Monday, April 30, 2012

Various Artist – The Emo Diaries Chapter Three: The Moment Of Truth (1999)


1. Starmarket - Last Verse (3:13)
2. Planes Mistaken For Stars - The Past Two (4:38)
3. Penfold - Microchip (4:56)
4. The Saddest Girl Story - VW Keychain (2:56)
5. Cross My Heart - Hearing Things (3:18)
6. Sweep The Leg Johnny - New Buffalo (4:36)
7. Schema - Vanishing (3:12)
8. Ultramagg - One Thousand Directions (3:50)
9. Speedwell - Pacifique (4:55)
10. Psara - Christopher Columbo (4:34)
11. Biblical Proof Of UFO's - Cigar (2:45)
12. The Chase Theory - Pharaohs And Kings (4:02)
13. Epstein - The Right Hand Rule (4:04)
14. Last Days Of April - Nothing's Found (9:34)

Various Artist – The Emo Diaries Chapter Three: The Moment Of Truth (1999) 320kbps

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Various Artist – The Emo Diaries Chapter Two: A Million Miles Away (1998)


1. Pop Unknown - Writing It Down For You (4:27)
2. The Appleseed Cast - Max (4:15)
3. Seven Storey Mountain - Incomplete (4:43)
4. The Blacktop Cadence - Cold Night In Virginia (5:21)
5. Brandtson - Holly Park (5:31)
6. Shooters & Senders - Wrath (4:02)
7. Buford - After Dark (2:43)
8. The Jazz June - S.E.G. (4:08)
9. Plain - Life Without Ambition (3:18)
10. Magstatic - Somedays (3:49)
11. My Favorite Citizen - Kayla Learns To Dance (3:26)
12. Strike Force - Nova (4:22)
13. Miracle Of 86 - Teenage Unity Song (12:25)

Various Artist – The Emo Diaries Chapter Two: A Million Miles Away (1998) 320kbps

Various Artist – The Emo Diaries Chapter One: What's Mine Is Yours (1997)

A Compilation Series of Exclusive and Unreleased Music

"The most important compilation series for emotional / punk / hardcore music." - Enough
"A rich and utterly rewarding snapshot of this intense and personal musical style." - Scratch
"In the history of the compilation, there has never been a better one than this." - Fracture
"The best compilation series on this planet. Period." - Punk Rock Reviews

Since 1997, The Emo Diaries has has been Deep Elm's way of documenting an extraordinary and powerful style of music that possesses the ability to stir emotion like no other. This legendary CD series has introduced nearly 150 incredible bands including Jimmy Eat World, The Appleseed Cast, This Drama, Further Seems Forever (featuring Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional), Planes Mistaken For Stars, The Movielife, This Drama, Samiam and many more to fans wordwide. All songs are Exclusive and Unreleased making each chapter of The Emo Diaries a true compilation, not a sampler of previously released music. All bands were selected based on blind submissions of music (10,000+ submissions received) only the music matters, not who submits. We haven't intended to define the emo genre, but instead share with you the music that moves us and support these incredible's what we do.

Deep Elm Records

Stay in touch and enjoy!


1. Jimmy Eat World - Opener (4:59)
2. Camber - Sunday Brown & Green (3:25)
3. Race Car Riot - The Last In 4000 (4:17)
4. Lazycain - Stupid Maybe Still (3:01)
5. Pave The Rocket - Zone (4:06)
6. Samiam - Ordinary Life (4:31)
7. Rain Still Falls - Beginner Swimmer (2:37)
8. Jejune - Hialeah (4:28)
9. Triple Fast Action - I Want To Know (3:08)
10. Red Level - Turn It On (3:28)
11. Only Airplanes Count - Kings Do Not Have Watches (4:59)
12. Pohgoh - Friend X (5:16)

Various Artist – The Emo Diaries Chapter One: What's Mine Is Yours (1997) 320kbps

Jejune – R.I.P. (2000)

One of the best bands you just knew was too good to stay together. With much story telling about the band, Boston roots and brief re-incarnation/relocation to San Diego, it is all of no relevance… aside from this album. A testimony to their last studio effort (the first 5 tracks) and some other remixes and rarities from split singles comprises "R.I.P." Those unfamiliar with JeJune's previous efforts missed out on some of the sweetest shoe gazing pop songs with swirling melodies and lots of gooey "hoos" and "woos". Soft warm swirly pop that owes cues to Hum and My Bloody Valentine. This album gives a last look at a band those who were clued enough to embrace will definitely miss. One last breath, and then it fades. Sadly sweet – just like the music.

Big Wheel Rec

Jejune – R.I.P. (2000) 320kbps

password: thelastwordisrejoice

Friday, April 27, 2012

Jejune - Singles (1996-1999)

Garden Variety & Jejune
New Guitar Parts / Drive By Negly 7" (1996) 256 kbps

Jejune & Jimmy Eat World 
Jejune / Jimmy Eat World 7" (1997) 320kbps

Jejune & Lazycain
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side / Handsome Devil 7" (1999) 192kbps

Jejune & Dignity For All
Record City Afterworld / Transparency / Short Distance 7" (1999) VBR V2

password to all: thelastwordisrejoice

Jejune – This Afternoons Malady (1998)

If your idea of a good album includes these critera:
  • 55 minutes long
  • indie pop / emo / rock
  • Superchunk mixed with Christie Front Drive mixed with Rainer Maria
then you'll fall over yourself to acquire this one. Wow. This is slightly good. Jejune mix up some absolutely gorgeous, slow indie pop tunes with slightly more agressive tracks on "This Afternoons Malady" to produce an album that within a week or so I suspect will be amongst my favouritest ever. Opener "Morale Is Low" is a perfect example of what they are all about. Arabella and Joe harmonise beautifully over slow, jangly guitar pop to steal your heart, then in comes a huge chorus full of surging guitars to lift you up, up and away.

I have to admit that my favourite parts of the album are the lighter songs. Title track "This Afternoons Malady" is a total indie pop gem, as inoffensive and innocent as you like. Perfection. So I kinda get a little annoyed when the more rocking numbers are on, not that they are bad! Far from it, Jejune's emo rock efforts are far and away better than most others of the genre. It's just that the total dreaminess of the slow songs sends me to another place altogether. Not too sure about the occasional rock solo they chuck in either, seems a little out of place, but at least it's original! And who can argue with a lyric like: "I'll hold your hand because you rock"? Nobody.

Unequalable on the album is "Fixed On The One". Total sleepytime indie pop combines with defeatist sounding vocals from Arabella to have a funny effect on me. It all goes rock in the middle, but bare with it through the loud times till you get the prettiness back again. Two of the other best songs are the final tracks, "One Transmission" and "Same To You". The former is an epic exercise in taking the floaty Christie Front Drive sound and doing your own thing with it, the latter a little like one of those early Rainer Maria 4 track recordings.

Super cool dream-pop / rock for us kids with nothing better to do than think about stuff that has nothing to do with day to day 'real life'. Practically an hours worth (well, if you want 60 minutes programme "Fixed On The One" to play twice) of wussy rock genius. Awesome.

