Tag Archives: The promise ring

INTERVIEW: TOM MULLEN – WASHED UP EMO PODCAST

Last week I got to speak to Tom Mullen who runs Washedupemo.com and does the Washed Up Emo podcast. I love a good podcast and Washed Up Emo is by far my favourite one. I think that if you like the sort of stuff that I write about then you’re going to feel the same way. He also hosts an emo DJ night in New York city every month. I had a few questions prepared but we ended up just chatting away about the podcast/site and all things ‘mo. It’s quite a long one, hope you enjoy!

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IS THIS THING ON? – Hello

TOM MULLEN– What’s up Alex?

ITTO? – Hey!! Give us a brief background about how you got in to music and when emo became a big part of that?

TM – I got into music pretty early on as a kid, I wanted to play guitar after seeing smells like teen spirit on TV. I think I remember telling my dad ‘we’re going to the store right now to get this’. And that was a pretty big influence on me playing music, you know, and he, Kurt, was in to a lot of different bands, indie bands and things. Probably what turned me from grunge was a band called Helmet. I saw their video and was like ‘this is heavy but it is smart’ and then from there I started to learn about more hardcore bands and metal bands. Growing up where I did in Vermont you don’t really get to see the big artists, like I didn’t get to see giant top 40 artists, those guys never came through. So the people that came through were the metal bands and HC bands from Boston and New York. So from hardcore, turned into post hardcore, because that’s kinda what bands did after that and then that turned into emo. I don’t know if it was Get Up Kids or Mineral or one of those bands but it really kicked in freshman year in college, that’s when I started to really get into it and there were so many shows. I went to school in North Carolina and there were shows every day it seemed. And so that was a really fun time.

ITTO? – Did you know that was what it was when you were getting in to it, did you know it was called emo or was that a thing then?

TM – Yes, someone had called it that. And I was like ‘oh ok cool’, I mean I liked the music. There wasn’t a fashion around it, there wasn’t like you needed to look a certain way. I was wearing ridiculously way too big sweatshirts and shirts, I was horrendous. It wasn’t that thing; it was more about the music.

ITTO? – It’s interesting on the podcast that when you ask about how they got into that kind of music it’s usually a HC route.

TM – Yeah, it’s either HC or they came the indie route with Fugazi or they were into Buffalo tom or whatever it was. They went both ways and if you listen to them again after hearing that you totally get it. It’s interesting to hear where they came from and if it’s HC then you’re like ‘ah ok I get it’.

ITTO? – What was the reason for starting the washed up emo website?

The website came first; I was super angry, probably ‘04/’05. Just really upset at what was happening with the name itself and being attached to it and turning it in to sort of a fashion statement vs. something about the music. They were referencing things that didn’t really make sense to me. And that’s since changed but then I was like; ‘no one’s talking about Elliott, no one’s talking about Get Up Kids and at this time, these bands, some of them were still going on, still trying to hang on to the certain fan base that was there but it was dwindling because they weren’t as flashy. You went to Bamboozle, which is this big music festival in New Jersey and Fall Out Boy or whoever it was was playing. And people were losing their minds and gave support to whatever god awful band it was playing and the Get Up Kids would play after them and the bands were psyched but the crowd was like ‘who is this? This is boring’ and it was just this kind of turning point when I was like this word is being ruined on a daily basis and that’s why I started the site in ’07. It was very negative early on, I look back at some of the posts, it was discrediting a lot of things because people were relating cutting to this genre. It was sort of Goth and it was a lot of whack-a-mole with trying to explain it. And through the years it’s slowly kind of, I’ve got less angry.

ITTO? – The tagline of your website says that you wish for the days where you’d type emo into a search engine and nothing would come up, is that because you’d wish it would all go away

TM – Everyone has this same sort of feeling that it was special, for what it was. And because there wasn’t internet or it wasn’t really widespread, you didn’t have it on your phone. You didn’t have a cell phone, you had a beeper. You had these sorts of connections happen where you had to connect, you had to go to the show, and you had to do a little work. And I think every sort of genre past that, it’s sort of that doesn’t happen anymore. It’s so quick and easy so I did like it when I would search for bands and I couldn’t find anything. I couldn’t find anything online for it and that was sort of fun because you did have to work.

ITTO? – It’s weird because if you look at the old records from that time, or the catalogues that used to come with the insert and they’ve all got email addresses and websites and I never married the two together. I wasn’t big into the internet at the end of the 90’s but I guess there must’ve been something there if you looked hard enough.

TM – Yeah they had their email there. It was aol or yahoo or something stupid and the websites were very basic. There wasn’t a lot. If I could go back I would take every programming class I could because I only knew basic html and I actually got connected with a band and a label because I started doing an unofficial website for artists. Because when artists didn’t really have good websites fans did them and I did that for a band and that connected me to a lot of different people as well.

ITTO? – Basic chat rooms are all I can remember using. A couple of message boards like Fracture fanzine had one where you could communicate with people but that was only really at the end of that particular wave of emo that we liked

TM – I think the Victory records message board and the trustkill message board that was definitely a way to find out about shows. And find out what was happening.

ITTO? – After starting the website did you find that there were a lot of likeminded people or is that something that has happened over time?

TM – It’s happened over time. There were some years where it would be a couple of posts a month, a few things happening. And I didn’t really know anybody else that was talking about this and slowly I would get people who would say ‘oh I saw that thing, it was really cool, and I feel the same way’ and I was like ‘Really?’ And it’s ended up being these last couple of years I think that I’ve been finding that there’s a lot of people I’ve met, yourself included, through twitter and Facebook ramping up those parts of it. And really focussing on that and having people interact. And I don’t make any money I just do this because it’s fun and people really enjoy it. And of course it’s turned into the podcast. And the dj night every month.

