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A Will Cleveland Pop-Ed: Your Emo Music Overview, Complete With a Uniting Love of Pizza

Some might say that I am music-obsessed. They might say that I listen to way too much music. Actually, who am I kidding? No one would say this, because no one would care. When we left off last week, I was giving my whole emo spiel and you were intently listening (or reading, as it seems that I am mixing metaphors and mediums). I am just going to assume that you (purely in the abstract sense) are a rapt audience.

With that in mind, I am going to offer my clearly biased suggestions. Consider this your emo overview. If you liked that Midwestern wave a decade or so back, if that nostalgia is itching in the back of your mind, you should find something to embrace in this new swell. Just remember that pizza will unite us all, not divide us.

Nai Harvest
My knowledge of the genre expanded exponentially when my German friend Christian sent me an old-school mixtape. Included on that awesome compilation were the stylings of Sheffield, England's Nai Harvest. Their simple song The Bikes & The Basement presents a pretty standard tale of relationships lost and questioned. "Did I leave anything behind? Like desperation, cold sweats, one last beer or cigarette?" These lyrics are uber-specific and heart-wrenchingly honest. This song comes from an earlier release, but I highly recommend their album Whatever, which was released in January. (As an aside, I love how under the band's interests on their Facebook page, it simply states: "not sharing pizza.")

Crash of Rhinos
From Bandcamp: "Biff, Oli, Draper, Beal, Jim. We make a racket. Five voices, two guitars, two basses and a drum kit." The boys from Derby, United Kingdom, present a simple formula and recipe for emo kickass-ness. The sound is somewhat math-y and angular, but the honesty and emotion always remain at the forefront. Their second album, Knots, was released over the summer, and it is sure to find its way to my year-end best-of list. Album-opener Luck Has A Name sets a wonderfully suitable tone for the remainder of the album.

Algernon Cadwallader
Under their band's description on Facebook, Philadelphia's Algernon Cadwallader offer up the following: "not much sex appeal." I admire honesty. That's partially why I really adore bands in this so-called emo vein. Besides sharing a genuine love of craft beer, pizza (a common thread among all these bands) and the Beatles, the three gentlemen in the band succinctly describe their music as sloppy, loud and fun. I highly recommend their 2008 album Some Kind of Cadwallader.

Pianos Become the Teeth
Perhaps the roughest and rawest of the bands presented on this list, Baltimore post-hardcore rockers Pianos Become the Teeth (which presents a really strange mental image) deliver music in the vein of Converge and At the Drive In. On their 2011 album The Lack Long After, especially I’ll Be Damned, they show us the hardcore background of the genre. It's all plaintively honest and raw.

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)
Still another band that lists pizza among its band interests, Michigan duo Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) is comprised of the "dynamic" Keith and Cathy Latinen. Like all of the bands on this list, Keith and Cathy are literate, smart and honest. Much of their best music is scattered amongst the huge series of split singles and EPs they have produced over the years. For a starting point, I recommend the "Middle Discography" on their Bandcamp page.

It was impossible for me to separate these two songs, so I decided to pick both. St. Louis quintet Foxing is my new favorite find of the year. (Hat tip again to Christian.) They don't list a love of pizza on their Facebook page, but I am going to assume that they love pizza as much as I do. Pizza is the great uniter (and yes, I made up that word). They do, however, describe their music as "post-prickly." Just this week, the boys from Foxing released their debut album, The Albatross. In a super-strong and diverse year for me, it is easily a candidate for my album of the year at this point.

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
Covered in depth last week, this eight-person (or as many as 10-member) juggernaut from Connecticut could be described as the new juggernaut of this so-called revival (even though we already covered last week that it is not a revival). On their debut Whenever, If Ever, TWIABP combines influences across just about every genre. That’s where the beauty of the music lies. (Aside: TWIABP lists "hot dogs" as a band interest. I also love hot dogs, but I love pizza more.)

Touché Amoré
Touché Amoré hails from Los Angeles. These five gentlemen most closely mirror the punk rock of yesteryear (and yes, I am quite ashamed for using such a gomer word like that). On Is Survived By, their third full-length which was released in September, the boys from Touche Amore deliver kickass, contemplative, introspective awesomeness. On album opener Just Exist, lead singer tells us that: "I was once asked how I'd like to remembered, and I simply smiled and said, 'I'd rather stay forever.' It was possibly my loudest cliché, but no better than just walking away."

Who do you suppose could eat more pizza: former NBA defensive standout Dikembe Mutombo or the four handsome men from Gainesville, Fla.-based band Dikembe? No clue. But inspired by the awesomeness of the former Georgetown standout, Florida's Dikembe offer straight-up emo-tinged goodness in the vein of many that came before. The music is muscular and hooky and the lyrics are honest (there's that buzzword again) and emotional.

A Will Cleveland Pop-Ed: Your Emo Music Overview, Complete With a Uniting Love of Pizza Reviewed by Will Cleveland on 11/14/2013 Rating: 5

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