Tag Archives: knapsack

120 Minutes (Give or take a few)

Back in the autumn of 1991 my Dad climbed up on our roof and installed the satellite dish that came free with the washing machine him and my mum had just recently purchased and in doing so opened our family up to a whole new world of television. One of the many new channels in particular had a major impact on me as an impressionable 11-year-old, MTV. MTV then isn’t like what MTV is now, back then it really was music television. Hours of back to back music videos interspersed with shows about music, none of this reality tv rubbish (except for maybe the Real World, but that was pretty great. Remember Puck??). I would spend, what would seem like, whole days watching, absorbing all that was brilliant about music at this time. My favourite shows were obviously the ones that focused on alternative music, being Headbangers Ball to start with and moving on to Alternative Nation and 120 minutes as my tastes changed.

120 Minutes/Alternative Nation turned me on to so many different bands that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. They played amazing, interesting and exotic videos that covered a broad spectrum of alternative music. And because it was on late at night this seemed to add an extra intrigue and danger to the videos. I would record the shows and watch back on VHS over the following few days, there was something about watching it this way as an early teen that added excitement and intrigue and made the music all the better for it. These were shown past my bedtime, they weren’t for me and yet there I would be lapping them up.

I would fantasise a lot about being in a band as a teenager and one fantasy would be that I would get to present one of these shows and choose the videos. None of the bands I’ve been in got anywhere so I never got to fulfil this ambition, but here’s the next best thing. A selection of videos below that I would’ve chosen if it were up to me, from that time that I remember, ones from back then that I’ve discovered since and some new ones. Hope you enjoy!!

1. Rainer Maria – Catastrophe

I don’t write enough about Rainer Maria and the more I listen to them the more I’m convinced they’re one of the all time great emo bands. This video is of course awesome, I like the silhouette coming to life effect but I can’t really condone standing in a paddling pool with a plugged in toaster, don’t try it at home kids!!

2. Jawbox – Cornflake Girl

It still amazes me that this exists! I really loved Tori Amos as a teenager which was a direct result of ‘Silent all these years’ being repeated every hour on MTV and ‘Cornflake Girl’ is a classic, I came to be a fan of Jawbox later on and was blown away when I discovered that they had done this cover. Although I don’t recall seeing it, this is exactly the kind of video you would see late at night on Alternative Nation etc.. In a tired state, staying u past your bedtime you’d sit thinking ‘Does this really exist? Am I dreaming?’ And it does!!!!!!

3. Sunny Day Real Estate – In Circles (Live on 120 Minutes)

Introduced by who else but Iggy Pop (??), this is Sunny Day performing ‘In Circles’ live in the studio in 1994 and everything about it is brilliant from the massive font MTV used to use to say who was talking to the short interview at the start where William Goldsmith tries to give excuses as to why they might not sound great on TV. Which is crazy, they sound incredible, super loud and proper powerful.

4. Maritime – Paraphernalia

I hope they got all the shots for this video in one take, the band performing in a blizzard looks pretty but it don’t look fun. The director probably convinced them it was a great idea and they probably agreed that, on paper, it sounds cool but in reality they don’t look like they’re enjoying themselves. As I said, it does look good and the song is great so it probably all worked out for the best.

5. Knapsack – Cellophane

This video is so gloriously 90’s it hurts. From seeing the band primarily through a viewmaster, watching the band drive around in a car to seeing them perform in a room usually to small to fit a band in. Combine this with close up shots of their guitars and the amazing song then you’ve got all components for the quintessential 90’s alternative band video.

6. Juliana Hatfield – What A Life

This song reminds me so much of being 15 and standing, completely hung over, in the front row of the main stage at the 1995 Reading Festival. Juliana was one of the early afternoon acts and did a wonderful job of lifting my mood after a night of excess that I instantly regretted. All I remember from the night before was throwing up on my sleeping bag, turning it over then getting in it and passing out. When I emerged from my tent in the morning, loads of people I didn’t recognise were saying hi to me and they weirdly all knew my name, what had happened in the night I dread to think. It was a great festival despite feeling rough for the rest of the weekend.

7. Papayer – Heated

This is probably my favourite song of this year so far, I have been trying to get an interview with these guys but my email is letting me down which is more than a damn shame. This video is genius in its simplicity, a prime example that you don’t need the budget of ‘Thriller’ to make a brilliant video that will last long in your memory. I could watch this all day!!

8. Cancer Bats – Sabotage

I love this video and, in theory, I guess it shouldn’t work. Everyone knows that the original Beastie Boys version and Spike Jonze’s video for it is one of the all time greatest music videos, of all time!! But Cancer Bats, number one, nailed the cover and, number two, found a way to pay homage to the original but give enough of themselves to make it different. Their constantly mistaking people dressed as the Beastie Boys cracks me up. Enjoy!

