Tag Archives: Taking Back Sunday

List-less

Isn’t it a little to early for those end-of-the-year or end-of-the-decade critics list? Didn’t September just roll around? August hadn’t even ended before Pitchfork rolled out it’s top singles of the 2000s.

Doesn’t it all seem a little too, well, soon? It’s still just September! There are four full months left in the decade! Some kid in the middle of Mississippi could be making the best damn pop tune of the century with a jug and Garageband tomorrow, but for some reason the lists are done. Final. Sorry jug players of tomorrow, today’s history lesson is over.

I get why people make lists. It’s not even necessarily about “being the authority,” especially these days where anyone with an Internet connection and the ability to string verbs, nouns, punctuation, and numbers together with a complete thought can upload their list to every foreseeable computer. (Though in some small sense, anyone who makes a list wants to be the authority on their list.)

In most cases it’s because making these lists are fun. How do you think the guys in High Fidelity manage to get along each and every day without going ballistic? Top 5 lists! I know it’s fun because I’ve done it (on this blog no less). It’s especially fun to go back and see what you thought was the end-all-be-all of a particular year and how your tastes have changed over time. These aren’t the final word on anything. No way, no how. (Though consensus always brings “the classics” to the public, and you can’t go wrong there.)

But of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t get flustered at some lists. Take this one by Stephen Ortiz which cropped up on UConn’s The Daily Campus site: “Great Emo Anthems.” Whilest asking himself what the best emo songs of the past decade were, Ortiz came up with this list:

1. Taking Back Sunday – “Cute Without The ‘E'”

2. The Used – “The Taste of Ink”

3. Yellowcard – “Ocean Avenue”

4. Senses Fail – “Can’t Be Saved”

5. A Day To Remember – “I’m Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?”

Huh?

What?

Really?

There are always things one finds questionable with lists like these. But I have to wonder what Ortiz was thinking with this list. Let’s just take a think here for a second. Take out A Day To Remember, because, really, what? And as far as Yellowcard, they were always considered widely to be more pop-punk than emo; that’s the “all sensitivity is emo” argument, and in that style of pop punk, wasn’t New Found Glory always considered to be more “emo” than Yellowcard?

What’s left? Nothing I could really consider top 5 emo anthems. “The Taste of Ink” may have been a hit, but it doesn’t place anywhere near top 5 (I’m surprised the band is still around to be perfectly honest). But “Cute without the ‘E'” was always something of a tune beloved by diehard TBS fans. And Senses Fail… I won’t bother there.

But are these anthems? Take a look at the definition of the word:

1 a rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group, body, or cause : the song became the anthem for hippie activists.

I’d hardly call any of these anthems. I can think of 5 emo songs from this decade that are more anthemic to the general population (nevermind emo fans) than these songs fairly quickly. Let’s take a gander, and in no particular order:

Jimmy Eat World – “The Middle” (really, that song was inescapable in ’02)

Dashboard Confessional – “Hands Down” (wasn’t this the dude that made emo the thing at the start of the decade? Yes, I believe so)

Coheed & Cambria – “A Favor House Atlantic” (fairly inescapable in 03/04)

Say Anything – “Alive With The Glory Of Love” (is one of the few pop songs of the decade that had a 2nd life; once when it came out as a song on an independent record in 04, and then again when the album was reissued on a major label)

Taking Back Sunday – “A Decade Under The Influence” (dur)

See? Fairly easy. I even tossed in a TBS song more non-fans are probably familiar with. And this was all done without thinking what is a better song or a song I enjoy more, but instead what most people would call an anthem. There were so many great “emo” songs of the decade that any list would be missing some stuff. People will no doubt forget the Maritimes, Jeremy Enigks, Pedro The Lions, hell, even the Fugazis when making these lists… and well, that’s the way it goes.

I will probably make a list or two towards the end of the year. Probably nothing as monolithic as a “best albums of the decade,” because my rabid interest in music and knowledge of what was coming out every day wasn’t like what it is today. But, something will crop up. And I’ll be sure to have fun with it.

