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The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

Seven Emo albums To Wallow In

Tigers Jaw – Tigers Jaw

Tigers Jaw | tigers jaw
Photo Credits: Prison Jazz Records

Starting this list of seven albums off with my favorite of the bunch, Tigers Jaw self-titled is a dynamic and powerful album. In my opinion this record’s strongest quality is its vocals from Adam Mcllwee which convey such passion and heartbreak. The whole band contributes their parts and thanks to their talent for songwriting each song has some melody that will stick with you. Constant driving drums keep this album going and the noisy guitars are enough to get lost in. The song “I Saw Water” showcases the strengths of Mcllwee’s singing by letting him drive most of the song. Even if lyrically they aren’t the most complex he sells everything to you with his vocals. He sings his heart out on almost every track but sometimes the music speaks for itself. On the track “Chemicals,” there are minimal vocals that allow for the band’s musicianship to speak for itself. The feeling of hearing those guitars wash over you for the first time is one I can still remember. Tigers Jaw doesn’t overstay their welcome on this album and leave you with an incredibly powerful and melancholic record.


The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up – It’s Winter Here

It's Winter Here | The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up
Photo Credits: Absolutely Kosher Records

Post-Rock is a genre I enjoy but don’t always love, however, whenever this genre is combined with Emo, it makes for truly amazing albums in each genre. This approach plays greatly into the strengths of It’s Winter Here. This allows for tracks like “Before I left, After I Got Back,” which is one of the few tracks I find to be on the same level as Strictly Ballroom’s “A Sudden Interest in Nature.” Lyrically this album feels different than a lot of emo. It digs into the singer’s struggle with poverty and their queer identity. This is tied up perfectly with the heartbreak and desperation that makes this record feel uniquely earnest. Musically it’s a marvel, the vocals are passionate like always but they feel more defeated. The first track that initially sold me on this album was “Breakdown Championship,” it builds intensity up until the second chorus where the vocalist lets out all his frustration and sings, 


“And often when I’m sitting in my room

I stare at my poster of Prince,

And sometimes I think of you

And I spit when I do.

I hate that piece of me it looks too much like you”

This final breakdown of this track is the emotional climax of this album and you can feel his anger and sadness. It’s Winter Here masterfully utilizes dynamic contrasts to give each of their tracks weight and to allow for the listener to ease in and out of the music.


Sunny Day Real Estate – How It Feels To Be Something On

How It Feels to Be Something On
Photo Credits: Sub Pop

If you ask most people what they think of when they hear Sunny Day Real Estate, they will think of Diary. However, I’d argue that How It Feels To Be Something On is the album they should be remembered for. This album feels distinct in their catalog, and truly feels as if they mastered their sound. Jeremy Enigk is one of the few emo vocalists who are actually very talented singers and this album is him at his very best. From the very beginning of this album it establishes a dark and brooding atmosphere that the band perfectly cultivates. Enigk’s wistful singing is a primary feature on display here and when these songs reach their climaxes they are gratifying. The opening track “Pillars” shows their ability to create this moody sound that is filled with anger and excitement. Every time that last chorus on the song comes in I’m left with chills. Another track that elicits similar feelings is “The Prophet.” Mainly featuring tribal like hums until the very end where everything the track was building to is released. When Enigk finally starts singing the track takes a different feel and continues to drive forward. He relentlessly keeps the intensity up and the ending of this track is an incredibly cathartic experience every time. This album feels like a breath of fresh air and their incredible riffs never fail to win me over. 


Malon – Portraits of Dying

Portraits of Dying by Malon (Album, Screamo): Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music
Photo Credits: Malon

Malon’s only album released in their short time together is a true hidden gem. I do not hesitate to call this the best screamo album I’ve heard and for good reason. There is a balance between screaming and just singing that a lot of other screamo albums struggle to find. This record perfectly finds that balance and all the passages with extensive screaming feel so passionate. It feels like the vocalist is screaming with all of their heart which perfectly matches the explicit lyrics on here. While a lot of emo has melancholic lyrics, this record brings it to a new level. The descriptions of heartbreak on here are as visceral and raw as they come. This is all complemented perfectly by the sample choices, the guitar playing, and melodic compositions. They all combine to allow the vocals and lyrics to really shine through. This is best shown on the track, “An Osiria Rose,” which happens to be my favorite on the album. Starting out with just a sample of two people talking and a guitar, it ends in an explosion of emotion as they keep screaming the words, “And I’ll cry,” over and over again. This album is an emotional sucker punch and truly feels like listening to someone fall apart. 


Pegmap – See You

See You by Pegmap (Album, Midwest Emo): Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music
Photo Credits: Pegmap

Most emo albums don’t have the most technically gifted vocalists and this album is no exception. In fact I would say Pegmap’s vocalist has one of the worst voices I’ve heard in emo yet I always come back to this album. This band’s lush instrumentation and at times tropical feeling perfectly matches the album’s cover. The poor vocals match this atmosphere and the weight of every word sung is felt. His voice is constantly cracking or forced into a scream but it works in tandem with the high energy or more laid back songs. Since this album is in Japanese and not in English I’m not as fixated on the quality of the lyrics or the singing itself as it serves to just add to everything else the band sets up instrumentally. There are short post-rock sections across songs that fill the downtime and set up the singer as best they can. This album features punchy drums that compliments everything else that is happening musically. Every member of the band does their job to contribute to this album’s successes and once you can learn to love the vocals there is a lot to enjoy about this record.


Far Apart – Hazel

Hazel | Far Apart | Found Footage Records
Photo Credits: Found Footage Records

This short but sweet EP released in the 90s was the only notable release by this short lived band. Despite only being three tracks long these songs leave quite the impact on the listener. The standout song on here is, “Hazel,” however the other two tracks can stand on their own just fine. This EP heavily features noisy guitars that bury the singer’s voice. They know when to let their voices shine by creating powerful choruses that overpower all of the noise. The high point of these songs has to be the ending of “Hazel,” when the chorus is repeated with the guitars perfectly matching the intensity of the vocals. In their short time together as a band they managed to perfect this style of emo which this EP displays. 


The Lazarus Plot – The Lazarus Plot

The Lazarus Plot by The Lazarus Plot (Album, Emo): Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music
Photo Credits: Lance Harbor Records

Belonging to the late 90s wave of emo bands fronted by women, The Lazarus Plot’s Self Titled album is my favorite to come from this era. This record has incredibly tight drumming and twangy riffs. In just a moment’s notice the vocals can go from a quiet whisper to an explosion of anger and melancholy. There is a certain lo-fi aspect of this album that adds to its charm, they made what they could given what they had. The opening track “Friday The Thirteenth,” is my favorite track and sets the tone for this short album. Quiet guitars and wistful vocals make the second half of this song more impactful. When the drums come in and the vocals get more aggressive up until the song’s final breakdown is one of my favorite moments across the record. Lyrically there are no punches pulled, each track is blunt in its heartbreak with a slightly different perspective on it. Laura Laurent’s singing on this album is dynamic and most tracks tend to end in an explosion of anger led by her and the crescendoing guitars. This album feels much more anecdotal and personal which for me, makes it an essential emo album.

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