Monday, September 25, 2017

"Make Emo Great Again": Your unofficial guide to 80s and 90s american emocore. Part 1: Origins.

Note: Sorry, mate. The content of this entry isn't for you.

Coucou, les! We're back with the first part of our most recent special post. This entry will feature, in my humble opinion, the best emo records of the first wave known as Revolution Summer. As I previously announced you, the entries of this special post will be a little bit different because I'm trying to use a different format on the site. I hope this will work. Also, you'll notice that some bands don't quite fit into the emo subgenre, but the featured albums have been either a direct or indirect influence. Lastly, I don't have much time recently, so these entries will be short and wholesome (Ay, qué rico. Papppiiii!) Ehem, ok...Finally, click on the images for downloading the records. With all that written, let's begin!

Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade  2xLP!PoxXFB7T!9IhaEPVo4-e6d-6LFKV4vB7W409157kXn-7J5I67FEw

Though Rites Of Spring and other Revolution Summer-related hardcore punk bands are considered as the first emo bands, Hüsker Dü's third full-length album (SST Records, 1984) is probably the biggest influence on the subgenre. As you may know, this band is one of the first hardcore punk musical groups in the US and also had a huge impact on post-hardcore and melodic hardcore subgenres, as well as the whole alternative rock genre. Yup, I'm not kidding. So, why is this record here? Well, you'll find some of the elements that characterize the emo subgenre: abstract and introspective lyrics, slower yet aggressive hardcore punk traits, longer songs and complex instrumentation, among others. You'll also find in Zen Arcade the magic that made Hüsker Dü so special, unique and great. Sadly, their drummer, Grant Hart (R.I.P.), died two weeks ago after years of battling cancer. So, this entry is dedicated to him. Give it a try, you won't regret it. This band will also have its own entry in the near future. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Rites of Spring - End On End LP!f54E0ArZ!ikcOr_hMvCkc_dTxr9-m6fAreXW6BrCsH48YaW6nBjk

This marvelous LP was released in 1985 through Dischord Records, one of the first and most influential hardcore punk record labels in the US. Also, this disc is regarded by many as the first emo record ever released. Musically speaking, we find a more refined form of hardcore punk, closer to post-hardcore we must add, with less aggressive tunes and more introspective traits. However, the sound still has an amazing and immersive mystic force that will seduce any ear craving for frantic and fun music. You can search for the band's live performances on YouTube and you'll be mesmerized by Mr. Picciotto's intense acting. Pretty good stuff. And, I also recommend you their second and last 7" EP named All Through A Life (Dischord Records, 1987) that captures Rites Of Spring's essence but the LP is a little bit way better. Finally, this a 2001 remastered CD edition that contains both LP and EP. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Gray Matter - Food For Thought and Take It Back CD!m8wE1KYK!xDc4IUEZARG9we0xPqZKsJu7-J09n_VUw7fMDbTVqKU

Another outfit affiliated with the Revolution Summer movement and Dischord Records' musical family tree. Along with Rites Of Spring, Gray Matter was one of the first post-hardcore bands considered as the first emo outfits in the late-80s. As you can imagine, their sound is no different to those bands that belonged to this trend, but Gray Matter also added in some songs post punk and indie rock elements as well, making of them something a little bit different. In later recordings, they would be more akin to alternative rock. Finally, the band disbanded in 1986 and other emo and post-hardcore acts such as Severin, Three, Ignition, among others were born. They would eventually reunite in 1990 and later disband once again three years later. This CD (Dischord Records, 1990) reunites their two first records whose sound is closer to Revolution Summer style than subsequent recordings. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Beefeater - Plays For Lovers & House Burning Down!Ckh1QaQS!TJbTREOIgvpQNYbje-c2wM3s38xoBT4TAPbYEb8qwHw

