From the selection below, you can tell that I grew up in the 90s. So be it. The 90s were an excellent time for experimentation in the punk and indie rock genres; it’s where the emo sound became solidified: belted vocals which range from aggressive to enigmatic, guitars parts brandishing dissonant counter-melodies, and big, climactic endings.
Below are my five favorite emo songs of the 1990s. Four and five are subject to change at any time. Haha!
5. We Work by Mock Orange (1998)
I know, this is the only band I picked with an obvious midwestern sound. I feel like Mock Orange captured dynamics and emotion that other midwestern bands (like the legendary Cap’n Jazz) just couldn’t grasp. Also, Mock Orange’s drummer blows my mind with uber odd-meters.
4. The Day’s Refrain by Texas is the Reason (1996)
These emo legends are named after the lyrics to a Misfits song. Texas is the Reason brought a hardcore touch to the emo genre. They’re aggressive but have a carefree attitude. The Day’s Refrain is one of their more dynamic songs. Notice the wonderful build-up at the end.
Note: there’s a joke amongst music fans that goes like this: “Texas is the reason emo kids suck.” I think it’s funny.
3. I’ll Catch You by The Get Up Kids (1999)
Damn. I picked an epic song for number four. This is the last song on the album Something to Write Home About. The Get Up Kids always seem to put the tear-jerker at the end of an album — a great formula which affects the emotions. That’s what emo really means: leave the listener emotionally changed.
2. Unfinished by Mineral (1998)
There really isn’t much information about Mineral out there. They broke up shortly after their second record. Singer, Chris Simpson, went on to form The Gloria Record (emo meets arena rock) and Zookeeper (experimental folk).
The layered, simple melodies and driving percussion in this song really excite me!
1. J’nuh by Sunny Day Real Estate (1995)
This song has been magic to me since the first time I heard it (2002, eight years after it was written). Complex rhythms paired with Jeremy Enigk’s voice is a religious experience for me. Enough said. Since 2009, there has been talk of a new album. Knowing SDRE, it might happen by 2019.