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By · On April 12, 2016

Last month, Rolling Stone published a of what they considered to be the best emo albums of all-time. Liking the idea for such a list and what they ended up including, several of us here at Mind Equals Blown decided to do the same. Emo music  with its heart-on-sleeve lyrical expression and emo hair styles of another kind 2018 equally emboldened musical personality  has held a place in the hearts of many of our writers since day one, especially that of highly influential adolescent favorites Brand New and Jimmy Eat World. Recently, too, it’s made a revival through groups like The Hotelier and Sorority Noise. With records from the past three three decades and several eras and styles of punk/rock encompassed, this list is the collaborative effort of several staff members and the most objective collection of emo as we could assemble. Without any further ado, here is MEB’s Top 40 Emo Albums of All-Time.


Listen On Spotify40. Sorority Noise – Joy Departed (2015)

Joy, Departed is about as straightforward as you can get for the title of an album detailing a person’s experiences with depression. One of 2015’s finest punk releases depicts Sorority Noise’s frontman, Cameron Boucher, at his most vulnerable by examining mental illness through the entire spectrum of human emotions. The increased juxtaposition of soft and heavy components pushes the quartet to their most sonically grandiose level. “At 22,” Boucher said, “I have learned to come to terms with myself and make the best of what I have.” This statement makes a bold jump from the thick pain expressed on the record to the empathetic attitude that allows others to relate through their own struggles. –Tim Dodderidge


The Used - The Used39. The Used – The Used (2002)

The Used found their fame in a weird time. While most people knew them as “that band with that singer that kind of looks like Kurt Cobain had a beef with Gerard Way,” the things that Bert McCracken was doing of actual note were devoted entirely to his songwriting and unique vocal delivery on their debut self-titled record. Tracks like “The Taste of Ink” and “A Box Full of Sharp Objects” set the stage for what The Used were capable of doing and they did it. The Used was an important record for its audience; it kickstarted a world of discovery for young teens in a genre that was previously difficult to access. You can call it “mallcore” or “WR” or whatever clever bash is making its rounds on the Internet these days, but you can’t deny that it set the bar for a generation’s worth of music that shifted how we look at emo music today. –Connor Feimster


The Anniversary - Designing a Nervous Breakdown38. The Anniversary – Designing a Nervous Breakdown (2000)

There is an alluring affinity to the records that populate the fuzzy margins of the emo genre, and perhaps nothing personifies that more on this list than The Anniversary’s stellar debut. With brash electronics, co-ed vocals, and unashamed pop leanings, everything about this record is a twist on the work its predecessors laid, and the emo genre as a whole is better off for it. –Nick Niedzielski


Algernon Cadwallader - Some Kind of Cadwallader37. Algernon Cadwallader – Some Kind of Cadwallader (2008)

More than anything else, Philly five-piece Algernon Cadwallader perfectly exemplified the old cliche that a couple kids in a basement with nothing to lose is the most creative environment there is. In a way, their whimsical style acted as a spiritual companion to emo forefathers Cap’n Jazz, but it was really more picking up where they left off than anything else. Some Kind Of Cadwallader is the crown jewel of their catalog, demonstrating the band’s most important and influential achievements in an almost parade-like fashion. Transforming the unapologetic weirdness of “twinkly” emo’s humble beginnings into a smoothed-out collection of songs that still somehow feel ready to burst apart at any moment is no easy task, but Algernon pulls it off without missing a single beat or opportunity for fun — and the result will be on the high school playlists of future Topshelf signees for years to come. –Eli Shively


Everyone Everywhere - Everyone Everywhere36. Everyone Everywhere – Everyone Everywhere (2010)

As the waves of the “emo revival” surged, one of the bands that emerged from the woodworks was Everyone Everywhere. Their 2010 self-titled, with its mix of indie rhythms, American Football-inspired instrumentation, and 90s emo aesthetic brought something fresh to an already budding movement. Ripe with a sound tailored for Polyvinyl or Jade Tree, Everyone Everywhere wasn’t a carbon copy of a time bygone, but rather a sign of an emo revival that was truly resilient. When a band like Everyone Everywhere can tread at the fringes and put together something that excites to the degree of Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) or Into It. Over It., then we learn that this movement more than just a fad, and this was the record that proved that. –Adit Ahmed


Finch - What It Is To Burn Album Art35. Finch – What It Is To Burn (2002)