Ah, I never thought I'd feature this band here. Beefeater was a short-lived project that existed between 1985 and 1986. This CD edition (1991, Dischord Records) compiles both Beefeater's LP albums released through Dischord Records: Plays For Lovers (1985) and House Burning Down (1987). Need A Job 12" (Olive Tree / Wetspots, 1986) is absent. Unlike other Revolution Summer-related bands, Beefeater added funk and metal influences into their repertory. When I first listened to this band, I never thought this would ever be considered post-hardcore or even an influence to emo subgenre. I still have my doubts but it certainly fits into this special post. So, you'll find fast-paced music with those interesting musical "toppings" and some lyrics that are both personal and political. Finally, last month his guitarist, Fred Smith (R.I.P.), was stabbed  to death. This entry will also be dedicated to him. I recommend you to give it a try, it's one of those cryptic acts that everyone should know. Enjoy!         

Embrace - self-titled LP!akxxgCIB!3hXaQWkf4IizedqJgEXoUUzElcq7wUZFkIFBIFwUiBg

Following Minor Threat's demise in 1983, two years later, Embrace was formed. It featured Ian Mackaye (vocals), Chris Bald (bass), Michael Hampton (guitar), and Ivor Hansen (drums). The latter 3 previously worked with Alec (Ian's younger brother) performing with The Faith, another impressive and well-known D.C. hardcore outfit of the time. Just like Rites Of Spring, Embrace embarked themselves in this territory of post-hardcore that would later be tagged as emo. In fact, you can see Minor Threat's last EP Salad Days as a blueprint of this trend and, of course, Mr. MacKaye would be as angry as always singing about his frustrations and other inner issues at the time without losing the hc/punk attitude. This LP is the only work that Embrace officially recorded and has had more than 10 reissues in the last 20 years with different LP, CD and digital versions. Absolutely nuts. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

One Last Wish - 1986 LP!us5URaKJ!dUHGxV1tafD3t3YOKdGLzubdo1hVsivMovZjDE-wkOs

One Last Wish was a short-lived project formed by Guy Picciotto (vocals and guitar, also Rites of Spring's ex-vocalist and main guitarist), Michael Hampton (guitar, also both Embrace and The Faith's ex-guitarist), Eddie Janney (bass, also Rites of Spring's ex-guitarist) and Brendan Canty (drums, also Rites of Spring's ex-drummer). This band didn't release any record during their lifespan. In fact, this disc was originally recorded in 1986 (duh!) but it wouldn't see the light until 1999 as a CD, thirteen years after the band's disolution. This record also marked the beginning of Dischord Record's trend of releasing posthumous material. Finally, after OLW disbanded in 1987, Mr. Picciotto would join forces with Mr. MacKaye for creating one of the most influential post-hardcore bands ever: Fugazi. This is the 2008 LP remastered edition. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Getting Shit For Growing Up Different: Mission Impossible / Lünch Meat split!WxZjHRhZ!VUnkXRM8jWI78uHjjS5IIWBZdHGdHeD2c6FKEhJ9_W0
This a split released by Dischord Records and Sammich Records (a short-lived record label co-owned by Ian MacKaye's younger sister, Amanda, and him) in 1985. It also was the only official release of both bands. Mission Impossible featured different local hardcore punks that previously worked with other projects, including Dave Grohl (yup, just after playing for Scream, a D.C. hardcore band, and before being Nirvana's most recognized drummer he was here) and only released one demo, the featured songs in this split and some compilation tracks. On the other hand, this is Lünch Meat's only official release (with some compilation tracks) and after the release of this record, they disbanded but later reunited one year later as Soul Side and made their own history. Regarding the sound, both bands played fast-paced post-hardcore like many of their Revolution Summer-counterparts but they weren't too "emotional" at all. In fact, I was really considering not including this record in here, but some of the tunes can be detected in further emo outfits too. So, well, they're here. Finally, get this split. It's one of those unknown hardcore jewels that you must know for sure. Highly recommended. Enjoy!.  

Dag Nasty - Can I Say and Wig Out At Denkos CD!etRHFRSD!RdXrzyVZ3624ZyfJhojbp1qVt3RiSth3y5BBhqqGirI

Things are getting more personal with this record. Remember when I told you that I'd make a special post for celebrating my 30th birthday? Well, it's supposed to be a collection of all the hardcore punk records that somehow have changed my life and Dag Nasty's Can I Say is one of them. So, this band featured ex-members of both Minor Threat (notably their guitarist, Brian Baker) and Bloody Mannequin Orchestra and after multiple changes of line-up, the "classic one" (Baker, guitar; Dave Smalley, vocals; Roger Marbury, bass; and Colin Sears, drums) released this majestic hardcore jewel. The sound is simply amazing: a good mix of both melodic hardcore and post-hardcore. Also, there are fast-paced songs and simple yet captivating guitar chords. But, in my humble opinion, the best feature of this record is undoubtedly the lyrics. Indeed, One To Two, Justification and Can I Say are simply all-time hardcore anthems whose content is something that I'm completely identified with. Their next record Wig Out At Denkos (Dischord Records, 1987) is also a must have. However, subsequent records are more within the realm of melodic hardcore and even pop punk, so their first two records are more accurate for the purposes of this special post. Click on the image for getting the CD edition (Dischord Records, 1991) that contains both records with some extras. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Three - Dark Days Coming!bgg0WIbZ!UYDLxaump-aaNgb8pCHr6-84k6_wIci1eAcWOtUj-qk

Three was a short-lived project that existed between 1986 and 1989. It also featured ex-members of Gray Matter and Jeff Nelson, Minor Threat's ex-drummer, co-owner and co-founder of Dischord Records. They only released this LP in 1989 and an enhanced CD version was released in 1997, through Dischord Records, with the band's demo included as bonus tracks. I found quite interesting the content of the record because there are fast-paced post-hardcore tracks and other ones less aggressives with more traditional rock influences. Even there are acoustic moments. On the other hand, the demo tracks are instrumental-only, and also quite interesting and unique because having this kind of songs on a hardcore punk record were pretty rare for the time. Finally, this is the CD version. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Ignition - Complete Services!rgB0kKDL!Yuyuot0kyjv1lBg9Mfy6BEayDvFn17vFhISfEGRj3v4

Ignition was a hardcore punk band from Washington D.C. and featured members of other local hardcore bands such as The Faith, Embrace, Iron Cross, Gray Matter and Untouchables. It also was one of the first D.C. hardcore bands that made an European Tour. You'll find here the distinctive late-80s D.C. post-hardcore vibe that's been featured so far. And, of course, this is the first official blueprint for the next wave of emo: complex guitar chords, longer songs and fast-paced/slow and introspective moments combination. Finally, I present you, this CD collection was released in 1994 through Dischord Records and contains almost everything that this D.C. hardcore band ever recorded: Machination LP, The Orafying Mysticle Of...LP, self-titled and Anger Means / Proven Hollow 7"s, 100th Show flexi disc and the track that appeared on State Of The Union compilation. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Fuel - Monuments To Excess!fsxH3JBI!7AG4TvzVvrihxjd1FvgFVQTZUw7MoAliQ2yMxJi7dM8

This is another underrated emo band that made history by their own but didn't receive the recognition that truly deserved. Despite their short existence, they released one demo cassette, one self-titled LP, one split with Phleg Camp and another with Angry Son, and Take Effect 7". Reagrding the sound, Fuel took the best elements of Revolution Summer-related bands (notably Rites of Spring and Embrace), as well as Fugazi's first recordings for creating their music. Indeed, you'll find complex and rich instrumentation with a pretty deep "emotional" content. I have to admit that the natural extension of late-80's D.C. emo and post-hardcore is fueled here (no pun intended). Finally, I'll give the CD version released in 1995 by Ebullition Records containing almost everything that this amazing band ever recorded. Highñy recommended. Enjoy!