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ITTO? – When did the idea for a DJ night and then a podcast come about?

TM – It’s interesting that I remember this, I think we were on a train or something and I was emailing friends and I posted I was listening to a camber song on, I think it was, twitter or Facebook and I had tagged it and someone wrote that’s really awesome, you have a ton of records like that and I said well you do too, we should dj somewhere. A friend had a bar and we’re like let’s see if he’ll let us do it on a valentine’s day for an anti-valentine’s day event and ended up going really well. We kind of just put our minds together on who could help dj because I’m not cool enough to have people show up, I can only beg my friends so much so we needed bands and things and we’ve ended up doing, next month will be 2 years. And we’re the bars most successful theme night and we’ve had after parties for Braid who actually dj’d which was really funny because I had to kick them out. Chris did not wanna stop dj-ing it was hilarious; it was 4am on a Thursday I was like ‘dude I gotta get outta here’. The dj thing is really fun and we’ve met so many people that have been in this city and find out about it and come down and hang out. I’ve met some friends that I’ve ended up working with on a work level, they’re people who’ve worked at different labels or companies and I find out that they’re in to this genre. Case in point, a friend from a blog is a graphic designer and was a super big fan and I had her design the logo.

The podcast was a few months in, I realised that I was looking at my rolodex and was like I kinda know a bunch of people and it would be kinda fun. And I had a friend that I did it with for a while and it was tough because he was on the west coast and I was on the east coast and the band was wherever they were and it was hard to connect and he ended up doing his own thing. And I ended up just continuing with the washed up emo podcast

ITTO? – That’s Ray right?

TM – Yes, Ray.

ITTO? – Yeah I was going to ask what happened to Ray.

It was so hard, just a scheduling thing. He has a lot of stuff; he has a kid, his jobs all over the place. He’s got a lot of stuff going on, the 3 hours’ time difference made it hard to connect. And that’s where we splintered off and he does his own ‘100 words or less podcast’.

ITTO? – Yes, I’ve listened to a few. He interviewed Keith from Empire! Empire! / CYLS records which was a really good one

TM – Nice! I actually give him crap for interviewing emo people but that’s just a joke. It’s been fun, it is a ton of work but I’ve been able to connect to a lot of people and a lot of people have helped. Someone helped get me in touch with Jim adkins; another friend helped me get in touch with Chris Simpson from Mineral. They’ve been very very cool, Matt Pryor was awesome, those early ones like with Chuck from Deep Elm, and it was great to talk about deep elm records who were a huge influence. I was on one of their comps with the band I was in. It’s been nice. Blair (Shehan, Knapsack) when I interviewed him his first thing was, my first question and he was like ‘wow, this is going to be fun’. That’s the first thing he said and I think they’ve never been asked these questions before because no one’s really asked about it this way.

ITTO? – It’s becoming an incredible document for that time period

TM – Well that’s exactly the idea with it, I had spoken with a few people before I started and said is there anything out there like this? Am I copying it? Is it something that’s worth? And the only thing I could find was those oral histories from alternative press magazine where they interview 10 or 15 people about the project and they end up discussing things but there wasn’t really an audio history or an audio document of these things. Hopefully if its ten years from now and some person looks back and they’re like ‘I kinda wanna know what’s going on with the guy from deep elm’ then there’s an hour of me nerding out with him (laughs)

ITTO? – I take it you’ve had your dream guests on already?

TM – As of a couple of weeks ago, yes! I’ve been very, very lucky to have; I think, the biggest one left for me at this moment would definitely be Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate that would be a great one. But there’s still plenty, I actually was just looking at the list of people that I’m trying to get and there is still some really, really cool people like I’m trying to get Travis from Piebald which I think is going to happen, Kevin from Topshelf, Ben from Armor For Sleep, the guy that ran Caulfield records. So, yeah, I think there’s still plenty more and I think there’s plenty more stories to tell. As long as I have fun doing it and people are still downloading them, I’ll still do them.

ITTO? – To think you’ve had The Promise Ring/ Braid/ Mineral do it then you think it might be hard to top that but some of the more obscure bands will be interesting because it’s harder to find things out about them.

TM – I think one of the most popular episodes is the Buried Treasure episode with Ray. We talked about obscure bands and songs people may not have heard, that one was really popular and to have Christie Front Drive – Eric do it and Promise Ring its really easy now to get people to do it. Jim (Adkins) had mentioned that he had listened to a bunch of the older ones before, you know so He was even interested in hearing them which blew my mind. ‘You spent time listening to me nerd out??’ I’m now really scared to talk to you’.

ITTO? – It makes sense, they were his friends, and these were times he was involved in. It’s like if you see an old friend you’ve not spoken to in a long time and you reminisce it’s probably a form of that for him.

TM – Yeah, he was mentioning that he was laughing at Eric because Eric made fun of him in the podcast about his long hair so he’s actually looking forward to doing one with him to make fun of him. There are still those memories and things. But just looking back at list at who’s done it, Zach from Mae who was a close friend, Troy from Speedwell which was this really obscure band who I think are amazing, Blair from Jealous Sound who was super cool to do it. The one I can’t wait to edit but its taking forever is Pedro from Jealous Sound and I’ve never laughed more in a podcast. I was crying laughing with him, he’s been super nice. He understood what I was doing, he’s like ‘you’re not just a fan; you’re trying to get the word out about this time period’. When AV Club wrote about the podcast which I had no idea about, they kind of mentioned the same thing. They had said that it was that he’s coming at it as a fan, a knowledgeable fan and you’re kind of talking, you’re not just ‘hey remember in 1992 when this happened’ and that was probably the biggest compliment.