Andy Malcolm

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jejune – Junk (1997)

Jejune is the name of a band which formed in the mid-90s at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. The band has been commonly identified with the emo genre, particularly the late-90s "indie emo" scene. The three founding members, Arabella Harrison (Bass/Vocals), Joe Guevara (Guitar/Vocals) and Chris Vanacore (Drums), met while studying at the college. The band relocated to San Diego, California, in 1997.
Many of Jejune's songs fit the construct and sensibilities of the emotional hardcore genre (aka emo). Intimate verses of melodic, melancholic reflection ascend to choruses of extreme musical and emotional intensity (a comparative blitz of noise.) Among similar bands of the time, Jejune’s use of blended male/female vocals and pop sensibility helped to make them stand out.
The band’s earliest songs consisted of a more punk rock style, such as on their first single, "Drive by Negly". The band continued recording demos with the expectation of eventually recording their debut album, but ending up issuing a compilation of those demos as their first album, Junk, in 1997. A split single with Jimmy Eat World, including the song "Early Stars", was released in early 1998.
Later in 1998, the band released their second album, This Afternoon’s Malady, which marked a notable departure from the band's more indie rock leanings on their debut.
Over the span of their existence, the band undertook several tours of the US, including stints with The Get Up Kids, Blacktop Cadence, Piebald, and a late 1998 tour with Jimmy Eat World. In early 1999, the band added Mark Murino on second guitar in order to expand their live sound. Not long after, the band undertook a European tour with Kill Holiday.
Near the end of 1999, many of the bands in the "indie emo" scene of the time attempted to move away from the "emo" label. As a band, Jejune began experimenting with more pure-pop leanings, and prepared to record their third album. However, tensions in the band regarding the new direction led to the band's breakup in early 2000. Later that year, Big Wheel Recreation released a compilation called R.I.P., which consisted of the completed demos for the third album, tracks from released singles, and a handful of unreleased songs.
Following the breakup of the band, Guevara, Murino, and Vanacore founded Lovelight Shine. That group released on EP through Big Wheel Recreation, and a second, self-released EP before breaking up. Following that, Murino and Vanacore went on to form the group Dirty Sweet, while Guevara has been playing piano for blues artist Lady Dottie. Harrison joined The And/Ors following the breakup, and more recently, has embarked on a solo career, with Vanacore occasionally joining her on drums. She also plays as a member of the group Bartender’s Bible.
But, talk about "Junk":
Sure the uppity but mellow riffs are in full swing with the accompaniment of tag-team male/ female vocals — the later of being something to Jejune's advantage — but a lot of Junk overlaps into the category of bland alternative-rock. To at least give credit where it's due, Arabella's melancholy but soothing voice kills some of the monotony, giving some hope that Jejune will progress musically with their next few releases.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Gloria Record – A Lull In Traffic EP (2000)

The second effort from The Gloria Record and an amazing display of talent. Combining traits from the epic British pop sound (Radiohead) with contemporary American indie (Seam), TGR have found their groove. The music at the same time soothes and rocks, while Chris Simpson's vocals glide you through five songs of heavenly bliss.

crank! a record company

And don't you ever want to stand up on the waves and run?

password: thelastwordisrejoice

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Promise Ring / Texas Is The Reason 7" (1996)

Originally recorded to accompany a U.S. tour in 1996, Milwaukee's The Promise Ring team up with the New York City-based Texas Is The Reason for a split 7" that still goes up for serious loot on internet auction sites everywhere despite the fact that it never went out of print and is available right here. Fairly outlandish, for sure, but we can understand why. The Promise Ring offer a slightly out-of-character track called "E. Texas Ave" that packs more punch than pop, while Texas Is The Reason contribute a mournful number called "Blue Boy" — the final track they recorded before breaking up, still exclusive to this EP only.

The Promise Ring / Texas Is The Reason 7" (1996) 320kbps

Texas Is The Reason – Do You Know Who You Are? (1996)

Commonly referred to as one of the standards for the emocore movement of the '90s, Texas Is the Reason's Do You Know Who You Are? — which was the last thing said to John Lennon before he died — is the bedrock to this New York City four-piece's short-lived career. Produced by the very talented J. Robbins, the vocal style of singer Garrett Klahn sounds something akin to Richard Marx doing indie rock. Whether that view is received with smiling nods or disapproving stares, the fact remains that Klahn's unique angle of nasally sung vocals was warm enough to draw one in, while not being overbearing to the point of annoyance. With a musical background in various hardcore acts, the guitars break between melodic beauty and low-end chugga-chugga while the drums drive along with blasting consistency and precision. Stark phrases about life's loneliness and the dissonance between friends and lovers create a lyrical atmosphere that invites tremendous one-liners and memorable songs. The title track shows Texas Is the Reason in an abyss of harmonic composure, providing a chance for the listener to catch his or her breath before plunging back into the melodic, enthusiastic rush of "Back and to the Left." While neither as harsh as many of their hardcore predecessors, nor as technical as their counterparts from Washington, D.C., nor as poppy as many of the emo bands to come after them, but instead taking a bit from each, Texas Is the Reason provided the indie rock scene with a combination of all the elements that it took to produce a quality indie rock record. For these reasons, Do You Know Who You Are? stands as one of the necessary albums for fans of emocore.

Texas Is The Reason – Do You Know Who You Are? (1996) 320kbps

password: thelastwordisrejoice

Texas Is The Reason – If It's Here When We Get Back It's Ours (1995)

Texas Is the Reason is a musical group founded by former Shelter guitarist Norm Arenas and 108 drummer Chris Daly. A foundational quartet in the post-Sunny Day Real Estate movement of emo or emocore music, Texas Is the Reason played melodious but forceful rock music before disbanding in 1997.

Norm Arenas (guitar), guitarist for the hardcore Hare Krishna band Shelter, formed Texas Is the Reason with friend and then fellow Hare Krishna devotee Chris Daly (drums), formerly of the band 108, which played music of a similar kind to Shelter's, some time in the early 1990s in New York City. They both desired to leave the macho attitude and religious preaching of their former projects. With former Fountainhead bassist Scott Winegard (bass), the three recruited one-time bassist for Buffalo's Copper, Garret Klahn (guitar/vocals), to round out the quartet.

The name "Texas Is the Reason" is lifted from a Misfits song, entitled "Bullet". It also makes reference to a conspiracy theory about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, in which the president was killed in a plot arranged by Texas Democrats in order to give Lyndon B. Johnson control of the White House. Releasing three songs on an EP, Texas Is the Reason became an underground smash and helped rein in an era of similarly motivated and styled emo bands. They then released a split single with The Promise Ring through Jade Tree Records. The following year, 1995, they released another split single with Samuel, through British record label Simba.

What followed was their first and only full-length album, Do You Know Who You Are?, named after the last statement John Lennon supposedly heard. Produced by Jawbox's J.Robbins and released on Revelation Records , Do You Know Who You Are? brought a lot of major-label courtship to Texas Is the Reason, who were being hailed as the "next big thing" in the growing punk explosion on MTV. Song titles from this album, such as "The Magic Bullet Theory" and "Back and To the Left", continue the allusion to one of the Kennedy assassination theories.

On the eve of signing with one of the major labels in 1997, intra-band tensions arising from the major label attention caused the band to break up. The members headed to various different musical projects, with Garret Klahn to New Rising Sons and Daly to indie outfit Jets to Brazil. Winegard started putting out other bands' records through an imprint he co-owns called GrapeOS, while playing with other musicians in a band called the Americans. The only member to go inactive in the world of indie rock was guitarist Norm Arenas, living in Chicago and DJing for almost three years.

Winegard and Arenas joined Charlie Walker of Chamberlain and Jonah Matranga of Far and Onelinedrawing to form the band New End Original, which lasted from 2000 to 2003. Klahn's New Rising Sons released two EPs through GrapeOS, were dropped by Virgin Records, and then disbanded; he now plays in the band Solea. Daly left the now-defunct Jets to Brazil sometime after their 2002 release, Perfecting Loneliness.

