Friday, August 9, 2013

On Mineral and midwestern emo's second wave

Posted By on 08.09.13 at 12:34 PM

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I just belatedly read Leor Galil's B-Side cover story about the fourth wave of emo that's currently bubbling up from basements around the country (and elsewhere on the globe), and if you haven't yet you should too. This new wave is focused on the particular sound that was coming out of the midwest in the 90s and was largely identified with bands like Cap'n Jazz, the Promise Ring, the Get Up Kids, and Braid. As someone who was right in the thick of midwestern emo's original heyday, witnessing its second coming is a little bit embarrassing in the same way as seeing your high school senior photos again, and it's also fairly weird, but it's also deeply validating to see an aesthetic you once had a personal stake in find relevance with an entirely new audience.

One line in the article that really leaped out at me, as a veteran of that scene, comes when Tom Mullen, who runs the Washed Up Emo blog, talks about how "random kids would send me their demos . . . and all they did was copy Mineral." The hilarious part of that quote is that copying Mineral (who were themselves pretty blatantly copying Sunny Day Real Estate) was itself a very popular activity among the type of emo bands that the fourth wave is now emulating.

Mineral was in many ways the quintessential midwestern emo group of the time—even though they were from Texas. Although Sunny Day was aesthetically the most important band in that scene, they weren't really present during the peak years of their influence, spending them instead in a state of limbo amid breakups and reunions, both rumored and actual. Mineral was actually present, and they inspired such a vast legion of bands playing in a very similar pretty, quiet-loud, sweeping style that it was basically assumed that any emo show you went to would have one on the bill.

So if anything, this new wave of emo revivalists is even more historically accurate than they may know. And the snake goes on eating its own tail forever.

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