Tag Archives: Spin magazine

Nothing Sounds Good If You’re Andy Greenwald

This is why I cannot respect Andy Greenwald’s opinion on emo:


Obviously, taste is taste. Opinion, opinion.

But if this man is the guy who’s supposed to be the emo know-it-all (read: self-created title/Spin created title), I’m not buying it. The guy doesn’t seem to understand the impulse that emo acts have towards evolution, probably because the very thesis of Nothing Feels Good denies this concept.

He denied Sunny Day any post-Diary existence in his book, cramming much of their timeline into a brief paragraph and noting their later stuff for its prog leanings versus any relationship to emo.

He seemed happier to call The Promise Ring’s Wood/Water “joyless” than express the band’s need to let their music grow, saying when they performed it live opening for Jimmy Eat World, “When Davey strummed his acoustic guitar to thousands of eager teenagers at a sold-out Roseland Ballroom in New York City, he was greeted with implacable silence, the sight of an entire generation of music fans regarding him like they had just caught their dad moshing” (NFG, p 125). Opinions abound about Wood/Water, but Greenwald was more than elated to include this one show as evidence that TPR went “dad rock” and left emo, when in fact their new music retained much of the spirit of earlier albums, but held a newfound sense of wonder and exploration into non three-chord territory. And why did the kids greet the band with silence? How many big, sold-out shows did you go to for the opening act? It’s commonplace for fans at big ballroom/arena shows not to know a damn thing about an opener: when they’re playing music like what’s on Wood/Water, what’s a more appropriate response than simply watching in silence? (Go to an acoustic show where you don’t know the musician and see how you react).

Greenwald wrote this about Chris Carrabba:

“And I think: in some small way, it’s already past him. Dashboard Confessional was an emo moment, not an emo career. Carrabba may have many more years and songs ahead of him, but those frustrated, tormented ballads will live on. His worst moments may well outlive his best moments. He has pushed the punk/emo model as far as it can go…” (p 265)

He wrote that just before A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar came out, before Carrabba really broke emo into the mainstream, remade “Hands Down” into a genuine hit and a car commercial-worthy song, and became a Billboard-topping recording artist at number 2. And then again in 2006 at number 2. And then again in 2007 at number 18. And all performing music that, gasp, was in the exact same vein as before.

Greenwald got all that dead wrong, and he’s dead wrong about Brand New. Considering Greenwald is speaking for what is believed to be the voice of emo for critics, for some reason his voice holds some water, even after emo continued to conquer the Billboard charts in ways he hadn’t properly predicted when he wrote Nothing Feels Good. His opinion is his opinion, but to say that Brand New hasn’t written any new material as an “emo conessuire” all while practically every other critic has hailed the band’s last two releases, and fans have pushed their music to the top of the Billboard charts (number 6 just today). Something just doesn’t add up. Considering Greenwald considers himself the “voice of emo” and yet he cannot seem to fathom why or how or that Brand New could write their new material is plain laughable. I’m all for dissenting opinions, but I find his just kind of ridiculous.

Brand New – “Gasoline”:

Could Chuck?

Chuck Klosterman swung through Boston last week, doing a talk at the Hard Rock Cafe that was hardly publicized. But, perhaps I’m just not looking in the right places. 

I did a little piece for Bostonist on what I might have heard had I attended the event; check it out here.

For most folks, Klosterman’s epitome – and their introduction to the writer – is Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs. Out of all the essays in that collection, the best of them all is the first in the book, “This Is Emo.” Which, of course, has nothing to do with emo, but rather Klosterman’s frustration with the romantic longing of romance in our society. Fantastic piece, but when it comes to actually writing about emo, Klosterman’s stuff is few and far between and rather paltry. I did discover a piece he did for his montly Spin column called “The Rock Lexicon.” Klosterman’s definition of emo is more or less the usual and aligned with Andy Greenwald’s school of thought (and of course, as Greenwald is a Spin writer), but his conversation with his sister points out a lot of the paradoxes within emo in the mainstream:


“’I don’t read your magazine anymore,’ says my 36-year-old sister as we ride in a rental car. ‘I don’t read your magazine anymore because all you guys ever write about is emo, and I don’t get it.’

Now, for a moment, I find myself very interested in what my sister is saying. I absolutely cannot fathom what she could possibly hate about emo, and (I suspect) this subject might create an interesting ten minutes of rental-car discussion. Does she find emo too phallocentric? Do the simplistic chord progressions strike her as derivative? Why can’t she relate to emo? I ask her these questions, and I await her answer. But her answer is not what I expect.

‘No, no,’ she says. ‘When I say I don’t get emo, I mean I literally don’t know what it is. The word may as well be Latin. But I keep seeing jokes about emo in your magazine, and they’re never funny, because I have no idea what’s supposed to be funny about something I’ve never heard of.’

This, of course, leads to a spirited dialogue in which I say things like ‘‘Emo’ is short for emotional,’ and she says things like ‘But all pop music is about emotions,’ and I respond by saying, ‘It’s technically a style of punk rock, but it’s actually more of a personal, introspective attitude,’ and she counters with ‘That sounds boring,’ and then I mention Andy Greenwald (author of Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo), and she asks, ‘Wasn’t Andy Greenwald a defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the late ’70s?’ and I say, ‘No, that was L.C. Greenwood, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know any of the members of Senses Fail.'”

That’s that.

*Chuck Klosterman being interviewed about Downtown Owl: