Note: "If life is so fair, why do roses have thorns?" Tickle Me Emo, 2006. Deepest sentence ever. EVER.
Coucou, les chaton.ne.s! We're back with the second part of our 80s and 90s american emo special post. This entry about "straight emo" subset will be divided in two parts. Also, I'll try to finish for good this special post before October ends because I'll start with another one about 80s swedish hardcore punk compilations, which will also be the last special post of the year. Lastly, I don't have much time recently since "real world affaires" are consuming me and that's why I'll try to be brief as possible. With all that said, let's begin.
Native Nod - Today Puberty, Tomorrow The World discography CD
Gern Blandsten Records (a record label owned by Rorschach's singer, Charles Maggio) released Native Nod's complete discography CD in 1995. This short-lived yet highly influential emo outfit from New Jersey state released three 7"s self-titled, Bread, and New Compositions And Arrangements For The Zither and contributed some tracks to different compilations such as Fear Of Smell and God's Chosen People. Regarding the sound, just like their emo counterparts, Native Nod played fast-paced music with slow and introspective interludes, adding the trademark "emo octave" sound as well as some complex and elaborated distortion to their repertory. We could say that their first two 7" records are not only their best works ever released but also two solid foundations for the whole emo subgenre. On the other hand, in this compilation you'll also find different emo jewels such as Tangled and Bread tracks that simply touch the hidden fibers of your heart with their unmatched deep and intense lyrics. Lastly, this CD also features some later recordings that are not as good as their early material though. And, as a curious fact, the front cover of this discography features Nuestra Señora de Colombia painting (Botero Paintings, 1994) made by colombian artist Fernando Botero. Interesting yet rare choice for an american hardcore punk record. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
Hoover - Lurid Traversal Of Route 7 LP and self-titled 12"
Hoover was another short-lived yet influential D.C. hardcore outfit that existed between 1992 and 1994. The name comes from the famous US manufacturer of appliances, especially vacuum cleaners. Along with their split with Lincoln, this LP (Dischord Records, 1994) marks the beginning of the emo subgenre as such. Indeed, you'll find here the perfect blend of both Fugazi and Moss Icon's school with deep, abstract and emotionally-charged music. Thus, the musical instrumentation and execution is simply fantastic i.e. Cut Like Drugs track is by far one of the best emo songs ever written with its iconic and mesmerizing tuning. I dare to say that not even the brief emo revival movement in the 00s could ever surpass Hoover's magic. On the other hand, this LP contains their entire discography until 1994. Lastly, Hoover briefly reunited in 1998 and released through Slowdime Records a self-titled 12", which is pretty good too. And, for celebrating the tenth anniversary of their last reunion, the band made their final reunion ever in 2008 with some live performances in North America and Europe. The file contains both records. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
Lincoln - Union, Sugarloaf/Waterboy and split with Hoover
Oversight - After This Day... EP
Speaking of "chuggy emo", this band could be the first one in their type. This Syracuse-based outfit only released this amazing yet underrated EP through Conquer The World Records in 1992. Regarding the sound, this band mixed perfectly the emerging metallic hardcore of the time with emo sensibilities (moshy parts and stuff included). After the release of this EP, the band formed Framework, following the same musical path (well, kind of). Lastly, give it a try. It's probably passed inaperçu but it is such a great record. And the lyrics are pretty well-written too. I'm pretty sure that, along with Framework, Oversight was highly influential for belgian bands such as Blindfold and Shortsight. Pretty good stuff. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
The Nation Of Ulysses - Plays Pretty For Baby LP
The Nation Of Ulysses (from now NOU) was an experimental post-hardcore band from D.C. with a prolific discography but, for the purposes of this special post, we'll only feature their second LP (Dischord Records, 1992). Like Fugazi, NOU tried to break down the limited schemes (both musically and aesthetically) within their local hardcore punk scene. Indeed, they had an interesting mix of hardcore punk, avant garde, jazz, lo-fi and noise. In fact, it's one of those remarkable exceptions within the hardcore punk niche. Also, the band had a highly-political agenda with a particular dress code (all the members weared suits) and presented themselves like a radical left-wing political party instead of a rock band, playing with that rhetoric on stage and out of it. Do you know where did Refused took inspiration for their "new shape of punk" quest? Yup, you're right. This band was their oracle. Lastly, their prolific material is something to keep an eye on but this LP is a huge influence for the emo subgenre. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
Still Life - From Angry Heads With Skyward Eyes LP and Slow Children At Play And Beyond CD