Taking Back Sunday at Government Center

It’s hard to turn down a free concert, even if that means watching Taking Back Sunday. Especially considering the underlying theme o’ this blog.

I’ve never been entirely “in” to TBS. Just something about them never really caught me, even though I was their prime target when they first hit it big. I can understand the positives and the negatives for and against the band, and in most ways they really epitomize the 3rd wave version of emo that was being cranked out five some years ago. Dashboard was the band on every journalist’s lisps, but TBS was the band like all the other emo bands; their lyrics and music was thoroughly average. Average as in they could easily fit in the middle of a set by any guitar-oriented emo band coming out in that period of time… they sounded just like everyone else and vice versa. Not too many folks took to the acoustic troubadeour style in the emo realm, and in that TBS really are representative of the then-hottest word in the music world.

Anyway, back to Friday night, where TBS were set to play at Boston’s Government Center.

I get there a little after 9, which was when TBS were supposed to go on, only to find some random metal band, Crooked X, doing a really terrible cover of “Another Brick In The Wall” that allowed them to show off their wicketd skillzzzz. ZZZ is more like it. Boring and more than a little trite, and they managed to pack in all the rock’N’roll stereotypes into a solid ten minute perfomance of the song (seriously, how many times do you have to introduce every band member while playing the same riff for five minutes and declaring your love for the audience?) Then some random dude from MTV2 (or some MTV offshoot) did his whole routine of pumping up the audience and shouting one of the most redundant questions that there is: “who likes free stuff?!?!” (ans: everyone) …and it’s more like free advertising, w/free t-shirts with some odd company logo on it (who can keep up these days) while a big Verizon sign stood monolithically in the background.

In the half hour it took to set up, people were busy texting to the big Verizon screen next to the stage, while every once in a while someone would come onstage in order to direct a lost kid to their guardian or cousin for the show. It’s really nice to know that, even with all the mass advertisement and corporate machismo, kids of all ages are able to see what is a fairley big and well known band. And for free. Unfortunately, at several points, many in the crowd would shout the name of the lost kid in a taunting manner… as if they were never some lost confused kid in a crowd.

Anyway, half an hour later and the band went on, with what’s probably 4 new band members. I’d seen TBS perform in that very spot two summers ago, and I distinctly remember a bunch of completely different musicians, save the original guitarist (Eddie Reyes) and frontman (Adam Lazzara). It turns out they’ve now got a bit of a history for a revolving cast of musicians, and it’s good to see they’ve got a sense of humor about it with selling “I Used To Be In Taking Back Sunday” t-shirts for $20.

ALL IT TAKES IS $20 TO HAVE BEEN IN TAKING BACK SUNDAY. ($15.99 online + tax + shipping)

And get a nice yellow t-shirt to boot.

Anyway, they played a couple of new tunes to start out, which seem kinda glossed over radio-pop that sort of resemble their previous material, but in a washed up manner. With the sound cutting in and out, and three guitarists, and Lazzara’s vocal rarely audible for some reason or another, it seemed kinda… well, meh. Meh is the perfect describing word.

Then they launched into some of their older material. And there was a difference. Back in the day, I would always wonder at how they were on the radio. Crammed between the average Creed and circa-90s Green Day song, it would focus on how odd they sounded on the radio. It literally sounded like a revolution was happening, that musical change was occuring on corporate radio. Lazzara’s vocals are the least bit typical of anything you could hear on the radio – neither particularly strong or confident, and yes a bit whiny. And the lyrics crammed every word viable into a short amount of space. And the chug-a-lug of the songs mixed in with these blasts of noise around the chorus, even given what grunge did, so odd.

And yet I forgot how damn catchy they are. TBS now aren’t nearly as catchy now, their lyrics are even more bland, etc etc etc. But man, is there this blast that just hits you and it’s unexpected, and the vocal harmonies. You don’t expect it. Especially today, when they’ve gotten so formulaic.