ITTO? – Do you feel that people really are talking about it (emo) now? With the podcast and all the new bands that are about now it does seem so and it also seems a lot now like it did at the end of the 90’s, although in more of a weird internet way but there seems to be that same kind of feeling about now

It does, I think it is 2013 with all the new ways to connect. You can easily find out about a label in 5 seconds and all the releases and listen to everything. I think it is exciting; there are a lot of great bands. That’s probably the next thing, I really want to have more of the newer bands and hear their story and hear what they listen to and why. That’s kind of the new and old which has been really fun to talk about. Even during the DJ night it’s one thing to play all the old school hits but it’s also great to play a new song and have people come up to say ‘what was that?’ And you tell them it’s a new band and they’re like ‘Oh man!’ and I think that’s great to hear that someone’s open enough to listen that and be excited.

ITTO? – Especially now as there’s been bands in the last few years that have made a great impression but split up already, like Snowing or Algernon Cadwallader and I think in a few years’ time we’ll think of them like we did caP’n jazz/Mineral. It’ll be great to hear their version of what happened

TM – Yeah and I think the word itself has been so overused and I think there’s people that come to the dj night and they’re like ‘hey I want you to play Acceptance and then I want you to play Rufio’ and I’m like ‘oh my god I know your age, I know what time period you’re in. I almost can tell where you live’ Just because of the songs that you’re asking for and its fine. I understand, because it’s that time period when they were 15, 16, 17 or whatever and they connected to it or they watched Fuse and they’re relating that and that’s fine, it’s just there’s this little point beforehand that you need to know about. Because all the bands you like they listen to this. And it’s great that the newer bands are skipping that and they’re going back further.

ITTO? – What’s the most requested band at your DJ nights?

TM – I would probably say Brand New, that’s every month. The usual Promise ring, Get up kids, Taking back Sunday. Probably Taking back Sunday and Brand New and that’s probably because it’s the New York area. One of the loudest ones we ever played, which wasn’t really an emo band but it kinda made sense because Get Up Kids toured with them, was Weezer. The guy came over who runs the bar and said ‘We can’t even hear the music’ because people were screaming so loud.

ITTO? – Excellent, it’s been so cool chatting to you Tom, thanks so much.

wuemo

My Top 5 Washed up emo podcast episodes (click on them for the link)

5 – Norman Brannon of Texas is the Reason

4 – Davey Von Bohlen and Dan Didier of The Promise Ring

3 – Eric Richter of Christie Front Drive

2 – Chuck Daley of Deep Elm/Tiny Engines

1 – Chris Simpson of Mineral

Thanks so much for reading.

Come and say hi on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog

or Twitter – @alex_itto

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Review: Dikembe – Broad Shoulders

Band – Dikembe

Album – Broad Shoulders

Label – Tiny Engines

I wonder, every so often, which albums out of this new wave of emo will stand the test of time. I feel as excited right now as I ever did about this kind of music and, like all good things, I don’t want it to end but one day it will and what will we be left with? When the world moved on to whatever it was that it moved on to before, I was still listening to Appleseed Cast or The Promise Ring on a very regular basis. So, what will be the records that stay with me when the scene no doubt falls apart like it did back then? Well I can say with a very certain amount of confidence that ‘Broad Shoulders’ by Dikembe will be one of those records. I don’t know if it’s right or not but I have only had the record for a few weeks and I’m already holding it in the same esteem as ’30 degrees everywhere’ and ‘Mare Vitalis’, or, to translate that for you IT IS REALLY REALLY FUCKING GOOD!

Since the release of their debut ep last year, the amazing 4 track ‘Chicago Bowls’ there has been much anticipation for Dikembe to deliver a full length record. They’ve taken a fair amount of time for it to get here, enough time for people on the internet to refer to it as the ’emo chinese democracy’ (which I think is to do with the amount of time it’s taken the record to come out rather than they have a guitar player who wears a KFC bucket as a hat, unless I’m missing something here). In fact it hasn’t been that long, it may seem like it just because you want it to come out so much and they’ve done well to take this time over it because what Dikembe have delivered here is a modern emo masterpiece.

Everything about this record just feels so right, the to the point indie production, the gorgeous guitar sounds, the perfect pacing of the songs where nothing feels rushed or hurried, just naturally brilliant. I read that singer Steven Gray said the theme of the record is growing up and you do see that throughout the record. on the Wavelets LP ‘Athaletics’ (his other band) he sang “I’m not mad I’m just fucking stressed out”, here on ‘Apology not fucking accepted’ he sings “I’m so mad I can’t fucking see straight”. Maybe he sees things different now as part of growing up or maybe those two are nothing to do with each other and no comparison should be drawn but either way they are 2 great moments of each record.

And great moments keep coming on ‘Broad shoulder’, like the chugging groove laid out at that start of ‘I watch a lot of Jackie Chan movies’ which turns in to perhaps the best song on the album. The album is equally as good in its more uptempo parts such as ‘We become river rats’ and ‘Librarians kill for that kind of quiet’ as it is in its quieter songs like the beautifully downbeat ‘Not today, angel’. By the end the album leaves you with a feeling of total contentment, this is what we’ve been waiting for and now this is what has been delivered to us, to put it a simpler way it’s like a having a perfect christmas. All the build up was overwhelmingly worthwhile.

The thing is with a revival of a sound, there are those bands that will do well by imitating what was there before and just bringing in to the current day and there are those that just get it. Dikembe are a band that just get it, this is the type of music they play because when they get together this is what comes out rather than thinking beforehand “hey, lets write a song that sounds like those guys”. They are a timeless emo band, one that has reaffirmed my love for this music for which I’ll be forever grateful. Cheers dudes.

Click HERE to go to the Tiny Engines bandcamp to download/stream the record.