This is their first EP. Listen and enjoy.

password: thelastwordisrejoice

The Promise Ring ‎– Wood/Water (2002)

Davey Von Bohlen had a spongy growth clipped from his brain around the time his band, the Promise Ring, issued a song called "Make Me a Mixtape." It's understandable that, in his condition, the about-30-years-old lisp-singer would re-evaluate his and the Promise Ring's place in the Grand Scheme. So it's odd, then, that his latest album, which jumps from the one-finger "power" pop of previous records to mellow bells-n-thistles studioscapes, feels more like failed market research than soul searching.
Saves the Day and Dashboard Confessional's success must knot TPR's tight little vintage t-shirts in a bunch. The Promise Ring were way ahead of the curve with that stuff; on their first seven-inch, they sketched the emo template with a mechanical pencil rubbing of Sunny Day Real Estate. Then, over the course of a few gigs at Fireside Bowl, Von Bohlen whittled his songwriting down to the sound of two guitars and two hands clapping. The ba-ba-ba's of Pepsi-shilling sheep replaced the whines and cries of college guys lamenting unbearable distances (154 miles, typically) between upstate public universities and hometown honies. At first, emo purists — and those kids really knew how to stand for something — guffawed. But this scene criticism gave way to wholesale copping. Hey, this new minimal guitar pop was easier to play, and more favorable with girls. You could even sing it suckin' on a Dum-Dum. And this Dashboard Confessional tiger bop comes along looking like John Stamos' idea of Social Distortion repeating the embarrassment of TPR's 30 Degrees Everywhere? Calling this trend vanilla is an insult to good ice-cream and yogurt everywhere.
Now into these bands' wake jumps the Promise Ring, arms extended for that golden ring. First thing you notice visually is the absence of the two chubby older guys. "Make Me a Mixtape" and "Happiness Is All the Rage" are hard to swallow coming from guys who should have at least 10G's in their 401Ks. Yes, it was back to Wisconsin for the bassist, and a steady diet of nothing for the guitarist, who now pulls his weight with the artwork and website. Dig the new press kit with the two young ringers. Excuse the cynicism, but this is business and we're talking about a band making their big shot at stardom. Before hearing a note of Wood/Water, knowing the band's history and future at stake, and noting the enlistment of Britpop producer Stephen Street, one'd expect this disc to buzz and bounce like the Rentals or Menswear. Which still doesn't sound very good on paper, but you can't expect Street to magically whip them into the Smiths or Blur.
The humdrum result actually droops and drips as much as the boggy fauna in the artwork. Tracks one through three genre-jump like a band uncertain of which adult-indie trend to follow — Coldplay or the Flaming Lips or, um, REM's Monster? "Size of Your Life" lifts and weakly leaks the guitar from "What's the Frequency Kenneth?" as digital distortion strains to conceal Von Bohlen's toilet-paper tube larynx. It's a test, not a song. "Stop Playing Guitar" spews nonsensical lyrics: "If I had a dime for/ Every time I should stop playing guitar/ And put my nose in a book/ My head would be healthy/ My guitar would be dusty." Finish that cliché! Would you be rich? Could you barely buy some vended Wahoos? Accumulating dimes has nothing to do with head health. Granted, by putting his nose in a book, Von Bohlen would be protecting his delicate nasal cartiledge with pages, spine, and jacket. But unless his skull is a bank, this has nothing to do with dimes. "Suffer Never" follows, mimicking The Soft Bulletin's "Race for the Prize." It towers over the rest of the album, even if the Delgados, Mercury Rev, Lenola, Aspera, et al rip it off more convincingly.
From this point on, the disc sleepwalks through acoustic hangover ditties. Davey yawns his vocals. The band experiments with keyboards and percussion from beyond the realm of emo. Thematically, the lyrics cover themes of apathy and out-growing. It's an album from a guy questioning whether he wants to make albums anymore — the soundtrack to rubbing sleep from your eyes. So it slogs and slogs and slogs and slogs, until... oh my god, until "Say Goodbye Good."
Undoubtedly this will be the song everyone talks about. It was crafted for such a response. The track saddles everything that is lamentable about the Promise Ring with everything that is lamentable in overwrought rock albums. A choir and strings swell from typical non-clever wordplay and it's-serious-because-it's-slow plodding. The target is obviously songs in the ilk of Spiritualized, Blur's "Tender," Smog's "Knock Knock," and the epitome, "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Indeed. Mario Caldato Jr. mixes in misplaced electro-phase effects and Quincy McCrary. What, don't know Quincy? He sang back-up for Lionel Richie and Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Smooth soul wails from Q, like an elevator version of Clare Torry on "The Great Gig in the Sky," launching the song into pure parody. For such a supposed introspective record, session singers with no connection to the music betray the band's intent. At this point, Von Bohlen is M.I.A., an admission that something must be done to compensate for the complete lack of melody in his voice. Simply one of the most laughable and misguided songs of all step-up-to-the-big-boys releases, "Say Goodbye Good" immolates all positive new directions from the band. TPR even fail to recognize the finality and place of such Epic Songs on Big Albums and tack on another meaningless solo guitar tune afterwards.
From a commercial standpoint, Wood/Water misses the boat where another predictable pop album like Very Emergency could have hit big. Experimentation is admirable, but you can't put a Sizzler sirloin on a gold plate and call it a filet. What seems like an attempt to market records to a growing thirtysomething market —guys who groove to Starsailor while Swiffering the hardwood — sounds entirely miscast. The Promise Ring last sounded like themselves on Nothing Feels Good, and from here there's always idyllictronica.
Any time connoisseurs start grumbling that their favorite band has "sold out," chances are good that the object of their newfound derision has just made its best album. That's definitely the case with The Promise Ring's Wood/Water, a shady, insular pop record removed from the anthemic punk melodicism that the Milwaukee quartet rode to cult stardom. Recorded in England with one-time Morrissey collaborator Stephen Street (also known for his work with Blur and The Webb Brothers), Wood/Water finds The Promise Ring learning new modes of expression. In the case of "Stop Playing Guitar," the result is a slower, roomier version of the hooky guitar-rock the band has long performed. The song is basically a power ballad, albeit an unusually catchy one, with a swinging backbeat. For "Suffer Never," The Promise Ring and Street add a woozy compound of synthesizers and distorted guitar to an up-tempo acoustic base, lending a dimension of disconcertion to all the pretty positivism. "Become One Anything One Time"—which has a "la la" chorus that sounds almost litigiously like the bridge to The Mysteries Of Life's "Downhill"—returns again to the slow and quiet, stretching out in the same manner as the song's elastic slide guitar. Bandleader Davey Von Bohlen sings in a high, cracking voice, often returning to words like "heart" and "us." The album's centerpiece, the tender "Wake Up April," works from a muted drum machine and the light tinkling of an electric keyboard, as Von Bohlen rasps away about the potential for greatness: The band slowly moves from a small scale to a large one ("Wake up, America," begins the final verse), before shifting into a pacific sway for the coda. What may be irritating some of The Promise Ring's former fans is that Wood/Water purposefully leaves aside youthful aggression in favor of probing, thoughtful musicality. The group now has more in common with worldly indie-rockers like Guided By Voices, Superchunk, The Flaming Lips, Wheat, and The Delgados; the maturation process is like a bold rebuke to those who'd rather not grow up. But it would be easy and dull for The Promise Ring to keep cranking and bashing, instead of searching for a sound that better matches its moods. While the purists may complain that the new music lacks balls, it certainly has guts.
Noel MurrayA.V. Club

