The emo revival comes full circle

Emo Music - American FootballTHERE’S a common perception of emo music that it’s some kind of music-related, eyeliner wearing cult led by My Chemical Romance, but with this article, I’m going to attempt to persuade you there’s much more to emo than that; and that any fans of rock music should give it a fair chance. There’s been some exciting news announced that’s encouraged me to hammer away at my keyboard and battle the music snobbery, too, but more on that later.

Back in 1985, a band called Rites of Spring released their debut and only album. They were surrounded by the hardcore punk scene of Washington D.C., and for all intents and purposes, they were a hardcore punk band. What separated these from the crowd, though, was that they experimented with melody here and there, and their lyrics were generally less political and more introspective- it’s this self-titled Rites of Spring release that many people take to be the birth of emo.

As the 80s macarena’d into the 90s, bands such as Mineral, Braid and Sunny Day Real Estate who were much more melodic, took another step away from punk and developed what Rites of Spring had only hinted at. Although, where I personally find it gets really interesting is with the introduction of Cap ‘n’ Jazz. Led by guitarist/bassist and singer, Mike Kinesella (who’s a bit of a figurehead of the emo scene), Cap ‘n’ Jazz brought intricate riffs and a weirdness to the table that, until now, was unheard of in this emotive rock movement. In fact (on a more general note), if you give Mike Kinesella a Google, and pick any of his projects, you’re going to find something unique and interesting. He’s never stopped writing, recording and touring, and even today he’s involved with some brilliant artists including his ongoing solo project, Owen, and math rock super-group Their / They’re / There.

Enough of the history lesson, fast forward to present day, where for the last few years a bunch of young bands have been replicating and experimenting with the sounds of the so-called mid-west emo scene from 15 to 20 years ago. Bands such as The World Is A Beautiful Place…, Joyce Manor and Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) are all taking influence from the early 90s emo scene, and leading the way for a new creatively-fertile movement.

Returning to the news I mentioned in the first paragraph- there are two new releases coming up that should get any fan of emo on the edge of their seat. The first is a re-release of the 1999 American Football self-titled album. This was another of Mike Kinesella’s projects, and the album was arguably the most influential he has appeared on. The original release combined the grief stricken vocals and guitar tone of the Midwest scene with twinkling math rock riffs- a recipe that is still shown to work beautifully with new bands today. This re-release is going to include a second disk of previously unheard material (including demos and live rehearsal recordings), new liner notes and new photos of the band.

The second exciting piece of news is brand new music from the seminal band, The Jazz June. Much like American Football, The Jazz June were hugely influential, and the release of new music is massive news. They’ll be releasing a new full-length album, which will be produced by Evan Weiss (frontman of the aforementioned Their / They’re / There, and another key figure of the emo revival), as well as a split EP with Dikembe.

These releases bring the revival of the last few years back in a full circle to where its roots lay, and the anticipation surrounding them really shows the size of the movement’s following. Emo is alive and well (ish).

The Dikembe/The Jazz June split is due for release through Tiny Engines and Topshelf Records on 27/5/14 (with the full length LP being released through Topshelf Records later in the year). Polyvinyl are releasing the The American Football re-issue on 20/5/14.