TDP Music News: The Emo Revival

emo revivalRecently, throughout the music scene and especially in the indie rock neighborhood, there has been a lot of buzz about the apparent revival of a seemingly forgotten genre of the 90s and early 2000s, emo. Emo, a musical style praised by some and condemned by others, has been brought back from the dead by new artists and labels who are ready to express their revived affection for the popular subgenre.

Many trace emo’s origins back to the 1980s as a divergent movement of the Washington D.C. hardcore punk scene, best exemplified by the bands Rites of Spring and Embrace (both of which had members that would eventually be part of the post hard-core band Fugazi). From there, emo rock, characterized by its compositional complexity and often confessional lyrics, expanded throughout much of the 90s as a result of alternative music’s introduction into the mainstream, becoming especially prevalent in the Midwest. Throughout its expansion, bands adopted these newfound stylistic complexities and lyrical honesty, combining it with influences of pop and indie and various other offshoots of punk. The result of this outgrowth came in the form of various local bands and independent record labels, such as Drive-Thru Records, that expressed their ceaseless love for the genre in the form of relatively successful, independently-released records. What became known as “classic emo” became best exemplified by mid-90s bands that received attention for their unique musicianship such as bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Jawbreaker. Though, it was not until the early 2000s that emo truly broke into the mainstream with emo-influenced acts like Jimmy Eat World, Fall Out Boy, and My Chemical Romance selling what would become platinum records. As emo music developed, so did its subculture. “Emo” fashion faced various stereotypes, being over generally characterized by black clothing, studded belts, band t-shirts as well as thin straight hair that was sometimes dyed. As these stereotypes developed and spread, the term “emo” also became associated with depression as well having an association with self-harm. And just as fast as it became popular, in the later 2000s, emo experienced a backlash as a result of this social stigma surrounding the genre and has been labeled as “self-destructive” by many.

More recently, the musical influences of emo seem to have taken to a second life of growing prosperity, surviving through relatively well-known bands that include Balance and Composure, Title Fight, and many others. The “open heart” lyrics and structural complexities of the genre have warped with the persistent influence of indie music and other punk subgenres to create an apparent ‘revival’ that many have welcomed with open arms. While these bands seem to have lost the reputation of early emo, they have taken all of its more reputable qualities and made something notable out of it all, which can undeniably be called a resurrection. Labels such as the Boston-based Topshelf Records have adopted bands with these influences, supporting these underground acts just as independent alternative labels did during the 90s.

While listeners now struggle to define artists as newly ‘emo’ or ‘indie’ or even part of the ‘revival,’ regardless, there is a plethora of contemporary bands that are taking the scene by storm with a sound that is uniquely enjoyable as it is wonderfully reminiscent. Bands have taken a piece of the past and run with it, creating a musical path that seems to have a energetic and hopeful future ahead of it.

For what bands you should check out during this ‘revival’ check out Stereogum.com’s “12 Bands to Know From The Emo Revival”: http://www.stereogum.com/1503252/

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