What is a band to do when everything they know/have ever been is turned topsy-turvy? Why, make the record nobody is expecting, of course. It's unclear whether or not it was Davey VonBohlen's illness, or something else entirely, that served as the catalyst for the Promise Ring's dramatic change in sound, but regardless of the reasons, there is nary a buzzing power-chord, lead-footed drum pattern or shouty sing-a-long to be found anywhere on Wood/Water. Much like Radiohead's OK Computer, Wood/Water is a bold venture into new sonic territory — underscored by the bands efforts to determine whether or not they have any right to be there in the first place. The results aren't quite as exemplary as Radiohead's watershed achievement, but the disc offers its share of unexpected thrills.
Under the tutelage of noted producer Stephen Street, the band has sculpted a series of musical mosaics like "Say Goodbye Good", an oddball American cousin of Blur's "Tender" — and ironically enough, the Beatles' "Let it Be". The song's swooning gospel choir accoutrements meld seamlessly with the band's downtrodden delivery and VonBohlen's high-pitched croon. The ringing guitars and playful harmonies of opening couplet "Size of Your Life" and "Stop Playing Guitar" come close to approximating the Promise Ring of old without compromising the group's new direction. Elsewhere, the band spreads its stylistic wings: "Suffer Never" sounds like an outtake from the Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin, while the sparse acoustic guitar work of "Wake Up April" and the countrified ambience of "Half Year Sun" are heavily indebted to the spirit of early Wilco. However, for all the divergent stylistic ground Wood/Water covers, nothing seems forced, signaling that the changes in the group's sound have come on their own terms and are not simply change for change's sake.
It's not until you are able to wrap your head around the idea that, whether you like it or not, this isn't Very Emergency redux, that Wood/Water's true charms reveal themselves. The incandescent meditations of VonBohlen discarding his past — and perhaps not ironically, his future — on "My Life is at Home" are stunning, hinting at issues bubbling deep within his psyche. "Letters to the Far Reaches" and "Become One Anything One Time" are completely devoid of the band's trademark power-pop panache, resulting in tunes that are effective without being ostentatious. However, it seem inaccurate to claim that Wood/Water is TPR's crowning achievement, because in truth, it seems more like a new beginning — the beginning of a career miles removed from the crappy lights and cramped basements of their emo years. While it may very well send their longtime fans running for their copies of Nothing Feels Good, this is the coming of age record TPR simply had to make.
The best bands can deliver in the clutch — they possess the rare ability to craft the records that nobody could have possibly anticipated, and they're typically rewarded with longstanding admiration and all the perks that come with it. That the Promise Ring has achieved such a feat with Wood/Water not only proves their validity beyond the emo realm, but has all but cemented their reputation as one of the most consistently engaging bands of the post-punk era. It's not the record you've been expecting — but then again, this time out, that's the point exactly.
Jason Jackowiak

Milwaukee quintet The Promise Ring's journey to "Wood/Water" was an emotional white water. With three records critically acclaimed and successful by emo standards (1995's "30 Degrees Everywhere", 1997's rousing "Nothing Feels Good" and the solid 1999 follow-up "Very Emergency") things were going fine. Life was okey-dokey for TPR. They cashed decent cheques, they plied their then-unremarkable emo-core.
Post "Very Emergency" a new album was planned, with no anticipated departure from the formula that had brought them a smidgen of success. TPR were ticking over. Then BAM! - in April 2000, singer-songwriter Davey Von Bohlen was diagnosed with a brain tumour the size of a fist. As far as epiphanies go, a fist-sized tumour (that turned out to be benign) must really open up the mind's eye. "Wood/Water" is the monument at the end of it all, an inspiring burst of twinkling melancholy.
Recorded in England, produced by Stephen Street (knob-twiddler behind The Smiths and Blur's finest moments) and mixed by Beck and Beastie Boys associate Mario Caldato Jr, its a soulful, often brilliant collection of bosom-nuzzling pop songs. Think Grandaddy at their most gloriously meandering. Elliott Smith at his most Beatles. Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue at his most lost. And rejoice! It's a record inspired not only by a brush with the reaper, but a new found optimism for life. In the hands of the righteous, TPR's optimism would be sickening. However, in the hands of emo-kids, its great.
Opener '"Size Of Your Life"' (like Blur's 'Tender' but with humility) sees Von Bohlen setting the lyrical tone for the rest of this journey - a leg-up for our cynical hearts. "Yeah, I've been around before - ohhhh!" says Von Bohlen, refocusing his world-weary eyes. "This time I don't know what's in store". ''Suffer Never'' soars off like Idlewild and is equally up-and-at-'em: "It can be so much better/ Get out - lovely weather!".
They do strike a couple of bum notes along the way, mind. ''Say Goodbye Good'' is the Stereophonics doing ''Hey Jude''. ''My Life Is At Home'' is the weeny-wienered emo-standard. But these pithy grumbles pale into insignificance next to the Mercury Rev-fondling ''Letters To The Far Reaches'', ''Half Year Sun'' and the many oddities that buzz around ''Wood/Water''.
The overall diagnosis? Few records this year will get as close to you as ''Wood/Water''. This patient's in great health.
Imran Ahmed

Among the first things one notices about the Promise Ring's big breakthrough album on Anti-Records are the beautifully crisp, metallic photos of plants in a greenhouse shot by photographer Chris Strong. Strong is an amazing photographer who has worked with Owen, American Football, and Hey Mercedes, among others, and whose full, glossy work on Wood/Water delivers the message that the tone on this album is going to be different than previous Promise Ring works. Musically, the Promise Ring is charting new waters here. Die-hard fans may be stretched to their limits with Wood/Water, as it is nothing like previous releases, except for Davey von Bohlen's familiar lisp. So many effects are at work on this album, as influences from roots rock, emo, alternative pop, and multiple other genres are heard on the 12-song disc. A track like "Stop Playing Guitar" highlights von Bohlen's dangling storytelling and emphasizes the relaxed chorus. Surprisingly enough, other tunes sound quite similar to anything one might hear on alternative radio — not in some cheap, commercially viable manner, but it wouldn't be surprising if these songs chart well on college radio. Wood/Water features hooks aplenty, vocal manipulations, and quite a few mellow numbers to boot. Gone are the poppy, blissful, upbeat days of 30° Everywhere and Very Emergency. If the first few tracks don't convince someone of the change in the band's direction, just wait until the 11th song, "Say Goodbye Good," which comes along with a sequence of strings, keyboards, a vocal soloist, and a choir. While the band is surely quite comfortable with what it's doing at this point and while it's easy to appreciate the pop sensibilities, harmonies, and such, in the end the album comes up short. Though Wood/Water starts out lukewarm, there is hope that it will peak. Instead, it continues with a subdued feel, alienating die-hard fans and not doing anything daring enough to attract new ones.
Kurt Morris

The subtle, heartfelt results may not help them shed the "emo" tag, but should propel them beyond cult status.

The high point of the band's career.

The disc's bountiful electric piano, plaintive acoustic guitars and gentle vocals recall old AM radio fare like Cat Stevens or, more currently, an American version of Travis.
E! Online

They've never sounded so confident and comfortable, if maybe a bit tired.
Alternative Press

The gentle spectres of Sparklehorse and Elliott Smith are always near, but [Davey] Von Bohlen's mix of bleary wonder and self-deprecation is charming, and his grasp of melody sure.

A glossy, major-label-sounding record that’s dull, atmospheric, frustrating, and beautiful in pretty much equal amounts.
Nude As The News

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The Promise Ring – Very Emergency (1999)

Unfortunately, you will never see the Promise Ring the way they were in the days of Thirty Degrees Everywhere, but you can at least appreciate the good parts of what they have become. Their emotionally tense and sentimental edge has pretty much entirely disappeared; everything is happy, bouncy, and catchy as hell, which isn't always a bad thing. This excessively poppy direction that the Promise Ring boys take throughout this entire record was heavily hinted at on their three-song EP Boys & Girls. Perhaps one of the more upsetting things about this album is that the lyrics have lost that classic Promise Ring feel — they actually make clear sense a lot of the time. At times, the music just gets so poppy that it is sickening, such as in the sappy "bop bop bop" background vocals on "Skips a Beat (Over You)," and the references to the band members' names in an otherwise fairly decent song "Things Just Getting Good." Although three-fourths of the album is pretty much bad pop songs, it somehow grows on you, as those Promise Ring kids have the uncanny ability to do.