Drive-Thru Records brought many punk groups into the public eye in the early 2000s, and Finch became one of the label’s more interesting developments. The band’s debut album, What It Is To Burn, is an outlier in their career, as it’s the only full-length the San Diego natives ever put out that matches the spirit of other Drive-Thru acts. Their 2002 effort was a deeply personal pop-punk-meets-hardcore endeavor, with their subsequent works being more a combination of stream of consciousness narrative and experimental post-hardcore. Despite the artistic progressions they’ve made since then, the rockers still praise what their first record did for them, as their lyrical melancholy, bruising guitars, and cavernous choruses helped forge a relentless package and an early 2000s breakthrough. –Tim Dodderidge


Orchid - Chaos Is Me34. Orchid – Chaos Is Me (1999)

Orchid are experts in refined aggression. Pioneers of the “emoviolence” sound — a more chaotic version of screamo akin to powerviolence — the band released their 11-song, 19-minute debut Chaos Is Me in 1999, which propelled them to east coast punk notoriety. Orchid were known for their tendency to jump back and forth between 30-second bursts of rage and slower, more substantial instrumentation (at times within a single track), as well as their frequent references to European literature and culture. Orchid pushed these elements of their music to a point where the listener was forced to observe them in tandem with the harshness of the sound being created, setting a precedent of sophistication for the screamo genre that remains intact today. –Eli Shively


Dashboard Confessional - The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most33. Dashboard Confessional – The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most (2001)

A 20-something with dark hair, sideburns, and sleeve tattoos plucks at a guitar, harmonizing with dozens of teenagers in a room as he sings about relationships. The man is Chris Carrabba, centerpiece of the acoustic project Dashboard Confessional, and the corresponding arrangement of emotions on the set of MTV Unplugged screamed emo louder than ever before. In 2001, his second full-length, The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most, embodied the breakup angst that eventually propelled him to an MTV Video Music Award the next year. Simply sweet, yet stunningly sad, the half-hour collection of tunes arrived at— and embodied — the peak of early 2000s mainstream emo. –Tim Dodderidge


Brand New - Your Favorite Weapon32. Brand New – Your Favorite Weapon (2001)

Brand New has done more for emo in its four albums than so many other bands in its generation have done in their entire careers. The fact that this holds true for Your Favorite Weapon shows just how much of a powerhouse they are. While it didn’t necessarily entice and challenge listeners to the extent of the albums that it preceded, the veracity and emotion that Brand New brings to the table shows in no small amount on their debut. The raw pop-punk vibes that they unapologetically unleash help us appreciate their later work even more, really reflecting upon what makes Jesse Lacey and company the emo beasts that they are. –Adit Ahmed


Listen On Spotify31. Pianos Become the Teeth – Keep You (2014)

While it would be ideal to stay away from recent records as much as possible, 2014 gave us some of the best emo records in recent memory. The year was absolutely spearheaded by Pianos Become the Teeth and their glory record Keep You. This record comes as the final chapter in a trilogy of loss and, in its chronology, is the uplifting powerhouse of a finishing move. It is a direct change in sound for the band that was anxiously welcomed and brilliantly executed, something a handful of bands in this scene try and fail to do well. Pianos did it perfectly. –Connor Feimster


Jawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge Therapy30. Jawbreaker – 24 Hour Revenge Therapy (1994)

Yes, Dear You is the most truly emo record Jawbreaker put out. Yes, it is a more influential piece in this corner of the music world. But you know what? 24 Hour Revenge Therapy might be the better record. A blistering ride that somehow manages to effortlessly project Blake Schwarzenbach’s vulnerable musings, this record takes some liberties with the term emo, proudly wearing its punk leanings on its sleeve, but is ultimately one of the most important records in this genre. –Nick Niedzielski


theworldisharmlessness29. The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Harmlessness (2015)

Very few bands landed multiple spots on this list, but it would almost be a crime to not include both full-length albums from The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. 2013 welcomed Whenever, If Ever to the genre while 2015 gave us Harmlessness, an improvement we didn’t know was even fathomable from a band of this caliber. Ever since the first taste with lead single “January 10th, 2014″, it was a given that this record would be a game changer. What we were all expecting from that was that Harmlessness would be a record filled with 12 other tracks that were atmospheric, bold, and dignified. What we didn’t expect was for that to actually be true. –Connor Feimster


Listen On Spotify28. The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk (2013)

