Tag Archives: Revolution Summer

Make It Stop…

Tsk Tsk LA Times. I’d already done away with (500) Days of Summer a handful of weeks ago, and this is merely another exaggerated interpretation of “emo culture.” So on the one hand, I’d like to dissect it. But, I think the words clearly speak for themselves:

“500 Days” is, as far as genres go, a hybrid picture, something of an emo version of a romantic comedy: It disdains machismo, futurism, violence and volume in favor of subtlety and heartfelt, if often mumbled, emotion.

The one time Tom really runs afoul of Summer’s feelings is when he throws a punch at a guy who’s been hassling her at a bar (downtown’s highly photogenic Broadway Bar, by the way). Tom is one of a number of emo leading men to emerge from Hollywood this year, joining sensitive types in “Adventureland” and “Away We Go,” among other pictures. As Gawker noted this week, the cineplex has been full of “gentle, sensitive, geeky male outsiders with a love of Lou Reed and snug hoodies.”

With its very particular aesthetic point of view and calibrated tone, “(500) Days” shares much cultural ground not just with indie bands but with emo culture broadly defined — with journals like McSweeney’s (whose founder, Dave Eggers, cowrote “Away We Go”), radio programs like “This American Life” (whose host, Ira Glass, is Tom with chunky black glasses and a decade or two older) and so on.

Well, I wouldn’t expect an architecture critic to have a complete understanding of a cultural enigma like emo, and Christopher Hawthorne certainly proves that idea. He is, in effect, confusing sometimes fluid state of emo fans and indie culture, though all his descriptions match that of indie culture. Most “emos” – be they the Revolution Summer folks in the 80s, Fugazi’s punk-for-one-and-one-for-punk calls to arms of the late 80s through the aughts, hell even My Chemical Romance – don’t match Hawthorne’s description. Even the stereotypes of “emos” today – depressed punk youths with a fetish for self-violence – doesn’t match that description. Hawthorne’s words are of indie through and through, from a love of McSweeny’s right down to the Morrissey fandom from this quick spec on the movie.

Among the many camps, Morrissey tends to be tossed into the indie one, and Regina Spektor without question as well. Emo is always, always land of the punk, even if it is an extremely watered down version of that.

To break it down a little further and call it a night, sensitive does not always equal emo culture. Everyone has feelings, every music has some sort of emotional depth behind it (even if it is a shallow pit, there are some feelings elicited towards how hollow a music can be). THAT is one of many reasons numerous emo musicians diss the term and a reason that so many confuse the two.

Night all.

Gig Fail

Deacon in the glow of his green skull

Deacon in the glow of his green skull

My review of the Super Secret Summer Surprise – featuring Dan Deacon, Ultimate Reality, and Videohippos – is on Bostonist right now. And it ain’t pretty. That had nothing to do with the musicians involved – just the bumbling mess that was the ICA’s master plan for the evening.

You can read more about the details at Bostonist, but I left out one thing in my review: for much of the performance, it felt like looking at art in a gallery. Granted, the ICA is a museum of contemporary art, but that doesn’t mean that people should interact with performers as if they are just to be stared at and not paid much attention to. It was only until Deacon asked people to move towards the drum kits for the Ultimate Reality set that people seemed to interact with what was going on, but not that much. What’s so great about the Wham City collective (much like the DC emocore scene from Revolution Summer on) is their inherent ability to challenge concert goers with interacting with their surroundings at a show in an entirely different light. Unfortunately, the ICA crowd wasn’t up for that. Even though they moved around during Deacon’s set, I got the sense many did that because they perceived that’s how one acts at a Dan Deacon show and not because the moment grabbed them and allowed them to let loose. How do I know this? Well, probably the fact that people were ready to dance when Deacon was testing some faulty DI boxes, and while they emitted an uncontrollable buzz to the effect of something he didn’t want to send through the PA, much of the crowd took it to mean “this is Dan Deacon music, I must dance like crazy!” Obviously, it’s great when people dance and let loose, but they seemed to entirely betray the points that Deaon wants to make with his music….

And now I’ve gone on a tangent. Read the piece if you’re still interested! And if you disagree, comment on it as well!

Wham

 

Dan Deacons plank o wires

Dan Deacon's plank o' wires

Be on the lookout for a review of the Dan Deacon + Ensemble show at the Middle East Downstairs on Bostonist in the next day or two. As a side note/review preview, it was interesting to note a certain conflict between the ritualization of a performance and Deacon himself, and the thankfully positive resolution of said conflict… in many ways, it’s a modern take on the Revolution Summer days of emocore yore…

But I digress… check out Bostonist soon!