...After listening to "Very Emergency" you'll be destined to sing the songs all day long. This album is for anyone who is looking for an up-beat and well-worth buy. If you are a fan of Weezer, you will enjoy this band. So if you're looking for a great cd, be sure to keep Very Emergency in mind. It is definitely one of the best albums of 1999.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Promise Ring ‎– The Horse Latitudes (1997)

Nestled between the emotionally terse 30 Degrees Everywhere and the pop explosion of Nothing Feels Good, this singles and unreleased songs compilation sees the Promise Ring in a number of different musical phases. The earliest material on the record, including "Watertown Plank" and the emo classic "A Picture Postcard," showcase the raw origins of the band and their early tendencies to couple meandering guitar notes with unbridled and distorted rock. "E. Texas Ave.," a fan favorite from the group's split 7" with Texas Is the Reason, is also a noteworthy inclusion, not to mention the toughest song the band has ever recorded. There are a few dawdling tracks on the record that don't do much of anything, but on the whole, this is a fine collection that clearly illustrates how this band came to reach their indie pop hitmaker status. There's a strong sense of melody that often surfaces from the tracks, and the closing horn bop of "I Never Trusted the Russians" is a clear indicator of where the band would take their sound in the period that followed this album.
A must for the group's fans, The Horse Latitudes is also a pretty good listen for anyone looking for solid emotional rock that is just as good at keeping quiet as it is at blasting out the speakers.

Peter J. D'

The Promise Ring ‎– The Horse Latitudes (1997) 320kbps

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Promise Ring - Nothing Feels Good (1997)

The sophomore disc from these young ones finds the band moving further into the poppiness that they only hinted at on Thirty Degrees Everywhere. Some things remain the same — beautifully odd lyrics, extremely catchy and powerful music, and the overall feeling of sentimentality and imagination that the Promise Ring's music always seems to exude. With the momentum and energy of this band, we could see them heading for the indie-rock history books.

Formed in Milwaukee, Wis. in 1995, the Promise Ring hails from a generation when bands could be labeled as emo despite sounding nothing alike. Nothing Feels Good is just as important a record as Diary, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy or Hello Bastards, even though those records have little in common. If anything TPR is stylistically more in keeping with '90s indie rock bands like Archers of Loaf, Superchunk and Sebadoh.

 Actually, the Promise Ring might be the perfect bridge between those two styles. '90s indie rock bands wrote really good, lo-fi rock songs that weren't actually about anything (Ever wonder why Archers of Loaf didn’t bother broadcasting their lyrics?). Emo bands, though, they mean everything. Chief lyricist Davey von Bohlen struck a balance between these two ideologies. While songs like "Perfect Line" and "Nothing Feels Good" certainly pack some emotional weight ("I don’t know God / I don’t know anyone / or if anything will be alright", for example), von Bohlen would never let direct storytelling get in the way of a good rhyme scheme. Of course, he can certainly let his imagery do the lifting for him too. Consider the lone line that guides "Red & Blue Jeans": "Nothing feels good like you in red and blue jeans and your white and night things." It can be read as sensual, longing, romantic, desperate; it can be all these things because of what it implies.

 One of the slights against emo is that it can be whiny. While von Bohlen’s voice isn’t always the prettiest in the bunch, the guy still knows how to write a hook. So for all the sadsackery associated with the genre, Nothing Feels Good is still valid as a party record. Go put on "Why Did We Ever Meet." The guitars are insistent. The bass bounces. The drums drive the song. And that chorus, man, is just explodes with jubilance. von Bohlen loves bouncing words off each other, but he still knows when to cut back and let "bop bop badada" and "doot doot doodoodoo" carry the song along. Plus there’s a guitar solo! This is what a perfect pop song should sound like. And this album has 10 more songs like that (For those keeping count, "How Nothing Feels" is just an interlude).

 Really, though, Nothing Feels Good is just the beginning. It's the crowd pleaser. Between the Promise Ring, Maritime and Vermont, von Bohlen has 10 records of indie/emo tunes ready to roll (In addition to various EPs 'n' splits. I tend to leave out von Bohlen's other band, Cap'n Jazz, because it doesn't have much of his songwriting voice in there. But the Jazz also rules, so go buy Analphabetapolothology). Nothing Feels Good is an incredible album, but there's more out there. Hurry up before the Promise Ring breaks up again.

The Promise Ring - 30° Everywhere (1996)

These young Wisconsin boys certainly know how to write sharp, powerful, and beautiful songs.
30° Everywhere, the debut album from the Promise Ring, is still their best; it's basically straight-up pop/emo, very catchy, very intense, very powerful. Beautiful lyrics and melodies move from somber thoughts to moments that will make you smile in understanding. It's sort of like the soundtrack to a ride through your memories. Highly recommended.

The Promise Ring - 30° Everywhere (1996) 320kbps

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Friday, April 06, 2012

Imbroco – Are You My Lionkiller? (2000)

With an impressive line-up that includes Scott McCarver (ex-Mineral), Gabe Wiley (Pop Unknown, ex-Mineral), Matt Breedlove ( Pop Unknown ) and Rory Phillips (The Impossibles, ex-The Stereo), an element of pure, experience-bred songwriting can be expected. Beautiful instrumentation, immaculate guitar work, meticulous percussion and tender vocals deliver an onslaught of what is truly respectable in the underground. One of three bands to rise from the ashes of Mineral (others include Pop Unknown and The Gloria Record).
A must have.


 "In that period between the breakup of Mineral and during the early days of Pop Unknown came Imbroco, and Deep Elm has finally pulled their songs together for release. With Scott McCarver and Gabe Wiley from Mineral, it's easy to hear the edgy power of that band on Are You My Lionkiller? But with Wiley and Matt Breedlove also in Pop Unknown, it's also easy to hear the development of that band. Rory Phillips, formerly of The Stereo and currently The Impossibles, has a voice that can go from soft and pretty to emotionally on the verge of screaming in an instant, and although he sounds a bit cleaner and lighter than some emo bands' vocalists, he works perfectly here. So, you probably guessed what Imbroco sounds like: powerful, emotional, guitar-driven post-hardcore rock with beautiful melodic moments and moments of sheer, almost screaming intensity. Imbroco haven't been around for a while, and you're just hearing about it now, but thank Deep Elm for bringing these songs back. Because, if you're like me and you can't ever get enough of Mineral and post-Mineral style emotional rock, you're going to be longing desperately for these songs. Powerful, emotional, and held barely held in check from breaking into chaotic intensity, these songs deserve to be heard. And with beautiful packaging, this disc deserves to be had."
Delusions of Adequacy

 "Are You My Lionkiller is a dream almost tailor-made for fans of melodic, dynamic, lush, and rolling pop, with edges crashing on rock and sonic outburst like hysterics filling the spaces between the waves. I think these guys fall a bit closer to the pop-rock catch of Pop Unknown, but the last song heads toward the streaming, dreaming soul of what used to be Mineral with soaring beauty and melodic ache. Both clean and beautiful, creaming and scratched, it fills you, ocean wide."
Big Takeover

 "What's that old adage? From a small seed grow tall trees or something? Well, that could easily be applied to Imbroco's songs on Are You My Lionkiller? They usually start off small, quiet, introspective — like Holy Rollers or Elliot even — before they start to grow. They grow beyond all proportion until they have a sound that a juggernaut could pass through, with room to spare. The quality tunesmithery should come as no surprise though, bearing in mind they include two members of Pop Unknown, two members of the brilliant Mineral and the vocalist from The Impossibles. Hearing Imbroco in full flow is really an uplifting awe-inspiring sound and that's not to mention the way they can suddenly call a halt to that and reduce things to a subtle jangling guitar and fragile vocal. Another winner from the continually impressive Deep Elm roster."