Cheers again for reading xx

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THE ‘IS THIS THING ON?’ TOP 100 EMO SONGS OF ALL TIME PART 10!! (10-1)

#emo100

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

To read more about these songs (100-91) click HERE

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

To read more about these songs (90-81) click HERE

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 songs (80-71) click HERE

70 – Knapsack – Cellophane

69 – Elliott – Dionysus Burning

68 – The Lapse – We Must Move Backwards To Progress

67 – Owls – Everyone Is My Friend

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

65 – Sunday’s Best – Winter Owned

64 – CSTVT – Hiccups

63 – Vitreous Humor – Sharin’ Stone

62 – Beezewax – Dead End Kids

61 – Death Cab For Cutie – A Movie Script Ending

To read more about these songs (70-61) click HERE

60 – Grown Ups – Three Day Weekend

59 – Funeral Diner – We Become Buried

58 – Snowing – I Think We’re In Minsk

57 – Imbroco – You’re My Lionkiller

56 – Maritime – Tearing Up The Oxygen

55 – Engine Down – The Offer Of Something

54 – Boy’s Life – Sight Unseen

53 – Benton Falls – All These Things

52 – Further Seems Forever – Madison Prep

51 – The Casket Lottery – Ever Since Sulfur

To read more about these songs (60-51) click HERE

50 – Ghosts And Vodka – Sex Is Popular

49 – Transit – Footwork

48 – Jejune – Solar

47 – Hey Mercedes – Quality Revenge At Last

46 – Jeremy Enigk – Lewis Hollow

45 – Cursive – The Radiator Hums

44 – Joan Of Arc – Post Coitus Rock

43 – Pianos Become The Teeth – Cripples Can’t Shiver

42 – The Get Up Kids – Coming Clean

41 – At The Drive-In – Heliotrope

To read more about these songs (50-41) click HERE

40 – Owen – O, Evelyn..

39 – This Beautiful Mess – Don’t Go There

38 – Rites Of Spring – Remainder

37 – Rainer Maria – Artificial Light

36 – Sunny Day Real Estate – Theo B

35 – The Gloria Record – Grace The Snow Is Here

34 – Saves The Day – Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots

33 – Penfold – M

32 – The Promise Ring – A Picture Postcard

31 – Mineral – If I Could

To read more about these songs (40-31) click HERE

30 – Sense Field – Building

29 – Death Cab For Cutie – The Ice Is Getting Thinner

28 – Dashboard Confessional – Turpentine Chaser

27 – Beezewax – The Snooze Is On

26 – The Anniversary – All Things Ordinary

25 – Dismemberment Plan – What Did You Want Me To Say?

24 – The Appleseed Cast – Forever Longing The Golden Sun

23 – Far – Really Here

22 – Pop Unknown – Half Of Ninety

21 – Hot Water Music – Remedy

To read more about these songs (30-21) click HERE

20 – Thursday – Cross Out The Eyes

19 – Jimmy Eat World – Goodbye Sky Harbor

18 – Algernon Cadwallader – Some Kind Of Cadwallader

17 – Christie Front Drive – Radio

16 – The Promise Ring – Red & Blue Jeans

15 – Reiziger – Waiting day

14 – Cross My Heart – It Doesn’t Take That Many Pills To Sleep Forever

13 – The Van Pelt – Speeding Train

12 – Texas Is The Reason – The Magic Bullet Theory

11 – Planes Mistaken For Stars – Copper And Stars

To read more about these songs (20-11) click HERE

10 – Braid – The New Nathan Detroits

Every time I used to make a mixtape for myself or a friend this would always be the first track I’d put on. It’s the ultimate opener, a big catchy brilliant emo blast. It opens their classic album, ‘Frame and Canvas’, and sets the tone for the rest of the record. Braid are a legendary band, they maybe didn’t get the plaudits they thoroughly deserved when emo first broke big but I like to think that has changed since. Especially as they have returned with new music in recent times.

9 – Jimmy Eat World – No Sensitivity

Despite making some of my favourite albums packed with great songs, my favourite Jimmy Eat World song is taken from the split they did with Jebediah. ‘No Sensitivity’ is a great showcase of Jimmy Eat World doing what they do best, making incredibly likeable emo rock songs with killer choruses. This is always a favourite when they play live and somehow I’ve managed to see Jimmy Eat World play 7 times, every time a pleasure.

8 – Spy Versus Spy – Helpless, Sign In Please

Out of all the bands in the UK emo scene in the late 90’s, Spy Versus Spy was the band we held in the highest regard, to me they were like our Cap’n Jazz. There was just something about them that set them apart from the rest of us, while there were plenty of good bands about in those days Spy Versus Spy were always the band I thought I would love forever. And more than 10 years later I still do so maybe that will be true. Their first mini album is still my favourite although they did go on to make the fantastically brilliant album ‘Little Lights’ which you should stop at nothing to get hold of.

7 – The Get Up Kids – I’m A Loner Dottie, A Rebel

Getting to see the Get Up Kids while they were touring in support of ‘Something to write home about’ is still one of the best live experiences I’ve ever had. I got to see them play a few times again but nothing will beat that first time, there was just so much energy and fun surrounding their performance that night. Without the slower songs that filled ‘On a wire’ the show zipped along with the band seeming to have the time of their lives, which in turn meant that we were having the time of our lives. ‘I’m a loner dottie …’ is a classic amongst an album full of classics.

