Post-Emo Indie Rock

Christie Front Drive - both LP/CDs [Caulfield Records] This is where the "midwest emo" thing started happening, before anyone knew that rockish, mellow, twinkly emo-influenced indie rock would take over everything. I remember a record review in the Ebullition zine calling Christie Front Drive music that hardcore kids would put on to make love. It was a nice change of pace for us. Nowadays, you have to search to know that there was ever anything else.

Boy's Life - Departures and Landfalls LP/CD [Crank! Records] This record really sums up the Midwest emo thing for me... mellow tunes drifting in and out, train whistles from miles away, lots of building up and easing back. Never harsh, but still with lots of intensity at the climax. God, I sound like a beer ad or something.

Boy's Life/Christie Front Drive split 10"/CD [Crank! Records]. Another one of those desert island records, captured both bands at their height with no filler. Thankfully re-released on CD after many years out of print.

The Promise Ring - 30 Degrees Everywhere LP/CD [Jade Tree Records]. Lo-fi and out of tune in the cutest devil-may-care way, full of warped pop anthems in the sweetest possible emo-influenced way. These guys all started out in hardcore bands I liked, and when this came out I thought this signified the end and ultimate selling-out of hardcore. Their later records were hi-fi and in tune, and that totally spoiled their uniqueness and made them a lame pop band. Get this and the "Horse Latitude" EP collection, avoid everything else.

Evergreen - 12" (the one from SoCal, not Louisville). Very rare. Churning, dynamic songs with the sweetest whispered vocals. Their 7"s are also worth tracking down.

Sunny Day Real Estate - "Diary" and the pink album LP/CDs [Sub-Pop]. Well, what to say? For a lot of people this is the end-all and be-all of emo. It sounded like Smashing Pumpkins alterna-rock to my hardcore purist ears when it came out, with its slick expensive production and mega-compressed sound. Now I hear it as a fascinating mix of post-hardcore guitars with emo-inflected vocals and superbly busy drumming, although Jeremy Enigk's lyrical conceit almost spoils the whole thing. Avoid the third and later records, as they slipped into complete alterna-rock. Still, "Diary" is a great record for rescuing people from commercial rock.

Elliott - U.S. Songs LP/CD [Revelation]. One of the better Sunny Day Real Estate clones (there are millions).

Mineral - "The Power of Failing" LP/CD [Crank!] Another SDRE clone, but one of the more energetic and captivating ones. The rough production on this record grinds on my ears a bit. The second record is very nice to listen to, but lost the energy that made them so cool.

"Don't Forget To Breathe" compilation LP/CD [Crank!] Great sampler of this style, not many duds unlike practically every other comp in history.

I suppose I should put in an honorable mention for the Get Up Kids. I never liked them, and thought they were completely unoriginal, but their stuff seems to have staying power and a popularity that perplexes me. Certainly they put on a great live show.

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