 "Imbroco are a swirl of soothing but occasionally harsh dynamics... The album's opener "Sixty Six Thousand Miles An Hour" is an assortment of powerful, driving riffs seemlessly blended with gentle, warm resonating guitar...this is nothing short of essential."

 "Yet another winning band from Deep Elm. Imbroco has a good history and Are You My Lionkiller is a six song EP that makes an impression with its schizophrenic approach. Imbroco confronts you with soft, sensitive, sweet nothings out in the lobby and then strong arms you once you're inside. This album is a definite powerhouse. It's super solid and smooth to the last drop. With gentle strumming, poetic lyrics and some outstanding drumming, Imbroco will win you over."

 "The haunting pop echoes that resonate throughout 'Are You My Lionkiller?' prove that this album is as good as anything any of their respective bands have put out. From great power-pop guitar work as in the opening cut 'Sixty-Six Thousand Miles An Hour' to slow and artsy emo as in 'The Rain That Falls Won't Slow Me Down,' this record covers a lot of musical territory. Each songs seems to be an organic whole that runs the gauntlet of emotion from soft and introspective moments to crushing, guitar distortion and howling vocals. This is a truly impressive effort."

 "Imbroco is one of those bands that doesn't have a problem going from soft to loud in the same song. The guitar tones are really cool, ringing out when they are quiet and becoming crushing when they are loud. The vocal delivery of Rory Phillips is great and he fits in naturally with the rest of the band members. Are You My Lionkiller? is just a great pop rock record."
Music Emissions

 "Imbroco is having none of this modern emo sound. Nope, just a strident guitar sound injected into fairly atonal anthems. Oh, and lots of distortion. Kinda like dusting Frosted Flakes with sugar, if you know what I mean. Swerving radically from the sublime to the buzzsaw, Imbroco also hews tightly to the line. I've always liked this sound...Imbroco does it well."
Aiding And Abetting

 "Imbroco is a 'supergroup' of sorts from the big-ass Austin, Texas scene. The result breaks a lot of emo rules, and takes the sounds of both 'parent' bands far beyond anywhere they'd gone before. My favorite is 'The Rain That Falls Won't Slow Me Down' which starts with tense, subtle drumming and almost whispered vocals, rises to a gorgeous chorus featuring an almost perfectly catchy melody, and then builds even further to a crescendo of fiery guitars and tormented howling. These guys really, truly understand that whole 'quiet-loud' dynamic, and use it to great effect all over the place on Lionkiller. At the start, "Sixty Six Thousand Miles An Hour" reminds me a great deal of slower, more introspective rock (particularly underrated Merge indie-pop/rockers Spent)...but then the loud-as-hell guitars come thundering in and demolish anything 'quiet' or understated in their path. I won't pretend to have any clue what this album's about me but I'd bet most of the tracks on Lionkiller are love songs, judging from the delicate, shy-kid artwork on the sleeve, Rory Phillips' heartbroken yell and the lyrics. The closing line of the midtempo, winter-cold "October, November, Ohio" is perhaps the most telling: "This torch I hold is all that keeps me from burning down."

 "Imbroco has a fascinating style, sometimes sounding discordant. But then it's made clear a couple seconds later that the apparent discordance was all part of their subtle plan. There's obviously a lot of work put into this great layering of instrumentation and varied tempo and dynamics, yet it has a sound that is innocent and unpretentious. Excellent work with distortion."
Impact Press

 "With an impressive lineup, Imbroco is a band who's resume speaks for itself. On Are You My Lionkiller? the new combo is quite impressive...wonderful songwriting and meticulous instrumentation. The sound is poppy indie rock that makes you wanna bob your head and smile."

 "There's some pedigree breeding going on here as Imbroco consist of Gabe and Matt of Pop Unknown, Scott ex of Mineral and Rory of The Impossibles (as well as their respective bands prior to current engagements) so you know before you even press play that you're going to get quality. Quite aptly their sound lies somewhere in between all those bands, with emo-pop genius, slow moody ambles and upbeat rockier riffs molded together into one solid sound. They sail smoothly along in a stream of deep and dreamy rock, that occasionally hardens itself into noisy feedback coated choruses. Very neat indie-rock."

 "Consisting of members of Mineral and Pop Unknown, Imbroco is a quartet that digs deep into shoegazer pop. The songs are extremely gentle, lapping on the listener's shore with a hushed ebb and flow. Occasionally, as during the final moments of "You're My Lionkiller," a stronger wave crashes down on the mind's sand castles...but softer tides soon return to smooth out the scars. It's during these rougher moments that I find the band most appealing. The entire album is immaculate in its production and execution. The harsher sections make Imbroco stand out from the crowd — which, although it may be somewhat antithetical to the shoegazer style, makes for more engaging listening."

 "Imbroco's member list sounds like the who-is-who of the Midwest scene. Scott, Gabe, Matt and Rory decided to get together and rock this world. It reminds me on a poppier version of the Texas legend Mineral. But the best description still is the one I got from Deep Elm...from indie rock to shoegazer pop to manic bursts of guitar distortion and feedback... Check it out cause it rocks."
Silent Stagnation

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Get Up Kids - Something To Write Home About (1999)

It must be tough being The Get Up Kids. Being accused of completely killing the world of emo is we know it. Well, that seems a little harsh, but the Kansas kids have always been compared to the term "emo". I don't really understand why, since they music is incredibly poppy. Nevertheless, it was this album that got them that status. As the kings of "emo", or at least to the desperate fans that loved this album in the 20th century. Something To Write Home About is quite simply a collection of pop-punk fueled anthems filled to the brim with clever lyrics and catchy melodies.

From the pick sliding up that guitar in the beginning of "Holiday", you know you are in for a treat. Matt's strong voice sings "What became of everyone I used to know? Where did our respectable convictions go?" over a beautifully pieced-together pop tune that brings as much rhythm to it as it does heart. The tempo change into the second chorus, the massive slow-down at the end, all fantastic additions to this impressive opener. The album then rushes through "Action & Action", another poppy track with more focus on the keyboard melody placed over Matt's lyrics.

"Valentine" is the first real big highlight of the album, and a look at how The Kids can write such beautiful poetry. "Your good intentions count for little anymore. If you're sorry why wage war?" are sung powerfully and almost effortlessly while the music feels like another track in itself. James' piano work against Ryan's rolling drums sound brilliant. "Red Letter Day" follows en suite, providing more melodic and emotional soft-pop tunes. The lyrics are very vague, yet they fit the rocky music so nicely.

It's not often you heard acoustic tracks in the middle of an album as electrically-dominated as well, yet "Out Of Reach" feels right at home. I'll be honest, it's poorly played. Yet that gritty edge it has works to perfection against Matt's harmonic voice. It's sweet and uplifting, yet ironically depressing at the same time, and it couldn't have been produced better. Next we have another catchy number. "Ten minutes" will have you singing along in, well, ten minutes. Maybe not, but it's memorable chorus and melodic riffs will surely stick in your head. And once again, the lyrics shine as bright as ever ("Maybe things are getting better/Maybe things aren't so bad./Don't be gone when I get home, you're all I have" sounds amazing), proving The Get Up Kids can write more than a sad ballad.

"The Company Dime" is one of the more downbeat songs on the album, yet keeps the instruments the band are used to. It's slow tempo and piano melody instead of a keyboard back the fantastically played drum beats and Matt's strong voice. It's not one of the catchiest songs on the album, and it's unlikely you'll be singing along to this one, but there are some clever words slipped in. "My Apology" is Matt's apology for previous lyrics he's written, but sound sheerly brilliant against the quiet tone of the song. "Sometimes I'm old enough to keep routines, sometimes I'm child enough to scream" plays like a poem, as well as many other lines in this song. Not the best on the album, but it's lyricary is beautiful.

