I posted this exact same thing a long time ago and nobody bothered to read.Emo, over the years, has become a very broad title that covers different styles of emotionally-charged punk rock. Many people have a very limited idea of what emo actually is, mainly due to the fact that the most influencial emo music ever made was released on vinyl and limited to few copies. Over the years since 1984-85, new terms have surfaced which helps give a better understanding to emotionally charged punk rock and its subgenres.
Emocore, Emo, Hardcore Emo and Post-Emo Indie Rock
Emocore : It all started in DC back in '84 and moved quickly to the San Francisco Bay area in '89, then it just exploded all over the rest of the nation. Most emocore bands consisted of people who were previously in hardcore punk bands (such as Minor Threat) but felt punk was too dull. They then became more guitar oriented and drove songs at a midtempo beat with a rock base sound, and also introduced more emotional vocals. The main thing about emocore is the guitars: they're distorted and played in unison with the ocassional catchy riff. This becomes known as the 'DC Sound.'
Emocore bands : Rites of Spring, Gray Matter, early Lifetime, Samiam, Hot Water Music, Ignition, Jawbreaker, Kerosene 454
Emo : Started in DC in '87-'88 with bands inspired by the post-hardcore bands which covered new sounds within a punk scene. Emo music utilized the octave chords and mingled with soft, whispered vocals and nice pretty guitar which would. Although songs may have started off calm, most of them would break out into very harsh guitar and screams. The vocal style is much more intense than emocore, ranging from just singing to almost sobbing vocals. Many emo bands would treat a song like a book, an epic poem if you will- they would build up very slowly to the climax where someone, usually the vocalist, actually cried during the performance. This is why very many emo bands lasted mere weeks; it was an emotional outlet and people understood that. Lyrics were more like abstract poetry and were hard to decipher, and productions of record inserts had lyrics, but they were often disorganized and difficult to read (one good example would be Taking Back Sunday's 'Tell All Your Friends' CD insert). Also, the inserts were either written by hand or by antique typewriters, containing no punctuation. The only info about the band listed was their first names and any other information about the songs never existed on the insert. Black and white photographs of broken things, usually machinery, drawings of nature, pictures of old men and children were often associated with emo music. Live, emo bands played with their backs to the crowd during soft, quiet parts. During rocking out parts, they would almost seizure on stage and knock things over, jumping wildly. Even an emo dance was developed dubbed the 'emo tremble.' It's an odd form where the dancer would clap her hands, wring them from time to time, would lean forward, then bounce quickly onto the balls of her feet, and shake her upper torso in time to the music. There was also the 'emo chest tap' that went on in the North East. Commercialism is very repressed in the emo scene. There were hardly any shirts, most records were put out on home ran labels and 7" were $3, LPs $5, CDs $8. Shows were no more than $5. When an emo band recorded, they used analog only, which was also very cheaply done with a tendency towards live tracking. All equipment is tube gear and until recently, most emo pressings were on vinyl only.
Emo bands : The Hated, Native Nod, Indian Summer, Sleepytime Trio, Evergreen, Embassy, Moss Icon
Hardcore Emo : Started in Jersey in '90 with Merel and Iconoclast, but becomes more prominent in San Diego in '91 with Heroin (the band), reaches the Bay area in '92 (John Henry West, Honeywell, etc) and then hits Philly, NY, Florida and rest of the East coast. This is similar to the whole punk v hardcore punk- this type of emo is faster, much more intense and single minded. Bands played extremely fast to introduce the chaos concept of hardcore. Vocals were screamed through entire sets, and guitars distorted to points where notes and chords were hard to recognize. Most guitarists loved feedback and single notes, with staccato bursts of noise. Bass even had distortion. Songs were even hard to recognize at shows, thats how over the top this was. Shows were also very short due to endurance of the band. Everything about emo economics, shows, records etc. apply to hardcore emo, too. This is just a subset of emo, and quite possibly the ultimate expression of the form.