6 – Sunny Day Real Estate – In Circles
 I have always loved this song since the first time I heard it all those years ago, but since their reunion show 2 years ago it has seemed even more special. I had tickets to see them play London in 2001, the show got cancelled because of something to do with their booking agents and then the band split up for the 2nd time. I was gutted and thought I’d never get to see this very special band play live. But, years later it was announced they were going to play a one off reunion show in London, excitedly I snapped up tickets only for that show to get cancelled because of the volcanic ash cloud. They did reschedule however and managed to play and the reaction was incredible. When they launched into ‘In Circles’ the excitement in the crowd was palpable and the noise deafening. Guitarist Dan Hoerner looked blown away by this and seeing his reaction made this amazing song even more so.

5 – The Promise Ring – E. Texas Ave
This song is Taken from probably the greatest split 7 inch ever released. The Texas is the reason song on the other side is fantastic, the artwork equally so but it’s the Promise Ring song that makes it truly great. Weirdly my favourite Promise Ring song is the Promise Ring song that sounds least like a Promise Ring song. It’s a lot heavier than they usually are and a lot darker. But it still sounds uniquely like the Promise Ring with Davey Von Bohlen unmistakeable voice sounding better than ever.

4 – Cap’n Jazz – Little League

 Iconic, influential and downright briliant, Cap’n Jazz created a sound that would go on to be copied many times over. ‘Little League’ is a song I can never grow tired of listening too, It’s energy is completely infectious. The way the song sounds out of control and all over the place is its charm. It breaks down, it builds up, it screams at you and makes you want to get up and throw yourself about like a crazy person. Absolute genius.

3 – The Appleseed Cast – Marigold And Patchwork

 One of the best shows I ever got to attend was when my old band supported The Appleseed Cast the first time they played in Margate. At the time they had only released their debut album, ‘End of the ring wars’, but to us they were massive and we were totally excited to have them play in our small town. They seemed really touched by the reaction they got that night and told us that when we sang along to ‘Marigold and patchwork’ it was one of the first times that that had happened to them. They must’ve liked it here because they came back to play twice more. ‘Marigold and patchwork’ will always remind me of a special time when music was the most exciting thing in my world and will forever be one of my favourite songs. You can download this song for free, see below for details.

2 – American Football – Never Meant

 It’s amazing how some of the most influential and incredible music that came from the emo genre was from bands with short existences and limited output. I know Mike Kinsella has been very prolific in his output in various guises, but American Football had one album and one EP yet remain one of the best emo bands of all time. ‘Never meant’ is beautiful, it’s simple yet complicated at the same time and makes me fall in love each and every time I hear it. It’s the perfect song to do that old emo dance to, you know the one where you put your hands in your pockets and gently sway back and forth with your eyes closed? No? Just me then.

1! – Mineral – &Serenading

 I have said for many years that this is the best emo song of all time. If I have said that to you then I’m sorry for the advance spoiler and apologise for the anti-climax to this list. It’s not just my favourite emo song of all time, it is in fact my favourite song of all time. If anyone mentions emo then Mineral is always the first band that jumps to mind, to me they are THE emo band. ‘EndSerenading’ is a beautiful album, Mineral made music so open and emotional that it shouldn’t work but it does work incredibly so. ‘&serenading’ is the penultimate song from that album, it is heart breakingly gorgeous in every way, lyrically and musically. The ending is just perfect, it builds up with repetitive vocals that harmonize at the right moment to elevate the song into the most beautiful of end riffs. Pure brilliant genius!!!!!

That’s it, the list is done.

FREE MUSIC!!! To celebrate ‘Is this thing on?’ has teamed up with the influential and legendary emo label, Deep Elm, to bring you a free 12 track download sampler featuring every Deep Elm song on the list. That includes music by The Appleseed Cast, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Cross My Heart, Pop Unknown, Benton Falls and many more. Click the link below to go there and download it.

http://deepelmdigital.com/album/deep-elm-is-this-thing-on

Also, while you’re there you can check out the infamous 12 volume Emo Diaries compilation series featuring 147 unreleased tracks by Jimmy Eat World, The Appleseed Cast, This Drama, Further Seems Forever (featuring Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional), Planes Mistaken For Stars, The Movielife, Samiam and many more. Download the lot for $29!!

Here is the link:  http://deepelm.com/emodiaries/

Thank you so much for reading. It has been an unforgettable few weeks sharing this list with you and I want to thank everyone that has read/shared/retweeted/commented etc.. It’s great to know that this music still means a hell of a lot to a lot of people. Feel free to share this and let me know what you think, whether you agree or totally disagree either on here or on twitter (@alex_itto)

Now have a facebook page for the blog too, come and say hi www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog

I have updated the spotify playlist, click the link below for that.

Emo 100 (100-1)

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THE ‘IS THIS THING ON?’ TOP 100 EMO SONGS OF ALL TIME PART 9 (20-11)

#emo100

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

70 – Knapsack – Cellophane

69 – Elliott – Dionysus Burning

68 – The Lapse – We Must Move Backwards To Progress

67 – Owls – Everyone Is My Friend

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

65 – Sunday’s Best – Winter Owned

64 – CSTVT – Hiccups

63 – Vitreous Humor – Sharin’ Stone

62 – Beezewax – Dead End Kids

61 – Death Cab For Cutie – A Movie Script Ending

60 – Grown Ups – Three Day Weekend

59 – Funeral Diner – We Become Buried

58 – Snowing – I Think We’re In Minsk

57 – Imbroco – You’re My Lionkiller

56 – Maritime – Tearing Up The Oxygen

55 – Engine Down – The Offer Of Something

54 – Boy’s Life – Sight Unseen

53 – Benton Falls – All These Things

52 – Further Seems Forever – Madison Prep

51 – The Casket Lottery – Ever Since Sulfur

50 – Ghosts And Vodka – Sex Is Popular

49 – Transit – Footwork

48 – Jejune – Solar

47 – Hey Mercedes – Quality Revenge At Last

46 – Jeremy Enigk – Lewis Hollow

45 – Cursive – The Radiator Hums

44 – Joan Of Arc – Post Coitus Rock

43 – Pianos Become The Teeth – Cripples Can’t Shiver

42 – The Get Up Kids – Coming Clean

41 – At The Drive-In – Heliotrope

40 – Owen – O, Evelyn..

