Conflicting opinions about origins of emo music

Music available in the world today is as diverse as the population itself.

No one likes to be boxed or categorised and I am not going to do that now either.

Although not all emo boys and girls listen to emo music and emo music is not only for emos, there are a few bands more closely followed by them.

Below a small summary found on the internet of some music and bands associated with early emo.

Nowadays you have the situation that a lot of kids listen to third- and fourth-generation emo styles without even knowing it.

Phase one: "emocore"

Phase two: "emo" Moss Icon, the Hated, Silver Bearings, Native Nod, Merel, Hoover, Current, Indian Summer, Evergreen, Navio Forge, Still Life, Shotmaker, Policy of Three, Clikatat Ikatowi, Maximillian Colby, Sleepytime Trio, Noneleftstanding, Embassy, Ordination of Aaron, Floodgate, Four Hundred Years, Frail, Lincoln, Julia, Shroomunion, some early Unwound, etc.

-Started in the DC area in 1987/88 with bands inspired by that area's post-hardcore acceptance of new, diverse sounds within the punk scene.

-Musically there's a lot dynamics between ultra-soft / whispered vocals / twinkly guitar bits and full-bore crashing / twin Gibson SG guitar roaring / screaming vocals.

-The vocal style is usually much more intense than emocore, ranging from normal singing in the quiet parts to a kind of pleading howl to gut-wrenching screams to actual sobbing and crying.

-Lyrics tend toward somewhat abstract poetry, and are usually low in the mix and hard to decipher. Another trait of really emo records is to have no information whatsoever about song titles.

-Artwork, too, tends toward abstract black-and-white photographs of rusted/broken things (especially machinery), drawings of flowers, and pictures of old men, little boys, and little girls.

-Live emo bands tend to play with backs to the audience during the quiet parts. During the loud exploding parts, the musicans have a tendancy to jump and shake unpredicatable and knock things over - especially mike stands.

-There is a particular emo dance sometimes seen in the audience at emo shows. It's known as "the emo tremble." The trembler clasps his/her hands together (wringing them from time to time), leans forward, bounces quickly on the balls of the feet, and shakes the upper torso in time to the music.

-Commercialism is very much repressed in this emo scene. Few bands make t-shirts. Most records are put out on very small, home-run labels or on the band's private label.

-There is also a bias against digital technology within most bands. Emo recordings tend to be analog only, cheaply done, with a tendency toward mostly live tracking with few overdubs.

-Lastly, emo bands tend not to last long. It was not uncommon an emo band's only recording to come out posthumously and much delayed.

These are what Andy considers to be the essential early records that define what this genre "emo" is about.

Embrace self-titled LP/CD 1985


New Embrace: A 5 piece band from Leeds, England - Also filed under indie - emo

Rites of Spring - "End on End" LP/CD 1985

Dag Nasty - Can I Say LP/CD 1985

Fugazi - self-titled 12" EP, "Margin Walker" 12" EP / "13 Songs" CD

Fuel 7" and LP, or discography CD
Jawbreaker - Unfun and Bivouac LP/CDs.
Samiam - untitled LP/CD 1990

By Andy Radin
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