Where would a song as sad and down-beat as this be without a nice track about a one night stand? "I'm A Loner Dottie, A Rebel" tells the tale of 'the morning after' to perfection, as Matt sings "One night, doesn't mean the rest of my life." openly. It's a sad song, and you really get the feeling of how the night went down. "Long Goodnight" is another ballad-esque and sad song, focusing mostly on hateful lyrics ("If it all ended tonight/You know that I wouldn't mind." flows poetically through the speakers). It's captivating how strong these lyrics sound against their radio-friendly pop-punk music.

"Close To Home" is a brilliant song, and has a very feel-good summer vibe to it. The guitar riffs, the keyboard melodies, the pounding drums, they fit so well together. And once again, Matt steals the song with his impressive songwriting ("There's no shame like no sound/From sources hits close to home/Everything we've found says make your own destiny." is one line). Of course, this leads into probably one of the most famous ballads in the pop-punk world. "I'll Catch You" is a desperately emotional ride, as Matt sings with his heart on his sleeve over a simple yet incredibly memorable piano melody. It's not their best song lyrically, but it works so well as it's so simple. No complex metaphors or tongue-twisting verses, just regular and easy-to-remember lyrics. "Don't worry, I'll catch you/Don't ever worry" just sounds truthful and straight, and I think that's what makes this song such a raw and intense way to cap off the album.

In my opinion, this is a classic. Many bands today will say they were influenced by this album, both lyrically and musically. Matt and co's impressive talent quickly spread through the US and the world, and made The Get Up Kids a household name in pop-punk. It's both easy to get into, and an eye-opener to lyrics you didn't notice that sound so beautiful on the next listen. It's well produced, it's well recorded, and it's just an all-round perfect example of how melody and pop-punk can sound beautiful.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Get Up Kids - Four Minute Mile (1997)

The 4:00 mile is running’s most acclaimed benchmark. Without a doubt, the standard has lost some of its intrigue over the years as it’s become more realistic, but back in the mid-1900’s it was widely believed by runners and scientists alike that such a feat was impossible, that your heart would literally explode upon attempting the endeavor. Now that the mile record has gone well under 4:00, by a whopping 17 seconds, what used to seem so distant is now achieved by professional middle-distance runners across the globe. In a sense, the album name here is pretty apt. Four-Minute Mile is truly a milestone of the genre. Like breaking the 4:00 mile put Roger Bannister and running on a grand, international stage, Four-Minute Mile did the same for the youthful band from Missourri who soon found themselves touring Europe and Asia, fresh out of high school. With their debut album Four-Minute Mile, The Get Up Kids solidified themselves as major players in the second-wave emo scene, as well as single-handedly jumping the gun on what would turn into the 21st century’s pop-punk. It makes perfect sense that Four-Minute Mile is so influential and prominent. While it may be a bit rash and haphazard at times, The Get Up Kids concoction of emo and humungous pop hooks is intensely lovable. Lyrically intelligent and relatable, emotional, and endearingly catchy, it pains me to think of an album better suited to reminisce being 17 years old and carefree.

 For the sake of accuracy, it should be made clear that The Get Up Kids' subsequent album, Something To Write Home About, is widely heralded as the true album that influenced so many big-name pop-punk acts. It should also be mentioned that The Get Up Kids wish to disassociate themselves with subsequent pop-punk. Guitarist Jim Suptic took the time to make this obvious when he said, "The punk scene we came out of and the punk scene now are completely different. It's like glam rock now. We played the Bamboozle fests this year and we felt really out of place... If this is the world we helped create, then I apologize." With the mounds of influence, though, that dissociation is tough to come by. Acts like Blink-182 and Fallout Boy regularly cite TGUK as a cheif predecessor. It’s not just the big names either, listening to The Early November's "Baby Blue," you can hear an ode to TGUK both lyrically and melodically, when they repeat lines from "No Love," "I don’t / want you / ... to love me anymore". How exactly did such an inexperienced, juvenile, quintet make such a prominent footprint so early in their career?

The Get Up Kids most coveted asset is their uncanny ability to take the long-standing emo aesthetic and make it delightfully accessible and upbeat. Through a plethora of well-crafted melodies, catchy hooks, and choruses, TGUK injected some "pop" into their emo, and the hybrid was born, Four-Minute Mile. "Coming Clean," "Don’t Hate Me," "Stay Gold Ponyboy," and "No Love" all contain gloriously refreshing melodies and hooks. Keep in mind, this is well before that same catchiness was left out in the sun one-too-many times and eventually became stale. Either way, Four-Minute Mile is undeniably infectious, an album as easy to sing along to as it is to get absorbed in the lyrics. Be wary though, these are the minds of high-schoolers on TGUK's debut. Four-Minute Mile was recorded in a single weekend, after drummer Ryan Pope got out of school on Friday and finished before the bell on Monday morning. In effect, the listener becomes privy to an insightful look into the psyche of The Get Up Kids, mostly filled with thoughts on love, relationships, and life before responsibility. The carefree vibe of Four Minute Mile meshes perfectly with both the massive pop hooks, and the more introspective, slow-burning tracks like "Better Half," most notably.

As my present review unfolds, it becomes more and more placid what the biggest draw on Four-Minute Mile is- the complementary nature of the album. The raw energy galvanizes the lively lyrics. The catchiness sits alongside the album’s pithiness, giving the album an air of such listenability. Perhaps most notable, though, is the production or lack thereof. Four-Minute Mile, as you’ve probably guessed, isn’t the most polished release. Raw, tattered, and rough, the intimacies of Four-Minute Mile aren’t lost among too much glitter and paint. The personal nature of the album is heavenly, and only serves to heighten the experience, like anything other than a slipshod production would have made Four-Minute Mile half the album it is. 

Speculations aside, Four-Minute Mile is what solidifies The Get Up Kids as pop-punk forefathers, for me. Despite their more newfound disillusionment with the scene they inspired, their influence is indisputable and deserved; and Four-Minute Mile remains the primary source of this inspiration. Before responsibility, complications, and real life is thrust upon you, revel in The Get Up Kids; because they personify the insouciant and idealistic life of 18 year old, American guys with nothing but girls, graduating high-school, and leaving their hometown on their minds. Better yet, listen to Four-Minute Mile well after those sublime years have fleeted, and reminisce quietly... or while screaming your lungs out to "No Love" and "Coming Clean," like I do.


The Get Up Kids, as I established in my review of the later Something To Write Home About, are pretty much genius in my opinion. Barring all minor eps and demos, this is the predecessor to STWHA, but it is truly a different album.

On 4MM, The Get Up Kids have both the mild songs that blow you away with subtle lyrics and great melodies, and harder, faster songs that don't stray too far from the GUK formula that so many love yet compliment them with some great guitar riffs (Washington Square Park).

So, onto the actual review of the album:

We start off with "Coming Clean", a short but powerful song that has some great lyrics. The low harmonies in this song also work very well.

"Don't Hate Me" has a sound that I can't really pinpoint, but I know it sounds like something I've heard before- anyways, it's a great song with a bridge that gets me every time.

 "Fall Semester", I believe, is not sung by lead singer Matt Pryor, but I'm not sure. What is really great about this song is that I think that some of the words in here can be applied to our everyday lives — "There's so many other things for me to find out." And I'm sure a lot of people feel this in their lives, and it comes out as a powerful song with a ton of emotion.

"Stay Gold, Ponyboy" is a very good song, but I'll tell the truth — I've never found anything truly special about this besides the lyrics, which I find as some of the strongest on the album.

"Lowercase West Thomas" is a song that at first seems like it ends too soon, but then I realize that it does well at getting the point of the song across — it's really one of my favorites because I'm thinking about one set of lyrics and that set of lyrics is basically the whole song. Very good song overall.