39 – This Beautiful Mess – Don’t Go There

38 – Rites Of Spring – Remainder

37 – Rainer Maria – Artificial Light

36 – Sunny Day Real Estate – Theo B

35 – The Gloria Record – Grace The Snow Is Here

34 – Saves The Day – Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots

33 – Penfold – M

32 – The Promise Ring – A Picture Postcard

31 – Mineral – If I Could

30 – Sense Field – Building

29 – Death Cab For Cutie – The Ice Is Getting Thinner

28 – Dashboard Confessional – Turpentine Chaser

27 – Beezewax – The Snooze Is On

26 – The Anniversary – All Things Ordinary

25 – Dismemberment Plan – What Did You Want Me To Say?

24 – The Appleseed Cast – Forever Longing The Golden Sun

23 – Far – Really Here

22 – Pop Unknown – Half Of Ninety

21 – Hot Water Music – Remedy

To read more about these tracks click HERE for numbers 100-91, HERE for no’s 90-81, HERE for no’s 80-71, HERE for no’s 70-61, HERE for no’s 60-51, HERE for no’s 50-41, HERE for 40-31, HERE for 30-21. And for some background as to why I’m doing this list click HERE

20 – Thursday – Cross Out The Eyes

 The first time I got to see Thursday play I stood there slack jawed as I was being completely blown away, it was quite early on the Saturday of the 2002 Reading festival and no other band had such an impact on me that weekend. ‘Full Collapse’ is now a classic album and ‘Cross out the eyes’ has long been my favourite song from the record, it captures all the energy from their live show and packages it nicely into 4 minutes of post hardcore greatness.

19 – Jimmy Eat World – Goodbye Sky Harbor

 Hearing ‘Clarity’ for the first time was a bit like hearing ‘Nevermind’ for the first time. An album so unbelievably brilliant that it’s bound to change everything, except that it didn’t. Jimmy Eat World obviously went on to be huge but for a while they seemed to be our best kept secret. I bought ‘Clarity’ on double blue vinyl at a Hot Water Music all dayer at the Garage in London from a distro run by the drummer from Spy vs Spy (geek points!!) and cherish it to this day. My wife walked down the aisle at our wedding to ‘For me this is heaven’! But it’s the epic 16 plus minutes of ‘Goodbye Sky Harbor’ that I love the most, I may be in a minority but I could go on listening to that end riff on repeat and never get bored. Genius.

18 – Algernon Cadwallader – Some Kind Of Cadwallader

 This band completely reaffirmed my love for music with this song, I had been in a bit of a lull a couple of years back and then downloaded this at the recommendation of a friend and it was like a slap in the face. A good slap, the best kind. It woke me up from my slumber and proved that bands around today can be just as amazingly brilliant as bands 10 or 15 years ago, I went on to find that there were many incredible new bands out there but you’ll be hard pressed to find any better than Algernon Cadwallader. ‘Some kind of Cadwallader’ is the kind of song that you simply have to listen to again several times in a row. If you have never heard it go and listen to it now, trust me on this one.

17 – Christie Front Drive – Radio

 Christie Front Drive were quite short lived but also hugely influential, just listening to this song ‘Radio’ you can hear why. You can also hear a sound that had been taken and copied/built upon by a ton of other bands. ‘Radio’ is taken from their only proper album, which is called either ‘Stereo’ or is self titled, most of their other releases were splits with other bands or as part of compilation albums. Classic mid west emo.

16 – The Promise Ring – Red & Blue Jeans

 You can’t call your blog ‘Is this thing on?’ and not give away the fact that you’re a massive Promise Ring fan. Although it is a different song from the legendary ‘Nothing Feels Good’ album that gives me goosebumps every time I listen. They played ‘Red & blue jeans’ the one time I got to see them live and the experience was bittersweet. On the one hand I was getting to see one of my all time favourite bands playing one of my favourite songs, on the other I was stood in Brixton Academy surrounded by 6000 15/16 year olds who didn’t give a toss as to who they were. They were supporting Jimmy Eat World who were riding high on the success of ‘Bleed American’ and the kids who were there had come because of that, I was amazed at the time of the limp crowd reaction to the Promise Ring. I hope that they had noticed me going nuts in the middle of the crowd and I hope that they decide to come back to the UK as part of their current reunion.

15 – Reiziger – Waitingsday

 Some record sleeves can take you instantly take you back to a special time in your life. One look at the cover of ‘Our Kodo’ by Reiziger takes me instantly back to the late 90’s with many hours spent listening/writing/talking about music in my friend Paul’s flat. ‘Waitingsday’ is the first track from that album and it is infectiously brilliant, so good that we even tried ripping off the opening shout of “Today” in my last band, The Boss. We didn’t do it any kind of justice and we should have just left it to the pro’s. Essential euro emo-core, I think/hope Reiziger are making a come back, fingers crossed.

14 – Cross My Heart – It Doesn’t Take That Many Pills To Sleep Forever

 I first heard about Cross My Heart while on a UK tour with fellow English emo band Rydell in 1999 and simply asked them the question as to what they were currently listening to and what they’d recommend. They said the best thing they had heard recently was the self titled 7 track mini album by Cross My Heart and said I should check it out. I did and was instantly in agreement with how great it was. Track 2 ‘It doesn’t take that many pills to sleep forever’ has all the bits you need to make an incredible emo song, the quiet intro with twinkly guitars, the chuggy rocking pre chorus in to the actual rocking of the chorus and screaming at the end, plus it has as emo a song title as you’re likely to find on this whole list.