Still Jamming Econo…

 

Mike Watts feet, on the move

Mike Watt's feet, on the move

Caught Mike Watt and the Missing Men at TTs this/last evening… quite a set and great to see a genuine punk rock legend (not to lead into paradoxical statements, just take it as you will). Considering the impact the Minutemen have had (including on emo, as the Minutemen’s DIY ideology was a shared practice in the Revolution Summer circle and even before in the harDCore scene), it’s great to see Watt remains such a genuine guy after what many would describe as a whirlwind life and musical career. He was quite an inspiration back in the day and onstage, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to see him in action…

Be on the lookout for a gig review on Bostonist in the next day or two.

All The Random Stuff That’s Fit

Let’s break this down in bullet points:

*TV on the Radio‘s Dear Science, has officially been released online, one week early. Who knows why Interscope made the decision, and really, who cares? You can purchase the album on iTunes or stream it for free at Lala (you must sign up first). Upon first listen it is… amazing. There really is no reason to doubt the band, and it sounds that with each growing album they continue to challenge one another as a unit to create a bombshell of a discography. ‘Nuff said.

TV on the Radio

TV on the Radio

*Mean Magazine has one of the oddest things I could have imagined: a video of Ben Kingsley as Ian MacKaye “performing” the song “Minor Threat”. As if my respect for Kingsley as an actor couldn’t grow any more, and then this popped online. My only wish is that there was less of a photo-collage feel and maybe a little narrative. No bother. To think that just a couple of months ago Kingsley was stealing scenes in local movie theaters as a drugged-up shrink in The Wackness; just to see him in the same pose as MacKaye in his Minor Threat days send chills up my spine. It’ll be an odd day when that actually turns into a film, but one I’d love to see. A significantly older man (Kingsley) playing a verbosely young musician (then-teenaged MacKaye) in the pinnacle of hardcore punk bands… now there’s something that would put I’m Not There to shame. Now I can’t seem to get the thought of Adrien Brody as Guy Picciotto for some sort of Revolution Summer project alongside Kingsley…

*Now for a little personal plug: I’ve organized a show at P.A.’s Lounge in Somerville this coming Sunday (September 21) featuring none other than Juiceboxxx, who I wrote about in an earlier post. It’ll also feature sets from Wham City/Baltimore scene stalwarts Narwhalz and DJ Dog Dick (the later who will be performing alongside Dan Deacon on his Baltimore Round Robin Tour), and an opening slot from Boston’s very own Ppalmm. All of these artists have their own unique take on electronic-based music, and it should be one amazing show. At $6 a pop ($9 for those 18-20), you really can’t go wrong.

Juiceboxxx – Thunder Jam III (video):

Narwhalz – Phar-Oooh (live):

Save the rest for Sunday…

A Spring in Your Step!

Last night I caught a great performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring for the Landmarks Festival at the Hatch Shell. Although the show was an abbreviated, symphony-only version of Stravinsky’s opera, it was still a wonderful opportunity to hear the music played by a full symphony (and one filled with the best high school-aged talent from around the world at that).

Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky

With it’s jarring, discordant bursts of noise juxtaposed against graceful melodies, it’s a little easy to see how The Rite of Spring caused a riot when it was premiered in Paris in 1913. The structures certainly are abrasive and revolutionary for the world of classical music. But what was probably more outrageous than the music itself was the storyline of the opera, which concerned pagan Russia and ended with the sacrifice of a young girl. Staged at a time when Europe was on the brink of World War I and tensions were high across the continent, The Rite of Spring must have been thought of as blasphemous in Paris, where art is still a part of the bloodline.

A little over seven decades later, a revolutionary musical entity was set upon the bloodline of the DC punk community. Named after Stravinsky’s piece, Rites of Spring fully intended to re-energize the punk scene in the nation’s capital as harDCore was heading into a tailspin. Although the band started up in 1984, their narrative is synonymous with the summer of 1985, known as Revolution Summer; Rites were a fixture in the re-energized DC punk scene, fueling a brand new energy through their cathartic live sets, perplexing and introverted lyrics, and power-pop-meets-hardcore instrumentation. And in a scene that was dubbed with the term “emocore,” Rites of Spring are known as the first emo band.