9. Snowden – Anti Anti

Seeing this on MTV lead me to buying the album as soon as I could find it and although the album didn’t win me over, I still think this song is terrific. The use of the lights as the band members gives it a feel similar to the White Stripes lego video but I prefer this. Probably because the song is a billion times better and the video is really well made.

10. Piebald – Just A Simple Plan

I saw Piebald play live once, when they opened up for the Movielife at the LA2 in London. I missed their last song because they had asked onstage if anyone could put them up for the night. I rushed to the merch stand to offer the floor of my flat, bumped into someone I hadn’t seen for a long time doing the same thing and whilst we were chatting someone got there first. I still tried to get them to stay over but I was competing against 2 girls who were from the same state as them and had a place down the road from the venue, I was never going to win. This song/album took over our lives for a whole summer, it is that bloomin’ catchy.

11. Rollins Band – Liar

This video takes me right back, we were too young for Black Flag so to me and my friends in the early 90’s Henry Rollins was the crazy guy who made video’s like this and popped up in films with Charlie Sheen. There was a countdown of the best alternative music videos on MTV at some point in the 90’s that was hosted by Henry Rollins in which he completely ripped it out of several bands, namely Depeche Mode. We watched this on repeat and would quote him all the time if someone mentioned one the bands he had torn apart with his wry delivery. This video looks just as good now as it did back then.

12. This Beautiful Mess – Don’t Go There

These guys played Margate sometime around 2004 and I became obsessed with this album and especially this song. Annoyingly cut short for the video as opposed to the album version at least this video ticks the box for having a band play moodily in a dark forest. Great use of trumpets too.

13. Built To Spill – In The Morning

When I was at drama school in the early 00’s my friends would always make fun of the music I listened to. One day when I was listening to ‘There’s nothing wrong with love’ on my discman some of them invented a game where they would put my headphones on, press play and watch people hanging out during their lunch hour. The music playing would instantly turn the mundane in to an American high school movie or an episode of Dawson’s Creek and they would take turns in putting the headphones on and then fall about laughing. I guess it was a pretty funny game, they never got what a genius album this was though, the bloody fools.

14. Death Cab For Cutie – The Sound Of Settling

One of the most infectious indie emo songs ever written with a nice video to back it up. What more do you need to say?? It’s only 2 minutes long so not much I guess. Just give it a watch.

15. Sick of it all – Step Down

What a classic! This video taught me all my dance moves, I still do ‘pickin’ up change’ to this day (back pain permitting). You would always see this video on Headbangers Ball or Alternative Nation back in the day, it is a brilliant use of the fake news report style and just people going nuts in a New York basement. They totally nailed us with ’emo style’ too, hilarious that as a young teen, out of all the dance moves they showcase in this video, it’s the one they are taking the piss out of that I would end up doing the most. haha

Thanks for watching.

Get in touch: http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, @alex_itto or ittoblog@gmail.com








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Previously on the Top 100 emo songs of all time…….

100 – Reggie and the full effect – Thanx for stayin

99 – Roadside Monument – Sunken Anchor

98 – Boilermaker – Slow Down

97 – Hundred reasons – If I could

96 – Jets to Brazil – Chinatown

95 – Coping – F For now

94 – Inside – Ray Brower

93 – Basement – Grayscale

92 – The Jazz June – Viva La speed metal

91 – Everyone Everywhere – I feel fine by Everyone Everywhere

90 – Hunter Gatherer – Low standards for high fives

89 – Football, etc. – Safety

88 – Race Car Riot – Raincheck

87 – Taking Back Sunday – Bike scene

86 – Leiah – Tiglio

85 – Brandtson – Still life

84 – Polar Bear Club – Bottled wind

83 – Starmarket – Losing track

82 – Sunny Day Real Estate – Guitar and video games

81 – Grade – Stolen bikes ride faster

80 – Bob Tilton – September

79 – The Autumn Year – Little lost words

78 – Koufax – Going to happen

77 – Wavelets – Julio won’t get out of the car

76 – The Get Up Kids – Forgive and Forget

75 – Hot Rod Circuit – At nature’s mercy

74 – The Appleseed Cast – Steps and numbers

73 – Stapleton – International departures

72 – New End Original – Lukewarm

71 – Hundred Hands – A Replay

To read more about these tracks click HERE for no’s 100-91, HERE for no’s 90-81 and HERE for no’s 80-71. And for some background as to why I’m doing this list click HERE

70 – Knapsack – Cellophane

 Track one from their first album ‘Silver Sweepstakes’, Knapsack create a sound so warm it feels like summer. Released in 1995 and sounding like it was from no other time period, ‘Cellophane’ is packed with charm and dirty guitars full of feedback. The chorus is full on lo-fi/emo/grunge magic, I could easily listen to it all day. Knapsack went on to release 2 more albums, after they broke up singer/guitarist Blair Shehan formed the Jealous Sound.