“You know what I think’s really sad? I know how really sad you are.” Those words ushered us into Talon of the Hawk, the record that pushed The Front Bottoms into the limelight and set the path for their future (massive) successes. To harken back on the silliness of emo sub-genres, The Front Bottoms would most likely be at the helm of “radio-friendly emo”, not to be confused with “mall emo” (lookin’ at you, My Chemical Romance). That genre that I just made up came true pretty fast after this record came out, landing The Front Bottoms on a handful of stations and even radio-sponsored festivals before a huge record deal with Fueled By Ramen was thrown their way. The band can keep their unique “party pop” emo sound until they die, but nothing will ever top “Twin Size Mattress”. –Connor Feimster


Jets to Brazil - Orange Rhyming Dictionary27. Jets to Brazil – Orange Rhyming Dictionary (1998)

What happens when a loud, angry punk grows up? When former Jawbreaker frontman and indie music figurehead Blake Schwarzenbach relocated to New York after the band that made him famous called it quits, he started Jets To Brazil, a project that defined what it means to mature after your lungs are too old and tired to remember how to scream. Orange Rhyming Dictionary possessed the same sense of defiance Schwarzenbach’s earlier work did, but the traces of maturity and longing that showed up in later Jawbreaker material took the lead instead. “Sweet Avenue”, the band’s most popular song, is a perfect example of this. With relaxed vocals and song structure, it has a certain loosened-up charm to go along with those same old frustrated emotions. –Eli Shively


Thrice - The Artist in the Ambulance26. Thrice – The Artist in the Ambulance (2003)

Initially a hardcore punk band, Thrice slowly evolved into something entirely different and still just as fresh. Their last album to play to their generic roots also became a staple of early 2000s emo, though its heavy punk core makes it much harder to associate with the pop-rock tendencies of their contemporaries. What brought about the emo label perhaps relies on the scattered moments when the rockers slow things down and show their forward movement, allowing the musings of vocalist Dustin Kensrue to be clearly interpreted outside the typical frenzy of riffs and drum fills. –Tim Dodderidge


Into It. Over It. - Proper25. Into It. Over It. – Proper (2011)

The term “emo revival” has been used in this list already, and it better also be used for Evan Weiss: emo revival supreme grandmaster. Weiss, better known by his project name Into It. Over It., is no stranger to the scene. After leaving his mark in bands such as The Progress, Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start, Damiera, Stay Ahead of the Weather, and probably 14 more bands, his current and most successful has to be IIOI, and it’s all thanks to Proper, his official “proper” (sorry) debut record under the moniker. While 52 Weeks showcased just how talented (read: insane) Weiss really is, it was Proper that showed that he can mix that talent with cohesiveness. The rest, as they say, is history. –Connor Feimster


Weezer - Pinkerton24. Weezer – Pinkerton (1996)

Following up on the heels of one of the great alternative rock records of our time, Weezer’s Pinkerton played a different kind of game, serving as the foundation for emo of all sorts to bud up in the years after its release. Despite disappointing critics and fans upon its release, Pinkerton has garnered scores of acclaim in the years since, with both groups holding in the same regard as The Blue Album. While the band hasn’t put out an album like it in the twenty years since it came out, acts like Dashboard Confessional, The Get Up Kids, and Brand New, among others, have found their way in no small part because of Weezer’s not-so-hidden gem. –Adit Ahmed


The World Is a Beautiful Place - Whenever, If Ever23. The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Whenever, If Ever (2013)

It’s important to let things breathe before throwing historically framed accolades at their feet, but sometimes you just know. And with just one listen to Whenever, If Ever, through, it was obvious this record was something special. It is a true adventure that is honestly impossible to put into words. The sheer amount of moving parts of the record, whether noticeable or not, is astounding, and the beauty that it holds is breathtaking. –Nick Niedzielski


Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends Album Art22. Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends (2002)

In the years after John Nolan and Shaun Cooper left Taking Back Sunday, fans from all directions dreamed about the day that they would return to bring back the days of Tell All Your Friends. The album’s trademark back-and-forth between Nolan and Adam Lazarra, cathartic arrangements, and candid rawness brought out a level of emotion that resonated heavily with scores of passionate fans. While the peak of the TBS heyday that came in the years following the record was spent without Nolan and Cooper, it was — and may forever be — the Taking Back Sunday album that was able to capture a snapshot emo and all its glory circa 2002. –Adit Ahmed


Rites of Spring - Rites of Spring21. Rites of Spring – Rites of Spring (1991)

