Emo, a genre that borders the line between punk rock, hardcore, and indie music. The biggest and most confusing thing about emo is “what the *heck* is emo anyway? Well, I can tell you a little about emo, but still, it’s best for you to decide what emo means to you. If you wanna be a snob about it though emo simply is emotional personal lyrics, mixed with some technical guitar and drum work.
Emo was birthed in DC in the mid eighties as a way for some folks to make hardcore music, but with more emphasis on personal feelings, whether it’s personal life, love lost, friendships lost, or hell, some even border that line of punk and just talk about politics. They just do it in a more personal way.
Here’s the first wave of emo, and I’ll have a track list here with some info on the bands, and maybe some personal suggestions for said bands, or other similar bands! Enjoy!
Oh, hey, by the way, my name is Johnny Ketchum. I’m new here.
01. Antioch Arrow – Too Bad You’re Gonna Die
From San Diego, Antioch Arrow was a band that only lasted a few years, but made a big splash in the newly dubbed “screamo” scene. Vocalist Aaron Montaigne’s feelings really come through in their songs, then sometimes he just sounds flat out sick of it all. This kinda thing made Antioch Arrow amazing, and a fantastic band to see live. Their last show ever took place in Boulder, Colorado in the summer of ’94. I was raised in San Diego around this scene, and moved out to Colorado to try and create my own scene. It sorta happened, but didn’t last. No other band can mimic Antioch Arrow’s feeling, and energy, but the also disbanded Scowler did an amazing job somewhat recapturing that energy. Check em out!
02. Drive Like Jehu – New Math
Once again, a band from San Diego. Yeah, I know I said emo was birthed in DC, but while that was going on, some amazing bands across the country were doing the same thing. Drive Like Jehu is one of those bands did one thing, and they did that one thing so god damn well. They are one of the forefathers of emo, and helped shape the sound from hardcore punk into emo. Drummer Mark Trombino also probably produced, mixed, or engineered one of your favorite albums. The man also has an amazing donut shop here in Los Angeles called Donut Friend, where he pays homage to some of your favorite emo bands.
03. Embrace – Dance of Days
From Washington DC, Embrace only was around for about a year, but their impact is huge, and spawned some beloved emo bands you will hear more from in the rest of this mix. Ian MacKaye has begun the emo take over of post harcore, and hates every moment a writer calls his band “emo-core”
04. Swing Kids – Situation on Mars
Now back to San Diego, Swing Kids were one of the late comers to the first wave emo scene barely cutting it. Highly influenced by Drive Like Jehu and Antioch Arrow they found their own identity in a very distinct lyrical take, and a more thrash sound. Justin Pearson is a personal hero of mine, and I could suggest you every band he’s ever been in, but the key ones are probably The Locust, Head Wound City, and Retox. Some Girls, and All Leather are amazing too though. Again, I could go on.
05. Policy of 3 – Jet Black
Policy of 3 is a band from New Jersey, where you can easily become eem. I mean, it’s New Jersey. Left-wing political lyrics meshed with all the characteristics of emo and you’ve got Policy of 3. Mostly they’re compared to Moss Icon, Still Life (they’re the band who I used for the mix cover!) and Hoover. Moss Icon and Still Life almost made the cut, in fact.. I kinda blew it by not adding them. They were also on Ebullition Records which has a rich history with emo, oh, and anti-consumerism zine’s.. Also Rage Against the Machine.. Yeah, go read up kids.
06. Portraits of Past – Sticks Together
Hailing from San Francisco, this short lived band helped grow the scene out along the edges of America a bit more, but really what you need to know about Portaits of Past is some members of the band later formed Funeral Diner.. FUCKING FUNERAL DINER! Funeral Diner was an amazing band.. I’m sorry I lost it for a second, but if you know of Funeral Diner you probably would do the same thing. Another pioneer of the “screamo” brand Portraits of Past didn’t last very long, but they did come back for a reunion in 2008.
07. Heroin – Never Ever
San Diego again, Heroin is probably one of the most influential and prolific “screamo” bands out there. Also Aaron Montaigne was in this band as well, so they’re in reality a bit closer to Antioch Arrow then any other band here. with only a couple 7″, 12″ and one CD the band destroyed, and you’ll be better if you give their discography a listen. They’re amazing.. but I must admit the next band on this mix is one of my all time favorites.
08. Angel Hair – Pre-Super Model
Birthed in Boulder, Colorado and then moved to San Diego, California Angel Hair is one of the most amazing bands you’ll ever listen to. Truly the greatest “screamo” bands you’ll ever listen to. Pregnant With The Senior Class is literally in my top ten records ever, opening with the track “Witch Hunt Scene From Star Trek” it’s hard not to be completely polarized by this record, and band. Plus they literally recorded this record in my home town, Chula Vista, California. YOU CAN’T TOP THAT!
09. Rites of Spring – End on End
All hail the Rites of Spring, because they are the embodiment of emo. Guy Picciotto and Brendan Canty went on later to form Fugazi. Which, again.. Ian MacKaye was in, and was heavily associated with Rites of Spring. While San Diego rules this mix, DC was the beginning and will always be the home of emo.
You can listen to the rest of the emo mixes I’ve made over at 8tracks.com, or you can wait for these posts which I will be making once a week! the only thing you’re gonna get from reading these is a bit of history, maybe some opinions, and some other suggestions.
Thank you to everyone here at Invisible Cat Patrol for allowing me to finally talk music again!