Though it has been posited that an emo revival has been occurring for the past eight years, there still remain to be many worthwhile releases from years prior. As the title of this piece indicates, I want to bring to the forefront some notable releases that I believe have been obscured in some way or another. Share your thoughts in the comments section on all things emo.
1. Stutterfly – And We Are Bled of Color (Maverick Records, 2005)
The fact that Stutterfly metamorphosed into Secret & Whisper might surprise some. Sure, Secret & Whisper have often been compared to emo / post-hardcore bands like Saosin or Circa Survive, but Stutterfly worked with a palette of darker colors. Right down to the lyrics, you have songs dealing with suicide (“Gun in Hand”), abortion (“Silent Scream”), and longing for the past (“The Sun Bleeds Red”). Combining elements of emo, post-hardcore, metal, and even orchestral, And We Are Bled of Color is a massive sounding record.
2. The Apprentice – The Epic Struggle (Future Destination Records, 2004)
A couple of years ago, I received an iTunes card as a birthday gift and found myself deliberating (for me, that means taking more than ten minutes to spend). For whatever reason, The Apprentice came to mind. I had seen them on the TV show Most Requested years ago – didn’t even like what I had heard – thought I might like it now, and the rest is history. This is some of the best emo acoustic music I have come across, and I’m willing to wager that it surpasses any Dashboard Confessional album. Even when Eric DeLong doesn’t quite hit the right notes (especially on “Grace for the Pitiful”), try not getting these songs stuck in your head. The sincerity of The Epic Struggle is what makes it such a memorable album.
3. Forever Changed – The Need to Feel Alive (Floodgate Records, 2005)
It’s a shame that a band with this level of musicianship weren’t more recognized during their career (or after). The Need to Feel Alive satisfies that craving for thoughtful emo / indie rock, and is comparable to bands like Number One Gun and Slow Coming Day. I remember calling Forever Changed the C. S. Lewis of rock, or something to that extent, a few years ago. Since then, I’ve read more C. S. Lewis (and books in general), but I think the statement still stands. With lyrics focusing on topics of loneliness (“The Need to Feel Alive,” “Romance in Denial,” “Alone”), love (“Something More”), and even church politics (“Identical”), this record is sure to pique the curiosity of deep thinkers.
4. stillquietsilence – demo 2003 (Indie)
stillquietsilence was one of those bands that ended before they started. The group had potential, as guitarist Jay DiNitto previously played in Life in Your Way, and vocalist Rachel Merchand continued her music career afterward, releasing The Ashling. The demo was produced by Chris Mizzone from Element 101 and “Achilles’ Heel” is so good that it’s included on here twice (re-named as “Veiled Angel (reprise),” which is a piano version of the song). If you prefer emo that’s on the more experimental side, I recommend giving it a listen.
5. Farewell to Fashion – You Couldn’t Possibly (Future Destination Records, 2002)
Sometimes bad things turn into good things, and other times, okay things turn into great things (along with other variables, but I don’t wish to belabor). I happen to think that Farewell to Fashion falls into the latter category. This is a pretty generic emo meets post-hardcore album. Angsty lyrics? Check. Loud guitars that digital compression doesn’t stand a chance against? Check. Nasally – but not like Bob Dylan – singing? Also check. Ryan Dunson (founder of Rookie of the Year) sang and played guitar on this album, and while his performance here is adequate, his R.O.T.Y. material is truly great. That being said, songs like “Broken Wings For the Masses,” “One Last Time,” and “Van Story Hills” are worth a listen, and if anything, this was a kind of blueprint for Rookie of the Year.