Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Promise Ring - 30° Everywhere

There was a time not so very long ago when people didn't really know what emo was. The genre was sort of vague and nebulus and it allowed for a great deal of variety. Back then being an emo band wasn't the sort of thing non-emo fans would mock you for. There was a time when emo was more of a subgenre of indie than a subgenre of pop punk. I don't know how or why it ever crossed over, but things were better back in the old days. Bands like Jawbreaker, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Cap'n Jazz made wildly dissimilar music even though they were all lumped into the same genre. The whole thing seemed very similar to a discussion I overheard between two cool kids back when I was in 6th grade. They were discussing what qualifies as alternative music (a very new genre at the time) and they agreed that alternative bands had the freedom to do whatever they wanted. It was a time before the rules of the genre had been solidified, and before an overly commercial version of the genre had been pushed on the masses. Of course alternative has become a catch-all for music that now qualifies as adult-contempo and emo has become a joke. Nobody outside the emo community takes the genre seriously and it's a shame given its initial promise.

Anyway, that diatribe aside, The Promise Ring is one of the very best early emo bands. 30° Everywhere is an awesome album. It perfectly exemplifies the freedom of a band doing whatever it wants. The songs are perfectly crafted off-kilter pop in the style of early emo. "Picture Postcard" is by far my favorite song on the album and it perfectly exemplifies what emo was before the conventions of the genre had been written and run into the ground. As with other early emo outings, it's best to think of The Promise Ring in terms of indie rather than emo because they have a lot more in common with Death Cab For Cutie than they do with My Chemical Romance.

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