I left a couple of songs after “A Decade Under The Influence,” because there was nothing more I really needed to see. The band was slopy and a bit of a shadow of what they once were. Even in that one moment, I could somehow, somehow overlook the malintented lyrics and overall bland output of the band recently. But, it was a solid few minutes, and that’s all I could ask for from that band and on a Friday when there really wasn’t much going on at 9:30. Backhanded compliment? Perhaps. But it might be the best I could ever give ’em. It could be the nostalgia speaking (but really, I’m not terribly nostalgic for high school), but those few minutes were O-KAY.

Bamboozled!

Tonight at Harpers Ferry, Enter Shikari‘s singer Rou had something rather stunning to say about performing at Bamboozle the previous day:

“Every band sounded exactly the same.”

There was more in that quote than just the one line, pretty much along the lines of how terrible all the bands were, which is a bit interesting simply because Enter Shikari’s trancecore travels along the same path as a good chunk of the emo and screamo acts that played Bamboozle this year, although they do have a pretty distinct sound in comparison to many a Taking Back Sunday wannabe. In fact, it’s by no stretch of the imagination to think that Enter Shikari’s mix of techno and hardcore had some impact on the “scrunk scene“: Enter Shikari hit it big in the UK in 2006 with a couple of singles that mixed post-hardcore’s heavy, low-end guitar work and juxtaposition between screaming and singing and trance’s lush electronic compositions, and then hit the top of the charts in the spring of ’07 with Take To The Skies. The band really touched down in the US via videogames, as a couple of their big hits made their way into EA Sports NHL 2008 and Madden Football 2008. It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to think that out in Arizona, the future members of Brokencyde picked up Madden Football and found some musical inspiration… or something like that.

Enter Shikari explained their Bamboozle predicament further on their Twitter:

picture-16

Check out Bostonist tomorrow for a review of their show at Harpers.

Enter Shikari – “Sorry You’re Not A Winner” (video):

Just Short…

So, for folks who’ve been following along in this blog, I submitted a proposal to Continuum’s 33 1/3 series to write a book about The Promise Ring’s Nothing Feels Good. Series editor David Barker emailed everyone who submitted a proposal today concerning those he picked to make it to the shortlist, the final compilation short of the 20 or so that Continuum will select to be turned into fully-fleshed out books (you can check out the shortlist). Unfortunately, my proposal wasn’t chosen for this list, for simple space reasons on the shortlist (I emailed David to find out specifics of why my proposal was turned down and it turns out it was one of a handful that barely missed the cut). In any case, I really enjoyed writing this proposal and speaking to those involved in creating the album about the process of writing a book on Nothing Feels Good. Rather than let it go to waste, I’ve decided to post my proposal here, below, for your enjoyment, complete with some multimedia elements that could not have been included in what was submitted to 33 1/3, but are helpful illustrators nonetheless. Enjoy it… and if anyone has any interest in further pursuing this project with me in some other forum, please feel free to contact me:

33 1/3 Book Proposal:

The Promise Ring’s Nothing Feels Good

Guilty pleasures tend to rear their heads in an interview with music’s next big thing. So when a VBS TV correspondent was chatting it up with No Age, the uber-hip and critically acclaimed experimental punk duo from L.A., singer/drummer Dean Spunt interrupted guitarist Randy Randall’s ruminations on MC Hammer with a shocking revelation:

“I used to like The Promise Ring.”
Beat.
“Yeah, so did I,” replied the stylish interviewer.
The three guys proceeded to awkwardly chuckle and talk over each other until the interviewer brought up his stunning thought:
“Is it really at the point where MC Hammer is less embarrassing than The Promise Ring?”

Great question. And not unlike one I ask myself just about every time I crank up my stereo while playing 30 Degrees Everywhere or Wood/Water. What’s so embarrassing about The Promise Ring? It could be the band’s association with emo, the now-repugnant term for a post-hardcore genre that’s all but taken over the Billboard charts. It was the release of 1997’s Nothing Feels Good that the four “averages Joes” that made up The Promise Ring were presented with the title of poster boys of a genre once thought to be six feet under. The rest of the trials and tribulations of emo remain embedded in our international conscience thanks to numerous pop-punk acts influenced by The Promise Ring. Say what you will about your Fall Out Boys, My Chemical Romances, Dashboard Confessionals, Cute Is What We Aim Fors, Thrices, Taking Back Sundays, Panic! at the Discos, Saves the Days, Coheed & Cambrias, Alexisonfires, New Found Glorys, and Underoaths; when push comes to shove, most of these bands don’t come close to the potent passion, intelligence, and vibrancy of The Promise Ring and their sophomore effort, Nothing Feels Good.