Fugazi - 13 songs!ukYhyBoY!16S5DLKJsYILZaMsfzlzw6GICSq1AKy0BfsDO5WRRBU

Speaking of the devil, one of the best hardcore/punk bands ever is here. I know many people would be either surprised or mad at me because of Fugazi's inclusion here in this special post, but meh! I love watch the world burn down in flames mwahaha. Of course, I'm joking. But it's undeniable their influence on the whole emo subgenre. So, why they're here? Simple. This record is a collection composed by 7 songs 7" and Margin Walker EP and both records have Rites of Spring and Embrace trademark sound on it. You can say that they're their natural extensions. Either way, emo or not, Fugazi's works are simply fantastic. You can also check Repeater+3 songs compilation that follows the same musical trend. And, as you may know, subsequent records would be more experimental and pivotal for both post-hardcore and alternative rock genres as well. Finally, click on the image for downloading 13 songs. Pretty good stuff. This band will have its own entry in the near future. Promised. The faile contains both 13 songs and Repeater+3 songs as a bonus. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Fire Party - self-titled CD!K8JlQQxL!FkZAla1pBPDx6K14OcSQqtsiOyXpuJcqEvsPge81bmg

Fire Party was a short-lived all-female hardcore punk band. They only released one self-titled and New Orleans Opera, both released through Dischord Records, and also recorded one Peel Session and contributed one track to State Of The Union compilation. Unlike other Revolution Summer-related bands, Fire Party had a special and unmatched musical force. Yes, they followed the late-80s D.C. hardcore standard but added some personal and unique traits into their music that made them a little bit different. By this point, I'm sure that you have thought that this band sounds like Bikini Kill and other Riot Grrrl-related bands. But let's precise something: these bands owe their sound to this D.C. outfit. Mindblown, ha? Also, Fire Party coined the feminist ideology into the scene, encouraged by the Revolution Summer movement. Finally, this is the CD version that compiles everything of this underrated band, higly influential for emo, post-hardcore and riot grrrl bands. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Soul Side - Soon Come Happy!7lQQDSQA!x6MrdfiXY2bj3k6SzPY_RXYhyor4bK6c21wyCFoeVE4

Soul Side was a short-lived D.C.-based hardcore outfit that only existed between 1986 and 1991. Along with Fugazi, this band is probably one of the most influential of all these "deconstructive" hardcore punk musical groups. Their musical style is simply amazing: simple yet well-elaborated instrumentation, deep and abstract yet politically-charged lyrics and slow-paced and introspective interludes, key common elements for many emocore bands. Soul Side was also one of the first D.C. hardcore outfits that made an European Tour. In fact, during their stay in Eindhoven - Holland, they recorded Hot Bodi Gram (IMHO, their best work) and disbanded shortly after. Finally, this is the CD collection that compiles Soul Side's full-length albums: Trigger, Bass and Hot Bodi Gram. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Marginal Man - self-titled!LhISlYjZ!kYE8svO7YndbfjPIVSpcE-sFK0tMIrPpDB0AQuABKaE

Marginal Man was a D.C. hardcore band  that evolved from Artificial Peace, one of the first local hardcore punk. With the change of name, it also came a change in the sound. Indeed, Marginal Man was exploring more rock-oriented and slower sounds but still retained their local rabid punk attitude. With the release of this self-titled LP (Giant Records, 1988), this band would join their local counterparts in the development of Revolution Summer movement. Also, compared with their previous releases, this record is slower but still retains a magic that deserves to be remarked. Finally, get this record. Great stuff. Highly recommended. 
Rain - La Vache Qui Rit!j4QhybrS!f9huURetfRthqt9t9yJniSiwuasSIZLn-yW4CnEBX6k
Rain was a short-lived D.C. hardcore band that only released this interesting 12". This record was originally published by Peterbilt Records, Guy Piccioto's record label, and subsequent re-issues were made by Dischord Records. This is also probably the last original Revolution Summer band ever. Now, I chose this record because it contains the elements that made this movement quite special: emotionally-charged lyrics with simple yet captivating tunes. You'll also find fast-paced songs with some slow interludes but they're not as complex as some of their other Fugazi-influenced counterparts. It's quite charming this 12" I must say. Finally, this is the original release edition. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