Rites of Spring

Rites of Spring

Twenty four years on and the affects of Rites of Spring’s revolutionary evolution from hardcore continues to be felt across the world. They may have only played slightly over a dozen shows, released only one full album, existed for only a couple of years, and their name may only cause tremors in the hearts of those they personally touched and the average music nerd, but their ideas have clearly transcended time and place. Although their name may not cause a panic among a gaggle of fourteen year old girls the way that Fall Out Boy does, Rites of Spring are the provincial Velvet Underground of emo; they may not have sold millions of records, but everyone who picked up a Rites of Spring album or saw them live were certainly inspired to pick up an instrument. Now that’s revolutionary.

Rites of Spring – Hain’s Point (live):

Check Out These (Water) Guns

Boston’s Banditos Misteriosos announced a brand new event: a Revolutionary Water Gun Battle. The battle will take place on August 16th, but you should be able to sign up later today. Banditos have caused quite a ruckus (in the purely good sense) in just under a year since forming. They’ve gotten a good chunk of coverage from the press and were recently named “Boston’s Best Kept Secret” by the Improper Bostonian. Their staging of fun-filled, unusual, and engaging events such as pillow fights, silent dance parties, and (most recently) a scavenger hunt in the form of flash mobs is just what this city has been asking for. These events are the kind of thing that are needed to shake people out of their collective daily-routine-comas and engage them in community and openness while challenging their expectations with a surge of creativity and fun.

Banditos pillow fight

Banditos' pillow fight

In many ways, the random acts of fun inspired by Banditos are a reminder of the Punk Percussion Protests that were held in front of the South African Embassy in the summer of 1985. Back in emo’s infant days, Revolution Summer as it were, members of Positive Force and various individuals in the Dischord roster and faimly would gather infrequently by the embroiled embassy to stage impromptu protests. Demonstrating their newfound thirst for politics beyond their small community, the punks would gather a handful of times that summer and bang on all kinds of objects that would make a sound, end on end, in a vibrant and out-of-the-ordinary display of political fortitude and engaging idealism. At a time when hardcore had soured the image of punk for individuals within and out of the underground, the Punk Percussion Protests were one of many ways in which DC’s emo scene challenged expectations for all-things-normal in the world of punk (and outside of punk at that).

Positive Force/Fugazi flyer

Positive Force/Fugazi flyer

Keeping up with the sense of challenging expectations, the Punk Percussion Protests against Apartheid ended that summer. However, they were brought back briefly at various intervals, which also included a Positive Force, Fugazi-encompassing protest against the first War against Iraq. The event, originally a protests in support of the homeless, grew with the timetable set by the Bush administration (again, the first one) for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait. Aside from the large-Fugazi show, there was a mass drumming assembly in front of the White House. According to the book Dance of Days, the protests were so potent that “Bush complained to the press that ‘those damned drums are keeping me up all night.'” Talk about out of the ordinary.

Fugazi – Turnover (live at the Positive Force anti-war/homelessness protest):

Bastards of Pop

By now most music-loving folk are aware of the pay-what-you-want, online release of Girl Talk’s latest album, Feed The Animals. But this isn’t about that… well, it’s almost not about that. As any other savy internet users are concerned, a trio of folks hailing from the greater Baltimore/DC area new about this all to well. Funny thing is, the title of Girl Talk’s new album is startlingly similar to a certain activity that these three individuals do to fulfill their creative impulses. And darn it if the members of Food For Animals didn’t do something about it. The savvy members of one of the top experimental hip-hop troupes in the country put their imagination to the test and came out with a remix of Feed The Animals that is as hilarious as it is genuinely well-crafted. The inversion of the Girl Talk record cover didn’t hurt either.

Girl Talk\'s Feed The Animals

Food For Animals\' remix

Sure, this may sound like another attempt by an under-appreciated musical act trying to grab some limelight off of the backs of pop sensations. Actually, pop sensations may be the key word to why this isn’t a case of bandwagon-ing popularity. That same realm where Girl Talk has become such a heroic image is one where Food For Animals have gotten their fare and deserved share of praise and following as well; from Spin to Pitchfork, numerous well-regarded places of music criticism have praised FFA for their latest album – Belly.

No, this is not a case of scraping for some 15 minutes of fame. This isn’t even about fame. This is a great case of that simple keyword… community. The FFA remix is more a work of humorous camaraderie than anything negative or self-serving. For Gregg Gillis and FFA, it is another mark of a shared aesthetic dedicated to the opposite of pop-sanctuary; underground artistry. Their physical hometowns may be separate (Pittsburgh for GT, and Baltimore/DC for FFA), but their ideal one is a special place known as Wham City.