Embarrassment aside, Spunt should have nothing to be ashamed of for name-dropping The Promise Ring as a band that’s clearly influenced the critically-lauded musician. The Promise Ring’s back catalog is filled with nugget and gems of post-hardcore-meets-pop bliss, and much like when No Age’s current work combining elements of pop with hardcore, the results are fantastic. Nothing Feels Good is The Promise Ring’s best and most succinct work, an anthemic, passionate burst of homegrown pop-punk, filtered through tales of existential crises, cross-country road trips, and references to modern Americana. The hooks are sharp, the lyrics poignant, and the performance still as unbelievably urgent as the day the original tapes were mastered over a decade ago.

Part of what’s so phenomenal about The Promise Ring’s Nothing Feels Good is the impact the album had when it hit record stores in the fall of 1997. Neatly-packaged emo-pop amalgams are a dime a dozen these days, but there was nothing “neat” about Nothing Feels Good when it was released. Although the album’s music has the sugary-sweet taste of bubblegum pop that numerous artists today no doubt want to tap into, the band’s sound subverts the pretenses of slick pop on Nothing Feels Good with quick bursts of hardcore-influenced instrumentation that seem intent on spilling out of each track marking and into the life of the listener. To mis-quote The Promise Ring, it displays a sense that the band had of having no defined sense or absolute understanding of the world around them, but simply enjoying the view. Life’s peculiarities, ambiguities, and “big questions” aren’t shunned, but brought to the surface with keen observation. In frontman Davey von Bohlen’s hands and sweetly contorted lisp – a performance factor that only makes the music on Nothing Feels Good sound an umpteenth more sincere – The Promise Ring made an album of daring proportions and a musical document to the banalities, every day norms, and even celebrations of human existence not heard since Nirvana’s Nevermind.

Nothing Feels Good cover

Nothing Feels Good cover

Part of the story behind Nothing Feels Good is known, but little of it has a concentrated focus on the actual album or the band behind it. Beyond the musical content, Nothing Feels Good was a smashing success. For Jade Tree – The Promise Ring’s label – it meant financial stability, as the album surpassed their modest predictions and allowed the company to flourish, something of a miracle in the years following the alternative music buyout which had left many independent record labels for dead. For the national emo scene – a ragtag, ambiguous assemblage of independent artists around the U.S. – it legitimized their work in the face of the post-grunge milieu that ruled the radio waves and crippled mainstream creativity. For the members of The Promise Ring, it meant video premiers on MTV, critical acclamation, a position as one of the most creative bands operating in America’s underground music scene, and, much later, a place in cult-music lore for having inspired countless musicians to take emo (or whatever genre they called their own) in new and distinctly personal directions.

Although we’re still feeling the impact of Nothing Feels Good today, the known-narrative of the album’s creation is bare. What inspired the dozen songs on the album, and what transpired in their evolution from muddled creative concept into full-blown pop gold? What about the practices that hammered out the hooks, high-hats, and lo-fi hits in The Promise Ring’s oeuvre? What about the guys behind the instruments, their day-to-day existences and thoughts that no doubt burrowed their way into the band’s sophomore album? What were the moments before, during, and after 1997 that made Nothing Feels Good stand out from a mass of other bands and recordings that make up emo’s so-called second wave? What about each member’s upbringing, their lives in the Milwaukee area, relationships with friends, family, and significant-others? What made four young men band together to form The Promise Ring and create such a phenomenal release as heard in Nothing Feels Good?

