Some 30 years after emerging out of the Washington D. Part of the reason is that the genre—while known for its expressive, confessional, and, yes, oftentimes sad lyrics—has resisted hard-and-fast definition. In his authoritative new book, Anthology of Emo , DJ and longtime music industry exec Tom Mullen gathers together six years of interviews with the original heavy hitters of emo—bands like The Get Up Kids, The Promise Ring, and Dashboard Confessional—to form a picture of the genre that extends far beyond guyliner and heartbreak. The most commonly agreed-upon birthplace and time of emo is the mids DC hardcore scene.
Last decade we saw once-maligned punk subgenres like pop punk and emo make big comebacks within "cooler" music like, y'know, "indie rock" and really reach a point where critics couldn't pan, laugh at, or simply ignore those bands like they did in the previous decade. Earlier in the decade, I took a look at pop punk's complicated relationship with indie rock and the enduring influence of pop punk. I also spent a lot of time thinking about the often-blurry lines between maligned emo which you're supposed to grow out of and critically acclaimed indie rock which you're not , and looked at some highly respected bands who escaped getting pigeonholed into emo and some emo bands who didn't even sound that different from Nine Inch Nails or U2 or Radiohead. I also wondered why any of this even matters that much. The life of a music nerd is just an endless food chain of people telling each other whatever music they like isn't as cool or as important or as original as something else, and eventually it all just starts to look like the Spiderman pointing at Spiderman meme. Especially in the age of poptimism, which posits that all art forms are valid art forms and should be evaluated for what they are rather than in opposition to theoretically superior art forms, the continued stigma attached to this type of music -- which does still exist, just less than it used to -- just feels outdated and boring. Times have also changed since this music first began making its comeback and getting its critical reappraisal. When the "emo revival" began, it was about bringing emo back to its underground '90s-era roots, and bands and fans would say things like "emo, but not like, the My Chemical Romance kind. And maybe I'm biased, but it feels like there's nothing uncool about the MCR reunion.
Emo music is often relegated to the past. The Detroit-based quartet Dogleg released their full-length debut, Melee , just this past month. It just makes sense that frontman Alex Stoitsiadis is gaining a reputation for his onstage cartwheels. Replete with unforgettable hooks, stellar guitar work and heart-on-your-sleeve vocal delivery, Jordan captures the ethos of emo music while imbuing it with anthemic indie rock. The album is slated for release sometime this year, and her current catalog underlines plenty of reasons to be excited for it. Julien Baker is quite the sonic mastermind. Aside from its two quasi-ballads, Dabice bellows nearly every note over a backdrop of forceful drums and screeching guitars.