Brooklyn\'s Matt & Kim at Whartscape 2007

Wham City is a collective of artists and musicians who’ve made a hometown in Baltimore. More than that, they’ve made a scene-worthy presence out of Baltimore. Although Wham City is a close-knit crew (headed by electronics wunderkid Dan Deacon) and is not the entire community of Baltimore’s diverse art-punk scene, they have nevertheless become the center and face of the creativity bubbling out of the once-forgotten town. While institutions as high on the music-critiquing food chain as Rolling Stone have come a-calling, it has yet to diminish the creative culmination of the relatively anti-establishment scene. If anything, it’s simply drawn other like-minded individuals to the area and those who have made themselves an important part of building an artistically-challenging community. The connections within the scene are more personal than musically-similar. This year’s Whartscape Festival features, along side Gregg Gillis (playing with his side project Trey Told ‘Em) and Food For Animals, a number of musicians from across the country who are more dedicated to pushing the bounds of music than they are to carving a universal pop niche. There’s The Mae Shi (from LA), Black Dice (NYC), Parts & Labor (Brooklyn), and a ton of local Baltimore acts. What they lack in definite sound they make up for in their shared passion for underground music, ingenuity, and community.

Emo was birthed out of a very similar thesis of community as seen through performance. Music was the cache, but it wasn’t the only distinct quality of those communities. The places friends within the scene would interact and think of as home bases, the venues that bands practiced and played, the ideas that individuals shared and used to challenge one another – not just musically, but in life – were as integral to the scene as the tag placed on the original scene’s existence.

The Revolution Summer scene, the first community to be burdened with the label “emo” was a particular exemplary of the feat of flexibility. Some ideological and musical characteristics were shared, but the common bond over strengthening the community beyond the rigidity that defeated DC’s hardcore scene was stronger than any detrimentally-inclined tag. The acts that followed in the footsteps of the broken-up Revolution Summer acts continued to build on the ideas of community, welcoming other individual-thinkers into their world, and emiting a new crop of bands that did little to conform to any standards. Groups like Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses, Shudder To Think, Jawbox, and a host of others opened up the interpretations of the local “emo” sound to distinctly new possibilities. And others flocked to their community. Bikini Kill, though not emo, left the West Coast for DC, while Dischord welcomed Baltimore’s Lungfish in with open arms (quite a feat considering that Dischord was meant to be a forum for only DC acts).

With the breakthrough of alternative music into the mainstream, the emo acts of DC formed connections with others across America through correspondence, touring, and even producing; Jawbox’s J Robbins was a primary producer of many well-known 2nd wave emo acts. As the ideological, aesthetic, and musical aspects of emo spread around the country, tight bonds were formed by dis-separate acts throughout the Mid West. Those who form the core of 2nd wave emo acts  – The Promise Ring, Jimmy Eat World, Mineral, Christie Front Drive, etc – were all connected through friendship rather than sharing three chords.

Even today, when emo has lost a lot of its elasticity of definition due to stereotypes, community is as an important aspect as ever. Acts bond through touring (such as playing together on Warped Tour), shared record labels (Vagrant, Fueled By Ramen), a communal upbringing (such as Thursday and numerous other acts who honed their sound in New Jersey basements), and friendship (be it Thursday and My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco). Community is the strongest bond of the most-creative (and often times, successful) emo acts. Those bands looking to take advantage of a currently-popular, commercially-consumed genre tend to bring out the worst in emo. But it’s community that has allowed emo to continue to thrive and survive to this day, and it’s community that will continue to drive some of the most ingenious and forward-thinking musical movements.

Food For Animals – Girl Talk

Baltimore’s Double Dagger at Whartscape 2007:

Don’t Shudder

Great news today from reunion land, where Shudder To Think will join a growing list of acts banding together to make a little tour. It’s not much, but I’ll certainly take it. It also doesn’t hurt that Boston is one of the few locations in America that the band is scheduled to hit; they’ll be playing at Paradise Rock Club on October 11th.

Shudder To Think\'s Dischord Days

Shudder To Think provided one of the most interesting sounds on the Dischord roster when they joined in the late 80s. Sure, Fugazi was turning all notions of post-hardcore and emo on their heads, but Shudder To Think was an entirely different beast. They were a band that pulled more and more towards the aesthetic elements of psychedelia over time, though their ethos was still intensely grounded in the DIY punk realm. Their earliest work veered through the quick one-two punch of hardcore drumming before opening up to gaping waves of 60s-flavored guitar-work (see “Chocolate” off of Funeral At The Movies).