These are the pivotal questions I’m seeking to answer with my book on The Promise Ring’s Nothing Feels Good for Continuum’s 33 1/3 book series. Here is an album and a band who’s impact on music today in innumerable. Part of the unknown quality of The Promise Ring’s importance is due to the fact that these deep-seated questions have never been asked – or rather, published – on such a large-scale forum. Considering the fans that the band amassed since forming in 1995, a list that no doubt has been growing with every article, band, or cultural critic name-checking the quartet as one of indie rock’s great cult bands, The Promise Ring are more than due for their proper place in the rock narrative limelight. And the 33 1/3 series is the place I would like to bring the tale of The Promise Ring’s best album.

For this project, I plan on writing the kind of book that exemplifies the credence imbued in Nothing Feels Good. My model for this manuscript isn’t confined to the band-nostalgically-reminiscing-on-a-piece-of-the-past-type writing you may see in a lot of oral histories or straightforward music books out there. Certainly my work will represent the mold that previous 33 1/3 books have upheld, but I’m also inspired by the writing styles of the great new journalists and literary non-fiction pieces. In essence, I’m looking to produce a book that lives, breathes, eats, speaks, and plays music the way that the members of The Promise Ring did when they made Nothing Feels Good. I want to make someone who’s never heard the album feel as though they’ve been following the band since Day One, that they’re back in 1997 and sprinting to the record store in order to merely touch an album by a band that has touched them. Essentially, I want to write a book about The Promise Ring in the same way the band created their music.

My main informants for this project will be the members of The Promise Ring; as I want to get into their heads and extract information about their environment, attitudes, and memories, they will be my go-to source for the book. I’ve been in touch with Promise Ring singer/guitarist Davey von Bohlen for well over a year, having recruited his current band (Maritime) for a concert and Davey himself for a previous writing project. I have been corresponding with von Bohlen about this proposal for well over a month, and he has given this project his supportive and enthusiastic seal of approval, and has gotten me in touch with the other members of The Promise Ring. At the moment that I’ve submitted this proposal, I’ve been in touch with two other Promise Ring members, Jason Gnewikow (guitar) and Dan Didier (drums), and both are quite enthusiastic about the project. I plan on having extensive interviews with these three members, as well as the two bass players who played in The Promise Ring during their Nothing Feels Good era, Scott Schoenbeck and Scott Beschta.

Although interviews with the members of The Promise Ring will constitute a large portion of my research, I plan on culling information from as many sources as possible in order to make the narrative more vibrant and colorful. I plan on soliciting interviews with not only those closely associated to the band, but also their detractors and adoring fans. Alongside a list that includes friends and family, I plan on speaking to Tim Owen and Darren Walters (Jade Tree owners), J. Robbins (Nothing Feels Good producer), Stuart Sikes (Nothing Feels Good engineer), Jessica Hopper (former publicist), Tim Edwards (former booking agent), Josh Modell (creator of Milk Magazine and close friend), along with musicians who’ve worked with, influenced, or been influenced by The Promise Ring, including Tim and Mike Kinsella (Cap’n Jazz), Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World), Bob Nanna (Braid), Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate), Matthew Pryor (The Get Up Kids), Eric Richter (Christie Front Drive), Eric Axelson (The Dismemberment Plan/Maritime), Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional), Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy), Chris Simpson (Mineral), Chris Conley (Saves the Day), Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon), Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi), and countless others for their involvement in this project. Although not everyone listed is guaranteed to be involved, with my personal connections to some of the people previously listed and with the help from the former Promise Ring members, I will have an enormous number of people contributing to the book’s dialog.

Interviews aside, I plan on digging through swaths of information to aide in the creation of the book. Included will be the usual sources of information; articles on the band, reviews of their albums, zines, blogs, and any other published work that would enhance the narrative. But, I plan to go beyond those musings as well. I will approach the band members to see if I could use personal paraphernalia to help me spin a more personal yarn. This would include anything from old photographs, letters, journal entries, lyric sheets, music sheets, and even doodles scratched into scraps of paper they’ve kept through the years. I will also approach the narrative from the direction of an informed anthropologist by researching the socio-economic background of The Promise Ring’s hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Through census information, background information on area high school and college education systems, and the resources for youth in Wisconsin that was available at the same time Nothing Feels Good was in the making, I hope to gain a better sense of The Promise Ring’s background. I’ll also dig up information on American society’s views of Wisconsin and the Mid West and how that was reflected in the actions of those who lived there. It may seem onerous, but the brief scene in Wayne’s World that takes place in Milwaukee speaks volumes about the international perception of the place where The Promise Ring was formed. Throughout all of this, I hope to get a sense of why The Promise Ring did what they did, but from an entirely different perspective than the usual interview could warrant.

