumming. It's really easy to see why this band is so popular and considered a must-listen amongst fans of the genre. Just listen to this:

Next up we have what I think is my favourite band that falls into the category of midwest emo, and that is...

American Football - American Football


Let me tell you a little story. I found out about this band 3 years ago, thanks to /mu/. I was staying in Germany at the time. It was August - a dying month of sauntering winds, frequent rain, dark skies and just overall drowsiness and melancholy.

Although I had no reason in particular to be sad, after listening to this album it just hit me. Why am I not happy? What am I doing with my life? Hundreds of questions started revolving around in my head, and I honestly had no answers. Dysphoria bitchslapped me, and it hurt like hell.

I got over it eventually, and I'm okay with listening to this album now, but back then it really felt like an intense experience.
Sob stories aside, this is a fucking great album, technical and really heartfelt. Mike Kinsella (the singer) is a beast, and even though this is the band's only released material, Kinsella has a bunch of other projects - Owen, Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc. I suggest checking those out too.


Christie Front Drive - Anthology


Another band with a smashing debut album, what we have here is an incredible display of emotion and enormous talent and fervor. They cited Sunny Day Real Estate as one of their main influences, and that becomes obvious when listening to the album.

What bugs me off about album is the fact that I can't even make out the lyrics, so if by chance you'll end up enjoying this album, you'll just have to hum along. But don't worry, because this album rocks in every other aspect. Songs are well-paced, gradually developing more energy and adding more to the mix until bursting into a flurry of fervor and grief.

Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - What It Takes To Move Forward


This is one of the groups that revived the midwestern emo genre, bearing striking similarities to the aforementioned bands while managing to blend in their personality and add tinges of intimacy to their music. With 2009's release of What It Takes To Move Forward, Empire! Empire! managed to get the attention of this genre's aficionados.
What I really like about this band are the lyrics. Sometimes cryptical, sometimes blunt -but always beautiful-, they manage to create a beautiful image of what's going on in Keith Latinen's mind. Even the name, which might seem random at first, has an interesting explanation:

"As for the meaning behind the name, I’ve had a lifetime of bands not working out, and so I chose a name to reflect my frustration. I tend to hide lyrics and names behind a lot of dense symbolism, so here’s the general break-down of the name. “Empire! Empire!” is that one evasive dream that you want so badly, and you will always chase it, but it never seems quite in reach. The “(I Was a Lonely Estate)” portion was where I felt I was incomplete and insignificant. It’s hard to get off the ground if you can’t find reliable people to share your dream. The exclamation points mark how important the dream is, and the parenthesis signify that I feel like I am unimportant and unnoticed."

Moving on to the music itself, the guitars are reminding me of Sunny Day Real Estate, and the vocals are really pleasant too, Keith managing to deliver a soft yet powerful message.

Right, that's it for now. Oh, I also recommend checking out Algernon Cadwallader and Midwest Pen Pals.

No comments:

Post a Comment