"When The World Is Crashing Down..." |
by Michele Christopher
Music played while writing: A mix of the bands below and Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine
Okay, so maybe that's just me. I don't know if you like emo or not, but I sure as hell do. And while I'm proud of a lot of the emo I listen to, I own more than my fair share of embarrassing, dirty-secret emo. Dashboard Confessional? On my iPod. Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin? I'm not going to deny it. Mediocre, second or third tier bands like Alexisonfire and Aiden and Anberlin and Armor For Sleep? It's there, though in my defense they were all passing listens. Straylight Run? It had two of the original members of Taking Back Sunday. Of course I have it and, damn it, I like it.
But I don't apologize for any of it. Emo is music for anybody who loves to revel in their pain. Emo is for those who like to scream to their music while driving down the road. Emo is for those who don't want background music so much as burning, consuming songs that you can let sweep you away into a place as dark as the world around you sometimes seems, even if you know it's only because you're indulging whatever emotions are currently kicking your ass. And that's me. Sure, it can be self-indulgent and silly, but that doesn't hurt anyone else, so I don't sweat it.
Besides, I think there's a lot of emo out there that also qualifies as great music. Here are a few bands of that nature.
Thursday - If I remember right, this band was my first real taste of emo. My uncle, of all people, told me about this band. Not because he listened to them, but because the band was recommended to him by a friend. I picked up their album Full Collapse and was hooked. It was the first time I had really been able to get behind screaming in music, whereas before I had considered it nothing more than annoying. But this was different. The lead singer, Geoff Rickly, has a voice vaguely reminiscent of Robert Smith that's somehow able to turn screaming into something compelling and melodic--not just a base and guttural revelation of pain, but honest-to-god music, backed up by raging guitars and pounding drums. The songs are compelling, with strong themes and the album never lets down. The band never eases back and lets you catch your breath.
Full Collapse for me was driving down the road, lost in the music, screaming like a fucking maniac, pounding the steering wheel and ignoring the people giving me strange looks as they drove past, fast and certain, eager to put as much distance as possible between their car and mine. Queue up "Paris in Flames" or "Understanding in a Car Crash" or "How Long is the Night" or the brilliance of "Jet Black New Year," off their follow up EP, and tell me that's not worth your unbridled attention. Rickly does screaming right, which is much of the music's allure. It's loud and emotional, his voice always on the verge of breaking. It's perfect. It's emo as it should be.
I shut my eyes / When you're around / I hold my breath / To kill the sound / I'm falling down / I'm falling down / And you're not here / To catch my fall
Recommended listening: "Understanding In A Car Crash" and "War All The Time" at Purevolume
Taking Back Sunday - Thursday paved the way for Taking Back Sunday, whose first album, Tell
The truth is you could slit my throat / And with my one last gasping breath I'd / apologize for bleeding on your shirt
My Chemical Romance - I realize this is practically the official band of MySpace. I realize that they are somewhat ridiculous, with the large amounts of makeup, the ridiculous outfits, the overwrought obsession with death. Yes, they have an image that's cultivated to perfection, designed to appeal to every angst-ridden, death-obsessed teen and pre-teen out there. Perhaps I'm supposed to be crying and cutting myself while listening to MCR, but you know what? Fuck all that. These guys rock, plain and simple. Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is an amazing album, from start to finish, and it's one of those albums that I can listen to over and over and never grow tired of it. This is damn good music. The lyrics are fun and properly melodramatic, the mood dark and oppressive, and the sound is unique throughout. Even the names of the songs are great. If you can't get behind a song titled "It's Not a Fashion Statement, It's a Fucking Deathwish," then you're just not having fun.
If you've listened to the band and don't like the music, fair enough. If you've dismissed them out of hand because of their appearance or audience, then think again. Give Three Cheers a listen. It's damn compelling, I'd argue, and you may just find yourself agreeing.
Fun bit of emo trivia: the lead singer of Thursday, Geoff Rickly, produced My Chemical Romance's first album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love.
And we'll all dance alone to the tune of your death / We'll love again, we'll laugh again / And it's better off this way
Recommended listening: "Helena," "Welcome To The Black Parade," and "Thank You For The Venom" at
Brand New - This is utterly respectable emo. This band doesn't quite fit in with the above artists, but they do share similarities. The vocals are much more low key, kicking up into a heavily affected sound at the emotional heights of the songs, rather than maintaining the heavy emotion throughout. The songs build better and the underlying music is much more original than most other emo. Furthermore, there's a stronger maturity and emotional complexity within the lyrics, particularly in their album Deja Entendu, than you generally find in a lot of other emo music.
Like Three Cheers, this is another one of those albums I can listen to again and again, for months and years, and I never get sick of it. The music is somehow deeply satisfying, on a base and emotional level, to the point that I can't even explain it. In fact, this is one of my favorite albums to fall asleep to when I'm drunk. When drunk, this album satisfies me completely on an emotional and mental level, letting me fall unconscious with such a deep satisfaction that it's almost tempting to get drunk just so I can pass out to this album playing loud, dominating my mind. I don't why this is the case, but it is, and I consider it a high
I've never felt so hollow / I'm an old abandoned church / With broken pews and empty aisles