Vermont MC Joe Mulherin recasts emo in the light of hip-hop as Nothing, Nowhere. | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Vermont MC Joe Mulherin recasts emo in the light of hip-hop as Nothing, Nowhere. 

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click to enlarge Nothing, Nowhere.

Nothing, Nowhere.

Greta Rybus

Music scenes are a lot like high school lunch tables: people congregate with others who share not only genres but touring networks, mutual friends, and even inside jokes. When their musical styles are especially similar as well, subtle differences in, say, the application of an arpeggiating guitar are what distinguish like-minded musical acts from each other. “Soundcloud rap” is an vague term glommed onto many budding MCs with a slightly aggro style and an account on the streaming audio platform. Within that rising scene, a small number of artists have leaned heavily on the aesthetics of third-wave emo—but even beneath that umbrella there are divides. Joe Mulherin, aka 25-year-old Vermont rapper Nothing, Nowhere. (in addition to the comma and the period he styles his name in all lowercase letters), is a bit of an outsider. While most current “emo rappers” apply the 2000s sound to songs that thoroughly reflect the culture of contemporary rap, Mulherin—who shows a deep understanding and reverence for hip-hop and its history—has grafted rap’s percussive skeleton onto achingly morose guitars that are as inextricable from third-wave emo as Warped Tour. But though his sound is rooted in rap, he proceeds through music taking a route mapped out by acts that are traditionally rock, in terms of the structure of his songs and how he conducts his career. He’s toured and performed with bands best known in the guitar-based underground (La Dispute, Tiny Moving Parts, and, um, Thrice), and he’s signed to the label run by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump, DCD2 Records. His October album, Reaper, also features Dashboard Confessional main man Chris Carrabba, whose durable, yearnsome vocals commingle with Mulherin’s music so easily you could be fooled into thinking the track is a Swiss Army Romance B side.   v

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