Before Guy Picciotto joined forces with Ian MacKaye to form Fugazi, his work with D.C. hardcore icons Rites of Spring laid down the foundation for what we now call emo. The band’s self-titled record took the hardcore mentality of the D.C. scene and mixed it with an angst-driven, melodic punch that was beyond anything released up to that point. The birth of “emotional hardcore” as we know it was largely driven by what Rites of Spring brought to the scene, and the evolution of emo has grown from what that record built for it. –Adit Ahmed


Glocca Morra - Just Married20. Glocca Morra – Just Married (2012)

It’s difficult to try to stretch one’s teenage years as far as they can go while also having a full plate of adult responsibilities. The paradox of post-grad life is lost on almost no one, especially no one with enough youthful passion left in them to be seriously dedicated to playing in punk bands in their mid-20s. This, in essence, is what Glocca Morra’s emo-revival powerhouse Just Married is all about. Tracks like the house party jam “Ya’ll Boots Hats? (Die Angry)” have a certain we’re-all-in-this-together feel, but at times vocalist/guitarist Zach Schartz recalls things like “Spent my winter in some old apartments / Getting stoned and doing nothing.” Eleven tracks of confusion and anxious pondering burn through situation after situation but don’t really reach a conclusion, and that’s okay, because most of us never do anyway. –Eli Shively


Cap'n Jazz - Analphabetapolothology19. Cap’n Jazz – Analphabetapolothology (1998)

Aside from the genre’s original forefathers, Cap’n Jazz may be the most influential emo band to ever exist. The high school art project of a few Chicago-area friends, the group launched the careers of the Kinsella brothers as well as Davey von Bohlen of The Promise Ring. Their messy, all-over-the-place aesthetic is as endearing as it is unafraid of experimentation, and their signature style of instrumentation is said to have launched the math rock-influenced “twinkle” subgenre. Analphabetapolothology, a compilation of every song they ever recorded, is their most popular release, which speaks to how the holistic diversity of the band’s catalog is their most defining, unique characteristic. Simply put, Cap’n Jazz taught a whole generation of kids to not be afraid to play whatever they feel. –Eli Shively


Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary18. Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary (1994)

When Diary was released on Sub Pop, it stood in contrast to the rest of what Seattle was putting out at the time. Pushing the grunge aside for some punk-inspired emotional hardcore worked pretty well for Sunny Day Real Estate, whose “melodic but urgent” sound, as Rolling Stone once called it, became the basis for a wave of emo bands left and right. A fine line between the darker elements of catharsis and punk mentalities was drawn by Sunny Day Real Estate, whose legacy stands as its own marker in the emo timeline. –Adit Ahmed


Thursday - Full Collapse17. Thursday – Full Collapse (2001)

The aspect of togetherness made Thursday one of the most lauded post-hardcore acts of the new millennium and a staple of early 2000s emo. Often writing from the perspective of “we” over “me,” frontman Geoff Rickly emphasized not only interpersonal struggles, but also politics and philosophy on the band’s second record. Full Collapse may be most notable for “Understanding in a Car Crash” but “the time it takes to let go” is just one of several shouts of adolescence that made the disc a fever. Such relevant and relatable imagery was capped off by expertly assembled guitar strokes and harrowing vocals from Rickly, ones that originally gave him the nickname “Tone Geoff.” –Tim Dodderidge


Listen On Spotify16. Tiny Moving Parts – This Couch Is Long and Full of Friendship (2013)

Emo sub-genres are a menial breed of conversation pieces, but math rock-infused emo is one full of talent seemingly hidden in the guitar world. Dylan Mattheisen of Tiny Moving Parts proved that he is one of, if not the best, guitarist in the scene (or in music in general) on the band’s debut record This Couch is Long and Full of Friendship. Since its release, the Midwestern three-piece catapulted into emo royalty, complete with endless dates of touring and an almost immediately-inked deal with Triple Crown Records. It was this record that put Tiny Moving Parts on the map and it will absolutely hold up in the future. –Connor Feimster


Jimmy Eat World - Futures Album Art15. Jimmy Eat World – Futures (2004)

Even though other pieces of the Jimmy Eat World canon have had a greater impact on the genre, followers look to 2004’s Futures as the epitome of what the band brought to emo. While none of the singles reached the heights of “The Middle” or popular tracks of other emo records that came out around the same time, Futures showed that Jimmy Eat World knew exactly what they’re doing. The record showed us that not only could they change the game, but precisely how they were able to do it. –Adit Ahmed