69 – Elliott – Dionysus Burning

 For me this is the best track from their best album. ‘Dionysus Burning’ is taken from Elliott’s debut full length ‘U.S. Songs’ and highlights Chris Higdon’s beautiful voice at it’s most glorious. Switching from the brooding/slow building verse into a killer guitar riff and beyond. Great band.

68 – The Lapse – We Must Move Backwards To Progress

 Forming from the ashes of the legendary band The Van Pelt, The Lapse released the stonkingly good album ‘The Betrayal!’ in 1998. At the end of a record full of art rock emo weirdness and some of the best indie guitar playing your likely to hear lies ‘We must move backwards to progress’ and boy does this song get in your head. I defy you to listen to it without then repeating “WE MUST MOVE BACKWARDS TO PROGRESS” non stop to anyone and everyone you see. If you have read my blog before then you are probably aware of the time I had a small altercation with the singer Chris Leo, if you haven’t then click HERE to read it.

67 – Owls – Everyone Is My Friend

 The members of Owls have, in various guises, can take full responsibilty for inventing and then re-inventing emo as we know it and influencing too many bands to name in the process. From the full on brilliance of Cap’n Jazz to the more abstract and interesting Joan Of Arc and onto the more straightforward and mature Owls, nothing these people have done has been less than genius. ‘Everyone is my friend’ is an uptempo, summery, toe tapping song of absolute joy!!

66 – Suis La Lune – Quiet, Pull The Strings!

 When I was standing patiently waiting for Pianos Become The Teeth to come on stage last year in Margate, little did I know I was about to be blown away by another band altogether. Suis La Lune were a completely unexpected and completely welcome surprise. They can sublimely shift from the twinkly beautiful to the powerfully loud in a matter of seconds. They were recently added to the Topshelf Records roster so expect big things from these beautiful gents with a penchant for a good moustache.

65 – Sunday’s Best – Winter Owned

 Taken from the ‘Poised to break’ album, I discovered this song on the Crank! records sampler ‘Stay tuned for the holidays’ and fell in love with the first listen. It is (nearly) 3 minutes of pop perfection, it makes me wanna smile, dance, do all sorts of crazy fun stuff all at once. Fantastically good.

64 – CSTVT – Hiccups

 Any song from ‘The Echo and the Light’ could have easily been included in this list such is the quality of the record, but that would have been unfair to the other bands so I made a decision to just use my favourite, ‘Hiccups’. When the song reaches the part where it slows down and introduces the multiple vocals in the background it is blissfull, the song then bulds back up before fading out into a post rock dream. Wonderful!!!

63 – Vitreous Humor – Sharin’ Stone

 Without releasing a proper full length album Vitreous Humor still made their mark on ’emo’ history. They did release an EP, a couple of 7 inches and a posthumous compilation album called ‘Posthumous’, which ‘Sharin’ Stone’ is taken from. It’s a curious mix of a discordant bass riff on the verse which builds into a rocking, guitar driven chorus. And they were on Crank! which is shorthand for “they’re awesome”

62 – Beezewax – Dead end kids

 It seems sad now but I remember how excited I was when I got my first mobile phone that had the compose feature which allowed you to create your own ringtone. It doesn’t seem very much now, but, in the day it was a deal breaker. The first ringtone I ever programmed in to mine was the main riff from ‘Dead end kids’ by Norways finest, Beezewax, it sounded great and gave me immense pleasure. If you’ve heard the song then you’ll know why, it is pure indiemo pop at its greatest and this isn’t even their best song.

61 – Death Cab For Cutie – A Movie Script Ending

If 1991 was the year that punk broke, then 2002 was the year that emo broke. I’m basing this on by the fact the Reading festival that year was an emo boy’s dream come true and has to be one of the best weekends of my life. But I will always regret one thing, I forgot to go and see Death Cab For Cutie. They were first on in the NME tent on the sunday and I just plain forgot to go and see them. At the time I was ok about it but now the album they were touring at the time ‘The Photo Album’ is one of my favourite records. I kick myself to think I could have been standing mere feet away from Ben Gibbard et all playing this gorgeous song on a sunny sunday afternoon. Oh well, nevermind, I can still listen to the song and pretend I was there, and it’s a pretty damn good song.

Again, thanks for reading. I’m loving all the comments and the fact people are sharing this list is blowing my mind. Big cheers all round. Next 10 songs to be posted very soon x

UPDATE!! The next part (60-51) can be viewed HERE

I’ve updated the spotify playlist as best I can, click the link below for that.

Emo 100 (100-61)

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