What I hope to accomplish after 15 months of research and writing is a work that can live up to how I felt after first popping Nothing Feels Good on the stereo, and something that will be as powerful as each subsequent listen to that album. My work may lack the aural quality of the album, but I hope it will be able to bring an entirely new sense of being to Nothing Feels Good, and one that will only boost the listening experience of longtime Promise Ring enthusiasts and bring some new fans to the album as well.

Merry X-Mas

Here are some interpretations of holiday classics by a couple o’ emo acts, and some interpretations of emo on Christmas day, some of which have been literally uploaded from YouTube within the past 24 hours or so (I apologize in advance if they are of poor quality – I’ll admit I haven’t watched these videos in full quite yet). Enjoy:

*Taking Back Sunday – Twelve Days of Christmas (animated version):

*My Chemical Romance – All I Want For Christmas Is You (Cover):

*It’s An Emo Christmas Charlie Brown:

*Emo Christmas:

*A Very Emo Christmas:

Emotional About Environmentalism

Radiohead released the video for “House of Cards” early Monday morning. The video is not just a continuation of the band’s subvert-the-norm conceptualization through the use of the internet; it’s also a promotion of their inclinations towards positively affecting the environment. The video was filmed without the use of cameras as the band opted to use 3D plotting technologies to create the on-screen narrative.

Of course, you could read pretty deep into the visual concept of the video. Is the destruction of power-lines (outlined in red) meant to symbolize a sense of negativity directed at our society’s drain on the amount of available energy? Maybe yes, maybe no, but beyond the message of the “House of Cards” video and the method Radiohead chose to create it, the band has been a forward-thinking unit on the subject of the environment. As the world’s “biggest” musical acts were chastised for traveling to their various Live Earth performances last year, Radiohead were nowhere to be seen. Instead of joining in on critiquing their peers on environmental protection, Radiohead have taken the higher and independent road towards helping the environment. Using their status as one of the biggest acts in the world, they’ve done everything from getting fans to calculate their carbon footprint, to their green-friendly performance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, to providing a major chunk of live material (in the guise of a performance by Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke) on the Artists Taking Action On Climate Change compilation. Cynics can call it a gimmick, but Radiohead have used their position in pop culture for an excellent cause.

Although certainly not as well known as Radiohead, emo act Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly has been a force in environmental action in their native UK. Or should I say “his” native UK. GCWCF was created by Sam Duckworth, and the rest of the band has offered more of a stage-presence than a recorded or creative force. Combining lo-fi indie and folk with the vocal stylings of third-wave emo (think acoustic Taking Back Sunday with even less screaming) and Dashboard Confessional-type acoustic underpinnings.

Sam Duckworth

Sam Duckworth

Although GCWCF may seem something not-out-of-the-ordinary to American listeners, his actions as a musician are certainly admirable. Duckworth is an ardent supporter and champion of everything from Free Trade to Love Music Hate Racism – an activist group aiming at subverting the acts of UK racist organizations. Perhaps it’s unsurprising then that Duckworth would be an ardent supporter of positive environmental action; he’s done everything from DJing the World Environment Day Trust concert in London to conducting television and magazine interviews concerning environmental protection and green-friendly touring.

Sure, it may be a far cry from seeing numerous bands make albums filled with their own versions of “Burning Too” – the environmentally conscience song off of Fugazi’s 13 Songs. But, as Fugazi have been heralded for sticking their positive and political beliefs, it’s important to recognize the actions that acts take in order to ensure that they’re up to snuff with their ideals. He may not be at Radiohead’s level, but Sam Duckworth and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly certainly make their ideas an important part of their image. And in the world of emo, where image has come to be more important in the eyes of the media and mainstream, there’s nothing wrong with a little positive change.

