The Emo Education Thread
A Brief Emo History
"Emo" is a shortened term for emotive or emotional hardcore. Originally, it was used mostly by kids who were faithful to the early DC hardcore punk bands like Minor Threat as a putdown to fans of bands like Indian Summer. Today, it is a more ambiguous term and describes a variety of different styles and is often misinterpreted to just mean emotional music which is obviously wrong seeing as all music is emotional from Tupac, to Bob Dylan to Mozart.
Emo is a derivative from the early 80s hardcore punk movement. The earliest band tried to deviate from the well-established and more violence-shifting hardcore sound, first evidenced in released like Husker Du's "Zen Arcade" in 1984, and later releases from Rites Of Spring and Embrace. This upcoming breed of music was characterized by more intense and passionate vocal delivery while retaining a more tranquilized hardcore punk quality.
The summer of 1985 (termed the "Revolution Summer") marked the emergence of many new bands like Moss Icon, Gray Matter, Shudder To Think, Ignition and Dag Nasty. These bands tended to have a less aggressive more melodic sound with more high to low sound transitions.
By the mid-1990s, there were many derivations of the D.C. style that appeared in different parts of the country, such as the scene in California pushed by Gravity Records. Influenced by bands of the Revolution Summer, prominent bands of this era included, Antioch Arrow, Mohinder, Heroin, Angel Hair, Swing Kids, and Indian Summer. Most of these bands retained the hardcore-influenced sound and were later termed "screamo", for their screaming vocals and more harmonized and melodic riffs. There was also the independent Delaware based label Jade Tree Record featuring post-emo (or indie-emo, indie rock emo, etc) bands such as Texas is the Reason, Jets To Brazil, Promise Ring (earlier albums were more post-emo) and quite a few Kinsella projects such as Owls and Joan of Arc. They would also release the very influential Analphabetapolothology by Cap'n Jazz. These bands held some emo elements but quite a few indie-rock elements, they were much softer with pop guitar riffs. The post-punk and post-hardcore movements had a large influence on these bands. This movement got more notice than the original emo movement and was more commercially successful, though bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and early Jimmy Eat World were more popular then bands such as Cap'n Jazz. The post-emo was movement was heavily scrutinized by loyalists of the original hardcore movement. Labeling such bands as "emo" caused more debate and separatism.
Though more recently the post-emo movement has been less scrutinized because of the clear emo influences it holds. While bands such as Panic! At The Disco and Dashboard Confessional who don't hold no emo influence at all are being credited as emo just because their lyrics are confessional and deal with relationships, or are labeled by scene kids as emo. Theres many problems with this, some of the bands that they label emo hold slight post-emo influences but a lot of those influences they have are not from the original emo movement at all, and are from that the post-emo bands drew from elsewhere. In addition to that the genre itself has no set standards, it seems to be alot of times set by the clothes the band wears or what they decide is emo. Bands they label emo have ranged from heavily prog influenced Coheed and Cambria, to singer/songwriter Bright Eyes, to metalcore act Norma Jean to pop bands like Panic! At The Disco and My Chemical Romance.
There is a lot of musical diversity, ranging from soft guitar riffs to crashing riffs and whispering vocals to screaming. The lyrics can be thought of as a unique form of poetry and are often hard to decipher. They tend to be more personal, and sometimes they can be political in nature. The songwriting has been commonly and ignorantly mischaracterized as being solely depression and sometimes suicide oriented.
Often used interchangeably with “emo”, emo-core was originally used to describe early D.C. bands and later bands that retained the hardcore-influenced sound.
Examples: Rites Of Spring, Indian Summer, Moss Icon, Nation of Ulysses, Dag Nasty, Native Nod, Embrace
Starting in the 1990s with an emo influence, screamo has faster harmonized guitar riffs, screaming vocals, and softer and more melodic breakdowns. Gravity Records was the prominent source for this style of music. The intensified, emotional, and sometimes dramatic screaming performances have been acquired by many of today’s alternative, pop-punk, hardcore, and metal oriented bands. Inevitably, this has caused a divide between fans of this style and early hardcore loyalists. Read more here.
Examples: Circle Takes The Square, pg.99, Orchid, La Quiete, Antioch Arrow, City Of Caterpillar, Neil Perry, Ampere
Post-Emo (a.k.a. Indie Emo)
Musically, indie-based emo is a lot softer, with soften rock or pop guitar riffs. The songs range from uplifting and happy to melancholy. The vocals tend to be high-pitched, but they are not as intense as hardcore or screamo vocals. The post-punk and post-hardcore movements had a large influence on this sound, particularly Husker Du and Fugazi (Guy Picciotto and Ian Mackaye). This indie-based emo is more commercially successful and recognized than the original hardcore movement.
Examples: American Football, Sunny Day Real Estate, Cap’n Jazz, Mineral, Jets To Brazil, Texas Is The Reason, Christie Front Drive,
Level Plane Records
Perpetual Motion Machine Records
Hyper Realist Records
Robotic Empire Records
Electric Human Project Records