Hardcore Emo bands : Heroin, Antioch Arrow, Reach Out, Swing Kids, Guyver-1, Merel
Post-Emo Indie Rock : Begins in Seattle and Colorado, then explodes in the Midwest then onto NY. The early term for this was 'Midwest Emo' because these bands came out of nowhere from towns in Kansas, Colorado and the such. Post-Emo Indie Rock is very soft, from vocals to music. Very little screaming was done, if any. Lots of poppy, catchy guitar riffs that vibrated with a happy or melancholy feel, and contained offkey pretty boy vocals. Lots of major key arpeggios with very light drumming was popular with Post-Emo Indie Rock. This was said to be 'what emo kids listen to when they make love.' Every once in a while, there's the ocassional octave chord, and vocals from Post-Emo Indie Rock had the valid element of emo music, which consists of drawn out phrases with very detailed, emotionally-charged lyrics with ironically light and poppy singing. The band Sunny Day Real Estate came up with the original 'post-hardcore meets emocore at an indie rock show' type of sound. By 1999, this type of music had achieved a fan base much larger than any original emo. You are most likely familiar with this type of emo.
Post-Emo Indie Rock bands : Sunny Day Real Estate, Promise Ring, Mineral, Getup Kids, Jets To Brazil, Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc
Information provided by http://www.fourfa.com. Believe me, this site is very informational. Go to a local library or book store and find musical history books, specifically punk-subgenre literature and that will help you out as well. Visit http://www.fourfa.com for a more in-depth look, including more bands and a historical perspective on the music. Much thanks to Andy Radin.
'Emo,' Styles and Screams, Oh My!
Now, we're onto bands that are commonly percieved as being emo but, really, are nothing close to the genre. Many people believe that emo bands consist of sappy love/girlfriend lyrics, high vocals and screams with distorted riffs. Usually, that's not the case. Out of the mainstream 'emo' bands up on the waves today, Thursday is the closest you will ever come to experiencing real emo music unless you search for the mentioned bands above. Just because a pop-punk band adds screams to their music does not mean that they have magically changed genres. Granted, emo is a subgenre of punk rock, but pop-punk is also its own subgenre and screams alone won't change its entire makeup. Lyrics play a big role in any genre, but lackluster love songs about ex-lovers doesn't really show much for emo music, either. Many early emo bands didn't only sing about love, but also about politics, religion and even automobiles. There was a wide variety of topics, and while love has always been a central subject matter for music, it wasn't always love for emo.
Bands like Senses Fail, The Early November, AFI, Rufio, Dashboard Confessional, Bright Eyes, Story of the Year, Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, From Autumn to Ashes, Yellowcard, Brand New and the like are commonly referred to as emo bands, but usually the case is that they've got emotional lyrics and songs but the music doesn't match it. Brand New is an amazing band, many will agree, but their first album was a pop-punk album, and their latest release has a strong indie-rock sound. Story of the Year and Yellowcard are nothing more than pop-punk bands. Story of the Year adds screams, big deal; metal has screams but that doesn't mean the band is an emo band. I hope you can see where I'm going with this. Dashboard Confessional is pop-rock, nothing more and certainly nothing less. Chris's first two releases could be considered indie-rock but that's the extent. Death Cab for Cutie is an indie-rock band, along with The Postal Service and Bright Eyes. From Autumn to Ashes isn't close to emo or even screamo, which they're commonly referred to as. They're an alternative metal band.
Another misconception is that emotional lyrics make up an emo band. Isn't rap music emotional? Go listen to some Shakur and Bone Thugs; that's very emotional but they're not in emo bands. Emotional lyrics account for roughly 10% of the entire piece, you've got the musicianship and scene/style (of music) to account for, too.
Onto the styles: trucker hats, girl pants, shaggy (jet-black) hair, Saucony shoes and lip rings don't make up the style. That's what people refer to as 'fashioncore' and 'mallcore' styles. Ever seen pictures of Fugazi and Sunny Day Real Estate? I don't see jet-black hair or girl pants...but then you look at Senses Fail, Early November and Story of the Year and there are those elements.
With aforementioned bands having heavy rotation on MTV and the radio, the 'emo' scene has become a major demographic market (hence the 'emo style'). All of those bands have zero real connection to the original scene, and it's heartbreaking to see that.
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