The band did refine their sound, as seen on 1992’s Get Your Goat. Shudder to Think did more than simply re-tread the old aesthetic waters of Revolution Summer emo acts. They took the combination of hardcore and pop on a roller coaster to the clouds; it didn’t hurt that frontman Craig Wedren’s eerie falsetto became as controlled, textured, and wholly unpredictable as the band’s sound. Their work mirrored and even impacted their future touring partners, Sunny Day Real Estate (at least according to the Alternative Press article on the 23 bands, where Shudder To Think is name-checked as being one of the DC bands perpetrating the particular style of emo). It’s hard not to see the connections between the two bands. Both made use of intelligently-crafted punk rock, both sought solace in the musical realm of the 60s and 70s, both featured vocalists with unusual singing styles in the realm of punk, and both brought a distinct change in style to the labels they became a part of (although, Sunny Day’s work at Sub Pop was more a rejection of by then typical grunge than it was an evolution of the label’s aesthetic… then again, Dischord had a fluid aesthetic that lends emo a certain sense of flexibility that exists to this day). Shudder To Think’s status as not only a creative, genre-bending band, but a cross-national influence works to establish their importance in the narrative of emo; their eventual connection with Sunny Day is one of many moves that helps to solidify a cross-substantial aesthetic idea of emo, as well as a burgeoning community surrounding emo (touring would become an important part of the Mid Western emo community as many bands that toured with one another shared ideas and friendship through their troubadour spirits).

Shudder To Think would continue to spread the idea of an evolutionary emo sound when they signed to Epic to release the Pony Express Record; they were only one of two Dischord bands to sign to a major label frenzy in the great alternative buyouts in the post-Nevermind music world. But the world wasn’t ready for the Pony Express Record (nor was it ready for most of the bands that were signed in the major label buyouts). Hell, emo wasn’t really ready either. Shudder To Think always had an odd style, but it got even weirder with their major label debut. In an aesthetic style that prided itself on lyrics that were both ambiguous but contained a sense of personal investment to the band and listener, Shudder provided a great thesis in that flexibility and a great revolution against the concept. Pony Express is lyrically obtuse, it’s music strung all over the place. And it’s still positively great, though a little rough to get into at parts. If emo means emotional music over punk rock, nothing fits that idea better than the wailing anthem that Wedren lets out against a sea of guitars on the two-plus minute long chorus closing out “X-French Tee Shirt”.

The rest of the Shudder To Think tale is all over the map. Wedren battled Hodgkin’s Disease while recording their second major label album. And a couple of projects were made under the Shudder To Think name: a soundtrack for the movies First Love, Last Rights (featuring guest vocals from folks such as Jeff Buckley), High Art, and a selection of songs for the glitter-rock inspired film Velvet Goldmine.

Shudder To Think broke up shortly thereafter in 1998. Wedren has been the most visible and successful of the band members since the breakup with a solo career. However, Wedren’s solo work is probably best recognized in the guise of three other guys: Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and David Wain. Wedren has been the trio’s go-to guy for movies like Wet Hot American Summer (he wrote the song “Wet Hot American Summer” and co-wrote the hilarious track “Higher and Higher”), The Baxter, and The Ten (in which he also played an extra in the chorus of nude dudes).

Craig Wedren

What will happen with the new Shudder To Think reunion? A new album? Five new albums? Or just a simple tour. Whatever happens, something good is sure to come.

Shudder To Think – X-French Tee Shirt (video)

Different Perspectives on the 4th

The Washington Post featured an odd article on the header of its website yesterday. Kevin Connolly is 22, won a silver medal at the X Games, and is a photographer who’s work is currently on display at the Kennedy Center in DC. Here’s a picture of Connolly:

Kevin Connolly

Connolly was born without legs. His work is on display under the name “The Rolling Exhibition,” and it features photos he took while traversing the globe on a skateboard. The photos are all taken at ground level and offer a completely different perspective on the realm of every day life.

The best photographers are made by their instinctive eye for what people consider aesthetically pleasing. You can lead hundreds to a beautiful landscape, but it’s the individuals who can get a sense of how to capture and retain that beauty on film (or on pixels) that are the true artists in photography. Photography is all about perspective; it’s being able to create something tangible in a fraction of a second that only you can see and being skilled enough to convince others of the beauty or importance of that perspective – that shot – simply by putting it on display. Connolly’s work is a basic expression of that intrinsic element of art in photography. Almost everyone who will view Connolly’s photos have absolutely no idea what it’s like to live without legs. And yet, with a quick, in-motion photo of passing strangers, Connolly manages to sum up book-loads of personal experience in an aesthetic light that can make anyone with a degree of imagination find resonance and the human experience in his art.