13 – The Van Pelt – The Speeding Train

 This is one of the first songs I thought of when compiling this list, The Van Pelt were and still are one of the most original and individual of all the emo bands. Another song I’m sure we tried to rip off in some way or another in a previous band, ‘The Speeding Train’ takes all the bands best qualities and compiles them in to one hell of a song. The half spoken/half sung vocal style of Chris Leo with his thoughtful lyrics combines beautifully with the indie art rock backing of the band. The repetitive drum beat and the totally uplifting guitar melody of the chorus combine to outstanding effect. Absolutely love it.

12 – Texas Is The Reason – The Magic Bullet Theory

 Another band that was far too short lived, Texas is the reason still remain a much loved band today. Although they have just an EP, a couple of split singles and one full length album to their name their legacy and influence continues on. ‘The magic bullet theory’ is just one of the many fantastic songs from the classic ‘Do you know who you are?’ album. They laid down a blue print for how amazing post hardcore emo bands could be and split before they signed to a major label and ruined it all. Nice

11 – Planes Mistaken For Stars – Copper And Stars

 Back when they were angsty, powerful and melodic before moving on to being less melodic and more of just the other 2, Planes Mistaken For Stars totally blew me away with their self titled debut. ‘Copper and stars’ is your new favourite song after your first listen to it, an amazing intro paves the way for the muted guitar of the verse which with it brings the incredible voice of Gared O’Donnell. The song is just genius from then on, the chorus takes off and takes you with it and before you know it the ending is bringing you to your knee’s with it’s tender beauty. PMFS were booked to play Margate and had to cancel on the day leaving a lot of people completely bummed out, I wish I could have seen them live because I imagine it was an unbelievable experience.

Thanks again for reading this, the response so far has been overwhelming and please continue to share your thoughts with me either here or on twitter (@alex_itto). We’re nearly there, the top 10 will be posted very soon. Cheers x

I have updated the spotify playlist, click the link below to go there!!

Emo 100 (100-11)

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THE ‘IS THIS THING ON?’ TOP 100 EMO SONGS OF ALL TIME PART 7 (40-31)

#emo100

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

70 – Knapsack – Cellophane

69 – Elliott – Dionysus Burning

68 – The Lapse – We Must Move Backwards To Progress

67 – Owls – Everyone Is My Friend

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

65 – Sunday’s Best – Winter Owned

64 – CSTVT – Hiccups

63 – Vitreous Humor – Sharin’ Stone

62 – Beezewax – Dead End Kids

61 – Death Cab For Cutie – A Movie Script Ending

60 – Grown Ups – Three Day Weekend

59 – Funeral Diner – We Become Buried

58 – Snowing – I Think We’re In Minsk

57 – Imbroco – You’re My Lionkiller

56 – Maritime – Tearing Up The Oxygen

55 – Engine Down – The Offer Of Something

54 – Boy’s Life – Sight Unseen

53 – Benton Falls – All These Things

52 – Further Seems Forever – Madison Prep

51 – The Casket Lottery – Ever Since Sulfur

50 – Ghosts And Vodka – Sex Is Popular

49 – Transit – Footwork

48 – Jejune – Solar

47 – Hey Mercedes – Quality Revenge At Last

46 – Jeremy Enigk – Lewis Hollow

45 – Cursive – The Radiator Hums

44 – Joan Of Arc – Post Coitus Rock

43 – Pianos Become The Teeth – Cripples Can’t Shiver

42 – The Get Up Kids – Coming Clean

41 – At The Drive-In – Heliotrope

To read more about these tracks click HERE for numbers 100-91, HERE for no’s 90-81, HERE for no’s 80-71, HERE for no’s 70-61, HERE for no’s 60-51, HERE for no’s 50-41. And for some background as to why I’m doing this list click HERE

40 – Owen – O, Evelyn

Mike Kinsella’s contribution to the genre is unrivalled and his output as ‘Owen’ has been prolific. But It’s on his latest record, ‘Ghost Town’, that you’ll find my favourite song he’s put out as Owen. You can’t have a top 100 emo songs without having some proper love songs and ‘O, Evelyn’ is a proper good love song, one which I fell in love with on my first listen. Gorgeous!!

39 – This Beautiful Mess – Don’t Go There

‘Temper the wind to the shorn lamb’ by This Beautiful Mess is a really great album full of beautifully sombre indie rock. ‘Don’t go there’ should be a hit song because it has all the right ingredients, infectious catchy verses make way for an even more killer chorus and then this all leads into a middle eight of perfectly twinkly guitars. This was another band we were lucky enough to have play in Margate. Well worth checking out.

38 – Rites Of Spring – Remainder

File:Rites of Springalbum.jpgGuy Picciotto is an unmistakeable presence in music. I obviously never got to see Rites Of Spring play live, only a handful of people did and I was only 5 when they were about and more interested in playing with my Dukes Of Hazzard pedal car, but I did see Fugazi play twice, in 1999 and 2002. His stage presence, charm and energy then were phenomenal, this still comes across too when you listen to Rites Of Spring. ‘Remainder’ is a blistering, influential and above all awesome song.

37 – Rainer Maria – Artificial Light

How could you listen to this song and not fall in love? It draws you in from the very first stroke of the effects laden guitars and hugs you close with it’s sumptuous vocals. The perfect way to open an album, a song that sounds so much bigger than a 3 piece should be able to. Epically beautiful.

