Welcome back, everyone, for this month’s edition of What’s Up Punks. We’ve decided to slim down the lists to 5 albums and 10 tracks, with a rare exception here or there (there is one this month), and have expanded our “range” a bit to include some post-punk this time around.…
The late 90s and early 00s saw the rise of a little label called Vagrant that churned out band after band and release after release of tuneful, essentially, power pop that took elements of emo, punk, and guitar-driven pop, mixing them together in a way that proved irresistible to many a sensitive punk who wanted something else to latch onto. Somewhere in the territory between “easycore” and Get Up Kids-style emo, the label launched careers for bands who arguably deserved a little longer in the spotlight than they received. By the time a second wave of soundalike bands emerged, the public’s appetite for such had largely subsided or moved on as did a number of the progenitors of it.
It’s been five long years; five long years since Converge, the forefathers of emo leaning metalcore, have released music. That all changed last week, however, as the band put out a 7″ with not one, but two brand new tracks. They still remain slightly controversial, with some in the Heavy Blog camp dismissing them. Here at Grind My Tears, however, those tracks are nothing but pure gold and the exact music the band should release after a five year absence. It is for exactly that reason that those tracks will be explored in depth below, putting them under an intense microscope and examining their every detail.
Each month, we always seem to come to the same conclusion when it comes to our Editors’ Picks column: Friday release days open the floodgates and unleash a seemingly endless stream of quality new music. But while some of our Editors and Contributors sit down gleefully each week to dive into this newly stocked treasure trove, others find themselves drawing a blank at the end of the month due to the breakneck pace needed to keep up to date with what’s been released. Which brings us to this Heavy Blog PSA: a weekly roundup of new albums which pares down the the week’s releases to only our highest recommendations. Here you’ll find full album/single streams, pre-order links and, most importantly, a collection of albums that could very well earn a spot on your year end list. Enjoy!
I present to you Grind My Tears, the cleverly named screamo and post hardcore centric counterpart to our series Grind My Gears. Below you will find a slew of the most promising screamo acts and records that have caught my attention in the past year or two. The first featured spot on this segment belongs to probably one of my favorite releases of this year (so far), the split LP between modern screamo mainstays Ostraca and Fleshborn. Titled Faces of the Moving Year, the split works well to showcase both bands unique takes on screamo, highlighting the vast differences within screamo itself, as well as playing off the tension created between the drastic contrast of the two bands.
Jeremy Bolm and his band Touché Amoré have kept me good company lately as I’ve grappled with these questions under the red glow of cancer. Their album, Stage Four, detailing Bolm’s grieving process after his mother died of the same terrible illness afflicting my father-in-law, lives on a loop in my mind and heart now. The lyrics are honest, passionate and absolutely heartbreaking. Bolm’s incredibly vulnerable declarations of hurt, loneliness, regret and suffering are absolutely necessary and equally wonderful. I find myself comforted, listening in gentle communion, to a work of art that shares my grief brilliantly and empathetically.
We here at Heavy Blog are right there with you and to help ease your pain we offer you this playlist of screamo smash hits to help you really wallow in the loneliness. So put on some headphones, buy yourself some vegan chocolates from your favorite local spot, and settle into the soul crushing loneliness of it all. God knows the rest of us will be, so enjoy it while you can.
17 years ago in Chicago, American Football’s released an album that would, for better or worse, dramatically change the face of emo. Instead of the shouting/screaming vocals they opted to gently sing theirs. There were no blast beats, no sudden crashes of chaotic feedback but instead gently arpeggiated guitar parts and a light dusting of trumpet. While their contemporaries – such as I Hate Myself – were sad, poetic kids who scared everybody, American Football were the kind of kids who had just enough charm to not seem douchey when whipping out their acoustic guitar at a party. Their music was gentle and had lyrics deeper than even Chicago’s deepest dish, and all of this culminated into one particular stellar debut record. However, that was 17 years ago, and while American Football may have returned on a live stage to a large amount of fanfare by the critics who made them legends and fans who adore them, it is questionable how well they have stood the test of time.
What exactly is Real Emo™? To put it simply, Real Emo™ was a movement started by a select few hardcore bands located in or around DC in the early 80’s and continued on through the late 80’s/early 90’s. Around this time is when bands on the West Coast adopted the more experimental, melodic approach to hardcore punk music and began to lay many of the foundations for what would eventually become screamo. The music is often stylistically similar to early hardcore acts such as Minor Threat or The Bad Brains in that it is fast and passionate, but differs in the sense that the lyrics tend to be a bit more introspective and the overall sound far more melodic. With bands like Nation Of Ulysses and Moss Icon further experimentation became increasingly popular as well, adding many “spacier” elements as well as incorporating a bit of spoken word. Nation Of Ulysses even had a saxophone occasionally, something that later bands like Native Nod couldn’t help but pick up. And, interestingly enough, not a single had any “twinkly” guitar parts.
When many people hear screamo nowadays, their minds tend to jump almost immediately to the Warped Tour sensation bands such as Black Veil Brides. It is a term often abused by metal fans to describe simply anything technically in the realm of “heavy” music that they deem unsuitable to be called metal or hardcore; a derogatory term that is an easy way to say “I don’t like it.” However, this broad, negative view of screamo could not possibly be more wrong, as it is a subgenre within extreme music that many could easily respect. It is the most abrasive, raw, emotional punk out there, yet still melodic at many points, drawing from the post-hardcore/emo sound pioneered just a few years earlier by such acts as Indian Summer, Heroin and Rites of Spring. Sadly, however, after a quick surge in popularity around the time of its inception, screamo took a slight fall from grace within the extreme music community, making it more and more difficult to find new bands that were still popping up in abundance.