Saves the Day - Through Being Cool14. Saves the Day – Through Being Cool (1999)

Youth is perhaps the toughest experience to communicate through art, but Saves The Day made it seem almost effortless with their 1999 breakthrough Through Being Cool. Frontman Chris Conley translated his seemingly endless teenage yearning into 12 blistering pop-punk thrill rides, hollering his way through the pressure of newfound independence and trying over and over again to kick his heartbroken blues to the curb. All this and more is tied together by a sense of all-encompassing urgency — so many feelings, so little time to process them. –Eli Shively


Say Anything -...Is A Real Boy13. Say Anything – …Is a Real Boy (2004)

From the song of rebellion to the final notes, …Is A Real Boy is a master class in unique and riveting songwriting. Every second of the record drips with Max Bemis’ soul, with his ultra-personal, off-the-wall lyrics being delivered in a case of noisy pop-rock that no one has come close to topping since. –Nick Niedzielski


Brand New - The Devil And God Are Ragin Inside Me Album Art12. Brand New – The Devil & God Are Raging Inside Me (2006)

This is the greatest album ever recorded, as you’ve probably heard 100,000 times by now. With its metaphor and symbolism-veiled lyrics and scatterbrained structure, TDAG isn’t necessarily your prototypical emo record, but we couldn’t in our good consciences leave it off this list. The dark depths that this record plunges to, combined with cathartic releases sprinkled sporadically throughout the record, make it one of the most emotionally weighted albums out there, and that alone makes it worthy of this spot. –Nick Niedzielski


Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - What It Takes to Move Forward11. Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) – What It Takes to Move Forward (2009)

While this list is littered with classic staples of the genre, “emo revival” deserves some attention near the front end of this list as well, and What It Takes To Move Forward is a record that truly exemplifies that specific strain of emo. It’s a record that feels so delicate throughout, teetering on the brink with soft, beautiful passages before collapsing into frantic energy. That tension cuts through the entire record, complementing the superb songwriting and building a truly special record. –Nick Niedzielski


The Promise Ring - Nothing Feels Good10. The Promise Ring – Nothing Feels Good (1997)

Davey von Bohlen of Cap’n Jazz started The Promise Ring as a side project during the former’s final years, but it eventually took on a life of its own once it became his sole focus. All six of their releases are considered emo classics, however, 1997’s Nothing Feels Good exists on another level. It represented a band who knew exactly what they were doing hitting their stride, and what they were doing was — for lack of a better phrase — just having fun with it. Von Bohlen’s hook-writing skills were at their sharpest, and juxtaposed with complex, down-in-the-dumps lyrics, every song works on multiple levels to get inside the listener’s head. Play “Why Did We Ever Meet” at a party and watch the crowd slowly get hooked on the sing-along chorus while the 90s indie rock heads exchange knowing glances. –Eli Shively


Jimmy Eat World - Clarity9. Jimmy Eat World – Clarity (1999)

While it was Bleed American that brought the peak of Jimmy Eat World’s popular recognition, the album that illustrates the impact of their canon on the genre was generally overlooked by fans and critics upon release. Clarity is a record that inspired much of the great 21st century emo artists like Pinkerton did earlier in the decade, lacking popular recognition but compensated by a ferocious devotion by those who did find solace in it. Eventually, that small group following has served to inspire the likes of Fall Out Boy and Yellowcard, as well as establish the long-term legacy of Jimmy Eat World as true emo forefathers. –Adit Ahmed


Saves the Day - Stay What You Are8. Saves the Day – Stay What You Are (2001)

Most fans of Saves the Day, even the casual ones, would point to Through Being Cool as “their record” or the band’s opus. While that record did really set the mark for the band, it wasn’t until 2001’s Stay What You Are that people started noticing just what vocalist/ringleader Chris Conley was capable of doing. Through Being Cool is Saves the Day at its punk prime while Stay What You Are is the band at its emo pinnacle. With AIM away message-worthy tracks like “Freakish”, “Firefly”, and obviously “At Your Funeral”, Saves the Day are a band that seemingly set a mark twice: once for punk, once for emo. –Connor Feimster


Texas Is the Reason - Do You Know Who You Are?7. Texas Is the Reason – Do You Know Who You Are? (1996)