36 – Sunny Day Real Estate – Theo B

This song could take the award for ‘Best Bass line in any song ever!!’ The rhythm section control this song, driving it forwards, the guitar is a great topping along with Jeremy Enigk’s voice which could improve any song. ‘Theo B’ really reminds me of college, I listened to ‘Lp2’ constantly back then and this was always my favourite song from that record. Absolutely essential.

35 – The Gloria Record – Grace The Snow Is Here

A few of the great emo bands that split up early went on to form many great bands and Mineral were no exception. Out of all the bands that followed on from Mineral’s demise, The Gloria Record is the most similar in sound which is probably due, by in large, to the fact that Chris Simpson’s unique voice is on glorious display. The first EP they released was a relief to get to those of us who were pining for more and remains as good a listen today.

34 – Saves The Day – Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots

‘Through Being Cool’ has one of the most iconic album covers in the emo genre, recorded when they were still super young, which you can kind of tell and the album is all the better for it. Full of energy and innocence, this was when Saves The Day were at their best although they are still around now going strong, albeit with a much changed line up.

33 – Penfold – M

The chord progression used at the start of the song is one widely used by emo bands, my old band did, Appleseed Cast did and so did The Police on ‘Every little thing she does is magic’, which doesn’t really help my point but I thought it was worth a mention. Penfold do it and do it well, I love the duetting male and female vocals at the beginning, building the song brilliantly towards the soaring chorus and beyond. Fantastic emo in the Mineral mould.

32 – The Promise Ring – A Picture Postcard

This is a classic emo song slightly marred by the fact the opening lead guitar riff really reminds of the Asda jingle they use in their adverts so instead of being able to relax and enjoy the music I was hounded but visions of weird looking people in green gilets patting their bums whilst grinning madly. That’s my problem, I’ll deal with it and it shouldn’t stop you loving this song. As soon as the song progresses then you lose yourself to it’s many charms. Davey Von Bohlen singing “Couldn’t you take the second bus home? couldn’t you just take me with you?” is one of my favourite moments in any song!!

31 – Mineral – If I Could

Taken from their first, and for many people their best, album ‘The power of failing’, ‘If I could’ is 6 minutes of genius. A lot is said of how emo has no set sound, and I suppose it doesn’t because there are vast amounts of various types of music that fall under the emo banner, but if I was asked what I think of as the emo ‘sound’ I would play them this song. The style, the quiet/loud dynamic, the elongated singing that borders on screaming and the fact that Mineral could make open emotional music without being in the slightest bit cheesey makes them emo heroes of mine. Perfect!!

Thank you very much for reading and sharing and all that. Please feel free to comment/share/slate etc either here or on twitter @alex_itto. I will post the next part very soon. Cheers again x

I have updated the spotify playlist, the link for which is below!!

Emo 100 (100-31)

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Is this thing on again?

“Hello again”

Yesterday twitter delivered some exciting, if mysterious, news. The band who spearheaded a scene, made some of the best albums of the 90’s and gave me the name for this blog, The Promise Ring, announced themselves on twitter with one simple tweet “hello again”. And with that a shot of excitement was sent tingling down my spine.

So far, this remains the one tweet from the band. What can it mean? What is it we should be getting excited about?

Well, as the Promise Ring remain one of my all time favourite bands, it could mean anything and I’d be happy. There has been a trend in recent years for bands to reform and either do a few shows or give it another go and make a new album. Most can be taken with a pinch of salt but as Sunny day real estate proved last year, sometimes nothing beats seeing a band you never thought you’d ever see reforming and playing the hits for your nostalgic pleasure.

There has got to be a reason for a band to reform for it to work. Maybe some unfinished business to attend to. Some bands come to an end far too early for whatever reason and leave a longing amongst their fans. Take At the Drive-in for example. They release ‘Relationship of command’, an explosive album that still blows me away to this day, and within months they are no more. It was gutting to know that you would never get to see them live if you hadn’t already. I don’t think anyone who was a fan would begrudge them playing together again.

The same can’t be said of other bands that have taken it upon themselves to make a come back. Take Smashing Pumpkins for example. A once great band that fizzled out way before they called it a day. Then Billy Corgan takes out a full page advert in a newspaper announcing the return of the ‘Pumpkins’ before checking to see if any of the other members wanted to do it. So now you have an ego trip of a band made up of who cares who with just one remaining member.
I guess there are people that still care that they’re still going but I certainly don’t, and that’s unlikely to change regardless of how many special edition versions of old albums they may release.

Back to the Promise Ring and to me they definitely left me wanting more. I was lucky enough to see them live but in a way it was heartbreaking. I saw them supporting Jimmy Eat World at Brixton Academy in 2002. The crowd of nearly 6000 youngsters were there to hear JEW play the hits and nothing else, they didn’t give the Promise Ring a second thought. As the band had just released Wood/Water the set was mainly made up of songs from that but they did play some old songs in between. Just before playing ‘Red & blue jeans’, singer Davey Von Bohlen announced “We’re gonna play some old songs, as if you care” and had a cheeky laugh with the rest of the band. I cared, and I tried to make myself heard to the band as much as possible much to the annoyance of the people around me. It didn’t work, the band looked defeated when they left the stage. Maybe it was times like that that brought an end to the band, which would be a true shame.

In recent times there has been the odd flicker that they were coming back. A reunion show in 2005 and then talk of a best of album to be released a couple of years ago. That, as yet, has not surfaced. In the meantime, Davey has been making some great music with ‘Maritime’, who are certainly worth checking out.

So, if the Promise Ring are reforming and touring, I sincerely hope they play here in England. I would truly love to stand in a room with other fans, screaming our lungs out and showing much deserved appreciation to a band that changed music for the better.

Hassle them on twitter, @ThePromiseRing, or come and bother me @alextb3. A couple more reviews will be posted this week. Thanks for reading xx

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