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – Waiting For The Monster To Drown (free download)

GCWCF – War of the Worlds (live, BBC 1):

A Word on Words

Hey folks,

Gonna make this one quick and then I’m going to take the weekend off. I recently recieved a comment for my Coheed & Cambria post that was not only in poor taste, but horribly written, argued and against the entire point of this blog. This blog is about an openness towards the entire idea of emo in general, and is made in response to the close-minded view of emo. Calling someone an “emo bitch” is basically reiterating all of the negative stereotypes of our society in general, and are a simple sign of frustration at an inability to create any arguable concept. I’m all for creating a conversation about the topic (that’s the point of this blog), but outside of that, attacking me as an individual and not my argument is just poor. So a few thoughts here…

1) The comment attacked me for my supposed sole love of emo. For anyone who knows me or has read even a hint of this blog, I’m a lover of any and all genres. In fact, most of the music that I discuss that is made within the recent past is in fact not emo. Hip-hop, art-punk, indie… it’s a mish-mash of genres.

2) On Coheed & Cambria being emo: to me, emo is of relatively loose definition. If you want a straight up definition, here it is: a subgenre of post-hardcore originating from the mid-80s DC punk scene, where musicians subverted the rule-based notions that plagued hardcore by imbuing it with ambiguous and outside notions of music and lyrics. Much like post-punk, the definition of post-hardcore relies on reliving the original concepts of hardcore (ie punk to its outer extremes), and the what separates emo from other post-hardcore genres is a strong focus on multi-dimensional lyrics that are meant to connect to all who are welcome to the ideas present (ie building a community) and are based in the personal predicaments of the maturation of the lyrics’ writers (everything from politics to yes, love).

So when I hear that Coheed & Cambria are not emo, I have to laugh. They do confine to the flexibility of the genre’s essence. The infamous commenter noted that they are prog and metal, which is true, they do make use of that. But somehow that makes Coheed not emo? False. Clearly this person only has a close-minded interpretation of emo overall, which was why I established this blog in the first place – to combat that. Clearly this person has never opened their mind up to the mind-numbing emo-cum-art-punk of Happy Go Licky (featuring all four members of Rites of Spring, the originators of emo), the exhilirating combination of funk, metal, go-go, emo, classic rock, and a touch of hip-hop of Fugazi, never thought to pick up the later work by Sunny Day Real Estate (or their follow-up, side project, The Fire Theft) which drenches the sound of early 90s emo in a great lake of progressive rock. These acts and individuals made emo such a vibrant, creative, and ambiguous force against the tyranny of definition that has carried the genre/culture/whatever to its current state. And Coheed’s combination of third wave emo (the aesthetics that mark Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, and tons of others – cathartic punk-based musics derived from the original DC aesthetic) with progressive and metal is no different. They just provide a different musical melenge from their peers, which set them apart in their community; Coheed toured with these bands (on various treks and the usual Warped Tour) and particiapted in the community forum of the record label (Equal Vision is one of the largest independent labels supporting emo in its third wave, releasing albums by artists from Alexisonfire, Saves The Day, Armor For Sleep, and a host of others). To say that Coheed is not emo would break the very ideas that continue to make emo so hard to define in the typical concept of a musical genre.

3) So how come I can enjoy Coheed’s earlier work and not their later work? Because if I only supposedly don’t listen to anything but emo, according to the infamous comment, I shouldn’t be able to stand to any of Coheed’s music at all. Period. What a fallacy of an argument. Seriously. The reason I can barely listen to the newest Coheed album isn’t because it isn’t emo, it’s because it just isn’t that great.

Finally, this is meant to be a forum for positive reaction about one of the most negatively associated genres in music/cultural movements today. So, if you would like to provide a fluid and well-thought argument, be my guest. But if you walk in with close-minded assumptions about emo and can only take out your frustrations on the author, well you’ve obviously come to the wrong place.

So, excuse me for that, but I made this blog in an attempt to create positive change – please take your negative concepts elsewhere.

Have a great weekend! I promise more cultural insights and how they relate to emo quite soon. Until then, goodbye!