Perspective is a driving force behind emo. True, all art expresses some general form of perspective, but emo is the form of music where many artists seek to make individual perspectives a tangible reality for people who haven’t had the experiences that formulated the driving force of the music and culture. It’s not an empathetic form of art, but it’s not far off. The reason emo was such a force within the underground for over two decades was the fact that the music sought to connect individuals of different backgrounds through positive, personal music that created an omniscient perspective. It created communities, which are the foundations of the underground in America. And underground communities in America are the breeding grounds for underground cultures.

And with such a vast opportunity of perspectives that can be tossed in the heap, and with the vast amount of different perspectives across the United States, emo became a mutated force of underground culture in different parts of this vast union. It will always be tied to post-hardcore, it will always be tied to its DC roots, and it will always be tied to a sense of yearning towards a goal. And that sense of yearning is mostly where the lineages of emo differentiate. With the Revolution Summer of 1985 (otherwise known as the birth of emo) the various acts that constituted for emo wrote about a multitude of ideas in blanketed terms in order to reach out to all sorts of individuals; from the staunch politics of Beefeater, to the introverted anguish of Embrace, to the general struggle with the individual of Rites of Spring, emo at its beginnings covered the ideological bases. Let’s not forget Fugazi, who took the aesthetic elements of the Revolution Summer acts and blasted them off in profound new directions; their work made the most plight-filled perspectives seem like a reality by addressing taboo subjects with an empathetic sense of humanity. Everything from AIDS (“Give Me The Cure”) to gentrification (“Cashout”) to gun violence (“Repeater”) was addressed with a profound and omniscient voice that opened listeners to near-alien perspectives and experiences and made them as important issues as ones personally affecting the individual.

So how did emo go from there to here? How did politics diverge into puppy-love? Well, it’s not that simple; to say that politics doesn’t exist in emo anymore is a bold-faced lie. Hell, Fugazi kept churning out records well into the new millennium, and you can’t forget Billboard chart-toppers Thursday when discussing politics and emo in the same breath. And aspects of love and romance were well a part of emo from the beginning; Rites of Spring’s music, though perpetually vague in context and up to the listener to discern the meaning for themselves, did sometimes concern aspects of romantic love.

But, as far as the songs about love, or lost love, or as some would go as far to say (and in some cases, correctly) near-hatred towards the opposite sex, the answer is simple: it’s all about perspective. Love is a concept that every human being on the planet can relate to. Outside of the survival needs for shelter and sustenance, love is a concept that is basically universal. Everyone has experienced it in some capacity, be it romantically or otherwise. And it’s fair to say everyone has experienced their fare share of rejection. And it’s all about how we deal with it. The most perplexing thing about the projection of emo in recent years isn’t the obsession with love. It’s the obsession with negativity broiled in rejection. From its beginning, emo was created with the idea to make something constructive, build something new and positive after the wreckage of the hardcore community that those who became involved in the “emo” scene had experienced (their rejection, in some capacity, involved in punk).

Yet, today, so many emo acts revel in dread. Again, not a new concept or perspective; if there’s anything as old as love, it’s depression (or a mild form of it). But why the fascination with such negativity? It’s impossible to pinpoint one thing, but it is representative of something fairly circular within pop music; every so often, the mood of pop music flows from positivity to negativity. With so many sub-genres and categories of pop pushed onto consumers at any one point, its interesting to see different musics produce different emotional output at the same time. You can’t forget the brooding darkness of the 80s when post-punk and goth were all the rage and hardcore bristled with anger in the underground; then again, happy-sounding music dominated the pop-charts, with everything from Madonna to Bobby Mcferrin (“Don’t Worry Be Happy”) supported Regan’s 50s style American dream image.

Whatever the case may be, be it the fact that loss of romantic love is the only ailment and perspective that can incite anything aside from apathy in well-to-do teenagers anymore, or the fact that modern music is a circular and uncontrollable beast, it is interesting to note the vast expanse of, well, emotions that fill the map of pop music today.

And so, on our nation’s birthday, I ask to keep perspective in mind. It’s our individual perspectives that make us unique, that attract us to other like-minded souls, and that separate us along various ideological lines. But we’re all human, no matter what perspective we may have. Happy Birthday America!

Here’s a present, courtesy of one of the many emo acts to come out of the Kinsella collective:

American Football – Honestly?