This is the first full-length album of this amazing emocore band from Moorpark, California. During their early years, it also featured members of Strife, also one of the most influential hardcore punk bands of the time. I chose these two records because I think they capture this band's true essence. In early recordings, Still Life's style was more heavier and "moshy" and, just like their other contemporary emo counterparts, they would develop a more intense style with longer songs, screamed vocals, overwhelming and obscure basslines and a quite fantastic use of palm-mute guitars. The lyrics were both personal and political with abstract and well-elaborated statements. And, as a curious fact, From Angry...LP was rejected by Maximum Rock 'N Roll zine and didn't want to review it because it "wasn't punk enough". Ah, Mr. Yohannan, you were so naïf sometimes...Lastly, you'll find in the file From Angry...LP and a compilation CD that reunites their first 7", their first and only 8" and split track with Evergreen. You can also check their other records out, i.e. their split with Cerberus Shoal that contains their song Looks Like Tomorrow, the best acoustic emo song ever written. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
Constantine Sankathi - Discography CD
This CD was released in 1998 by Council Records and compiles everything that Constatine Sankathi ever recorded during their short lifespan: Who Killed The Killed Kid 7", Baby Unicorn 7", split with Bev.Clone and The 26th compilation (with Bev.Clone, Nema, Wallside and Mainspring). You'll find in Constantine Sankathi all the characteristic elements of 90s emo: epic and intense long songs, screamed vocals, abstract lyrics, crescendos, minimalistic artwork and "emo writings". And also added occasional trumpet tunes simulating a "jazzy" feeling. Despite their not so well-known existence, this band was highly influential for the emo subgenre. You can even find traces of their sound in different 00s emo revival acts such as City of Caterpillar and The Pine. Pretty good stuff. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
Current - Discography CD
Another marvelous discography disc released in 1998 by Council Records. Current was a short-lived yet prolific hardcore punk band that also toured the US twice, probably the only emo band of the time doing so. Their Coliseum LP (Council Records, 1993) is by far one of the best emo records ever released: it's passionate, full of rage, with emotionally-charged lyrics and a top-notch musical execution, taking the best elements of the first wave emo (Rites of Spring or Moss Icon) to the next level. Also, the characteristic change between slow and fast-paced moments in the emo subgenre is perfectly done here. Lastly, the CD compiles the aforementioned LP, their 2 7''s (Could I and Is 4) and splits with Chino Horde and Indian Summer and different compilation tracks. This is definitely a must have. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
Policy Of 3 - An Anthology 2xCD
One of my favorite american emo/hardcore bands of all time is finally here. Policy Of 3 (from now PO3) was a hardcore punk outfit from New Jersey and took their name from he ideas of a group of three farmers from China during the late 1930s who, through various nonviolent means, espoused increased power for peasants and independence from the wealthy landowning class. During their short-lived yet prolific existence, they released one self-titled, Dead Dog Summer LP and American Woodworking LP (their best work ever IMHO) and contributed tracks to many different compilations. Regarding the sound, PO3 managed perfectly the slow/fast tempos changes and crescendos of the emo subgenre with both political and personal lyrics. In fact, they were vegan straight edge and their political agenda made of them one of the most active hardcore punk bands of the era. This compilation was released in 2005 by Ebullition Records and contains everything that this band ever recorded plus a live performance in Dresden, Germany as bonus tracks. The song featured in Superpowers compilation, when they started the band as Matter Of Fact, is absent. Remember that this record was already featured here in the blog, so check it out. Lastly, I was told that an LP edition exists, but I'm not so sure about it. If you have enjoyed so far emo acts such as Moss Icon, Hoover and Still Life, PO3 is definitely for you. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
Julia - Complete Collection
We finish this entry with another favorite of mine in this world of emocore. Julia was an emo/hardcore band from San Diego that existed between 1993 and 1998. Unlike their other local chaotic emo counterparts, Julia was more faithful to the straight emo subset. Nonetheless, this band also managed a frantic display of energy and intensity. It was so emotionally enough for making you cry thanks to their epic length songs, abstract lyrics and constant changing crescendos. No joking. Lastly, this file compiles everything that Julia ever recorded (self-titled 7" and LP, Kathy 7" (and its remaster), ...At The Window Of Vulnerability 7", track from the split with Sunshine and compilation tracks). Note that the live version of their last song ever, featured in the split with Sunshine, will make drown in tears a cynical, insensitive and cruel beast like me, for example. Ha ha ha. Don't complain if I didn't warn you. I do hope to see in the near future an official discography compilation of this band. It's worth it. Highly recommended. Enjoy and until next time. Kisses and hugs!