The Hated - Every Song LP!3xpkzZbb!N7kISTs3T_5NMAO6oS2ECkei1v43wZA-O0M5bgfAd8E

The Hated was a band from Annapolis, Maryland that also contributed to shape the original emo sound.  Unlike the D.C.-based bands we've reviewed so far, The Hated explored different musical influences and was something like an "anti-D.C. Hardcore band". Indeed, they ironically maintained a powerful post-hardcore sound with short, fast and precise tunes but added folk and country elements into their repertory. I've always thought that if Neil Young or Bob Dylan were hardcore punks, they would surely sound like this band. Finally, I chose this LP (Vermin Scum Records, 1989) because it captures the essence of this amazing band and it's also their biggest contribution to the emo subgenre. And, if someone of Vermin Scum Records is reading this, please, please release their complete discography. This fucked up world really needs it. Thanks. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Moss Icon - Complete Discography 2xLP!31RVWD4R!qDsRBHPyH_kWFzdIP9EMGD3oT0RIS7CkDBIkKYjxclg

When I was gathering the information and compiling the records for this special post, it came to mind the idea to only publish Rites of Spring and this band as the essential first wave emo records. Why? The aforementioned D.C. outfit started it but it was the sound of this Annapolis-based hardcore band the foundation of the whole emo subgenre. Moss Icon existed between 1986 and 1991 and released their material through both Vermin Scum Records and Ebullition Records. Unlike other Revolution Summer-related bands, this band managed a darker and pessimistic attitude and their sound had a more refined and complex musical instrumentation and execution (longer songs (still retaining the fast-paced/slow and introspective moments combination, though), overwhelming bass tunes, elaborated guitar chords, abstract lyrics (with both personal and political content) and both whispered words and high-pitched vocals (closer to screams)). Also, this band had more political consciousness because they remarked many ignored or not so debated topics within the american hardcore/punk scene such as indigenous people causes and U.S. government intervention in Central America at the time. Finally, this is their complete discography released in 2012 Temporary Residence Limited that contains everything that this amazing band ever recorded: Lyburnum Wits End Liberation Fly  (IMHO, their best work), It Disappears and split with Silver Bearing LPs, and self-titled, Mahpiua Luta, and Memorial 7"s. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Alive And Kicking compilation!Hhh0BCib!AG2FRczXGIzxmy6dosX3aWkJa8G7v83HAafZg7gTwXk
This is a compilation released in 1985 by WGNS Records, a short-lived D.C.-based record label, and features some american hardcore punk bands of the time such as United Mutation, Gray Matter, Beefeater, Mission Impossible, Cereal Killer and Marginal Man. Regarding the sound, most of them belong to the Revolution Summer movement, except for Cereal Killer and United Mutation. Just like many compilations previously featured here in the blog, this one contains some songs that aren't available on each's band official releases and it is pretty difficult to get a cheap and decent physical copy. Finally, get it. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

State Of The Union compilation


We finally conclude this entry with this mythic compilation released in 1989 by Dischord Records. Along with Flex Your Head, already featured here in the blog, this is another register of the D.C. hardcore punk scene in the 80s. But, as you can imagine, most of the featured bands are related to Revolution Summer movement, including some of them that sadly won't be featured here in this special post. Also, proceeds from the sales of this album went to the A.C.L.U (The American Civil Liberties Union, a non-profit and nonpartisan organization that has supported during many years same-sex marriage and the right of LGBT people to adopt, birth control and abortion rights, womyn, minorities, and LGBT people, the rights of prisoners and opposing torture, and opposing government preference for religion over non-religion) & The Community for Creative Non-Violence (an organization that helps homeless with food and shelter). The featured bands are: Scream, Ignition, Soul Side, Broken Siren, Christ On A Crutch, King Face, 3, Marginal Man, Rain, One Last Wish, Fugazi, Thorns, Fire Party, Fidelity Jones, Red Emma and Shudder To Think. Finally, this the LP version with the original artwork included with some writings of many people involved in the scene about different issuses such as capitalism, animal rights and feminism, among others. Worth reading. I hope you enjoyed this first part of this special post. Enjoy and until next time. Kisses and hugs!

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