Okay, "Washington Square Park" is the song I really want to talk most about. The opening of this song does not sound like a GUK song — and I love it. It's a fast paced guitar riff that sets up the song perfectly and makes it so much more powerful. The lyrics and the chorus are strong and wow I cannot say enough about the guitar riffs, because I love them. Maybe they don't belong on a GUK album, but hell, they fit very well with the fast pace of this song.

"Last Place You Look" is a nice song but it seems to fall a bit flat in the hooks department, and one of the things I like best about GUK is the way that they can basically make hooks out of anything. However, it's a bit lacking here, but I still really enjoy this song anyway.

"Better Half" is another mellow song that seems like an even slower "Company Dime", except that it has a few more hooks and so it is still very much worth listening to.

"No Love" and "Shorty" feel like they should be #1 and #2 on this album, as they both have great harmonies, and "Shorty" features an exceptional, exceptional guitar part that kicks in after the second verse. Both have great hooks that make them very memorable.

Okay, here's the deal. Even though I can't say enough about WSP, this song actually gets my vote for best song of the album. "Michelle With One L" is an unbelievably sound song lyrically and melodically, and the emotion is so strong that it has become one of my favorite GUK songs. I love this song because it contains so much, and closes a CD that has stayed in my player for a very, very long time.

The Evil Monkey

The Get Up Kids - Four Minute Mile (1997) 320kbps

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Sunny Day Real Estate – Sunny Day Real Estate (also known as LP2) (1995)

Despite Diary's success, SDRE had a pretty uncomfortably defined relationship with their audience as well as themselves, so the follow-up proved to be a knottier affair, and not just because it's widely known as either Sunny Day Real Estate, LP2, or The Pink Album. The songs themselves didn't get any shorter or less intense, but they feel significantly less edified. When the charmingly animated video for "Seven" ran on "120 Minutes", it never felt too out of place regardless of whether it led into Jawbox or Pearl Jam, but LP2 tended to veer more towards the obscure. It certainly didn't help that the packaging itself contained no artwork other than its entirely pink cover or lyric sheet. And compared to Diary's untouchable opening triad, that of LP2 was bound to pale, and you feel like SDRE is playing it overly self-aware — "Friday", "Theo B", and "Red Elephant" each would've been the shortest track on Diary, save for its near-interlude "Phuerton Skeurto". "Friday" starts LP2 with the kind of risky, slippery melody that all but screams "difficult follow-up." The high-wired guitars of "8" introduce damn near atonality, the kind of chords an amateur bangs out on a piano, but soon they become the backbone of the record's most muscular number.

It's easy to project the idea that this was a band dissolving personally and musically from the inside-out if you know the history, but the music itself is every bit as ghostly on its own — even beyond the threadbare arrangements, Enigk has said that many lyrics were left unfinished or sung as gibberish. LP2 certainly has more than its share of moments, but in the context of SDRE's artistic arc, a time when they wanted to be Shudder To Think instead of arena-fillers can feel like a bridge to nowhere.

And that was pretty much it for the classic lineup of SDRE — the rhythm section would play on Foo Fighters' The Colour and the Shape, a record whose brickwalled dynamics and gleaming-edge guitar arguably did just as much to determine the actual sound of modern radio rock as Sunny Day or even producer Gil Norton's work with the Pixies. Meanwhile, Enigk would put more emphasis on mysticism than mystery for 1998's amber, glowing How It Feels to Be Something On and 2000's divisive swan song (to this point) The Rising Tide. Some saw Tide as a natural culmination of Enigk's sonic ambitions and lyrical specificity, while others took Return of the Frog Queen and "Rain Song" in tandem and wondered when the fuck this guy turned into Rick Wakeman. Either way, it certainly deserved better than to be tethered to Time Bomb Records, which would shortly cease to exist after the release of The Rising Tide.

Sure, the B-sides will generate some interest amongst die-hards, but as is the case with the recent Radiohead reissues, the sort of fans that would buy a Sunny Day Real Estate album twice probably are more than familiar with, say, "The Crow". But really, it might just be in the vein of so many rereleases that are meant as a reminder or a call for rediscovery — in some circles, SDRE is Pavement, or MBV or any of the other 1990s legends you might care to mention, but a huge difference of perception is that most of their acolytes, despite making great records, are just too damn earnest to be fashionable. Or maybe it's just that Sunny Day Real Estate's influence is more conceptual than musical, and if that's the case, it's been so fully adapted into modern rock (emo or not) that it's not so much innovative as it is timeless.

Sunny Day Real Estate – Sunny Day Real Estate (also known as LP2) (1995) 320kbps

Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary (1994)

Whether it's lifelong softies like Jimmy Eat World, strident scream machines such as Thursday, or over-their-heads windbags in the vein of Angels & Airwaves, critspeak about bands with roots in emo usually dictates the following career path: Hang with Fat Mike all you want, call us when you're ready to sound like U2. It's an easy narrative to set up, maybe because it requires fewer keystrokes than the more correct comparison: Sunny Day Real Estate.

It's got nothing to do with churches of reverb or Christianity, though those would come later for SDRE. Taking the longview, SDRE seem even less of their time than they were in the mid-90s, positioned between the more stone-faced acolytes of Fugazi and the branches of Jade Tree that went mathletic or simply stuffed as many proper nouns as possible into radio-intended pop-punk (see: songs called "Anne Arbour"). SDRE saw beyond the constraints of "scene" and envisioned a point where the meek would inherit the arena — independently minded, sensitive boys doling out anthems of introspection to thousands of fist-raising, navel-gaving kids. With a hotly anticipated fall tour coming, Sub Pop has reissued the original lineup's only two records, which reaffirm what those swiftly sold-out shows already made pretty clear: a lot of people love these guys, and rightfully so.

What immediately strikes you about Diary is it doesn't sound intended to be a gamechanger — even if it's no surprise that one of emo's most enduring documents is called Diary of all things. But even if it doesn't break new ground musically, it signaled a new way to talk about the passion. The quicksilver time-changes and jangly-but-not-collegiate guitar chords show nods to Dischord, but it's the terse yet tender delivery of the lyrics from Jeremy Enigk that ultimately drew people in. "The waiting could crush my heart/ The tide breaks a wave of fear," okay, fine — this kind of stuff inspired a whole lot of heartfelt word salad from far less talented sadsacks, but "Seven" still is one of those great album-starters, written like they had to win you over in five minutes or it would be their last song.

Immediately after, the insistently ringing two-note riff that opens "In Circles" portents something every bit as excitable, but to this day, I still find myself genuinely surprised as it folds into a half-time dirge. It's quite possibly the definitive SDRE song, since it's here where you hear their signature trick: Enigk is often content to softly nudge verse melodies, but the choruses are something else entirely. If the harmonies were prettier, it could be straight-up pop; if they were yelled, it might be punk. Here, it simply hits a sweet spot for people who were into shows for the community, but also to meet potential dates. The rangy, disarmingly ramshackle "Song About an Angel" nearly equals it during its six-minute run.

If Diary has a reputation of being front-loaded, it can't be in the pejorative sense: bands can and have spent entire careers ripping those three songs off over and over again. For a while, I thought Diary happened to be an album whose importance exceeded its quality — thanks to some unfortunately (or unavoidably) dated production, if nothing else. That's been remedied to good extent on this remaster — "The Blankets Were the Stairs" no longer sounds as grounded by its granular grunge tones, and the drums sound less bogged in Green River sludge. Elsewhere, classic rock guitar heroics are more prevalent than Pac NW grunge: certainly in the memorable riffs from "47" and "Round", and "Shadows" played the shadow-and-light game better than any of their peers who were just dying to be compared to Led Zeppelin.

Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary (1994) 320kbps