Playing to cultural phenomenon in both their band name and title of their sole full-length, Texas Is the Reason ended up making their own cultural impact within the emo realm. Though being one of the most descriptively “emo” albums of the ’90s due to its straightforward brashness, Do You Know Who You Are? is bolstered by the quartet’s tremendous talent, cohesion, and artistic vision, plus flawless execution on top of all of that. The album’s wicked, in-your-face instrumentation laid the groundwork for lyrics tangible enough to bite into, and the lines were succinct enough that they extended to several generations of listeners. That’s a true testament to emo music— not only sending a message, but also having that message retained two decades later. –Tim Dodderidge


Listen On Spotify6. The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There (2014)

While catharsis may be the backbone of most (read: all) emo records, no band uses it quite like The Hotelier. What the band did on Home, Like Noplace Is There has already been countlessly mimicked in the two short years of its existence. With a blend of fiery vocals and deep-rooted lyricism focusing mainly on gender identity, singer and primary writer Christian Holden has already made a mark on the scene in a way that most vocalists can only dream of doing. We’re blessed with the next installment of The Hotelier with Goodness, due out next month. It’ll take a lot to top its predecessor. –Connor Feimster


The Get Up Kids - Something to Write Home About5. The Get Up Kids – Something to Write Home About (1999)

While Four Minute Mile may garner more recognition as an emo staple, Something to Write Home About is The Get Up Kids at their pinnacle. It finds them channeling their trademark aggressiveness through a lens of electronic flourishes and sugary hooks while never losing Matt Pryor’s bleeding-heart aura. The Get Up Kids are a pillar of this style of music and this record is the perfect melding of everything they can bring to the table. –Nick Niedzielski


Brand New - Deja Entendu Album Art4. Brand New – Deja Entendu (2003)

The early years of Brand New consisted of frontman Jesse Lacey writing songs on acoustic guitar in his bedroom, with many of these offerings eventually being translated into full-band punk rock by the time the four-piece hit the studio. The intimacy captured in this writing style aligns with the emo movement’s heart-on-sleeve stylistics, and it made Deja Entendu a hit sophomore release. The album featured as much musical diversity as it did lyrical depth, furthering the act’s initial pop-punk form into a more mature introspective venture thanks to Lacey’s channeling of his inner Morrissey and the rest of the band’s willingness to texturize his darkest — and most honest — confessions. –Tim Dodderidge


Jawbreaker - Dear You3. Jawbreaker – Dear You (1995)

’90s rockers Jawbreaker may have broken up just a year after Dear You, but their final record became an emo classic thanks to its mature shift in both style and substance. The musical inclinations were more toward polish than the raw, fervent punk of their previous efforts, which alienated some fans but led others to appreciate the instrumental prowess that multiple layers, intricate textures, and, of course, better production provide. Coming off vocal chord surgery, singer Blake Schwarzenbach had to adjust as well, taking a cleaner approach to vocal duties. His cryptic lyrics cemented his status as an emo poet of sorts, as the more introspective themes inspired an entire generation of new musicians to follow suit. Quite simply, Dear You’s progressions made it one of the most influential —and overall, one of the best — emo records ever released. –Tim Dodderidge


Mineral - EndSerenading2. Mineral – EndSerenading (1998)

Emo, for the most part, is associated with sadness. The dark, melancholic vibe the genre is known for lends itself to that, of course, but it’s often easy to forget the vast potential to convey other strong emotions through a similar sound. Mineral’s second and final LP, EndSerenading, is the poster child for this concept. Songs about the bond between family members, relationships with religion, and the harsh reality of growing up populate the tracklist, driving the listener ito a state of deep, dark contemplation just as easily as the average whiny breakup jam would. Frontman and songwriter Chris Simpson didn’t just tell you what he was feeling, he told you why, and the result was an album that sounded as if it had been ripped straight from the depths of his soul. The moments of impact were bigger, the lyrics more gut-wrenching, and the melodies more spellbinding than anything else being made at the time. While it may have not been as influential as some other records out there (cough number one on this list cough), it represents the pinnacle of what Mineral were capable of: a standard nearly impossible to match even today. –Eli Shively


American Football - American Football1. American Football – American Football (1999)

Perhaps the most spectacular thing about American Football was that they were never supposed to be a “real” band. Guitarists Mike Kinsella and Steve Holmes and drummer Steve Lamos began playing together in college in the late ’90s – a partnership that arose from the ashes of various unsuccessful projects. There were no plans to play sold-out reunion shows or release an album that would define a genre for years to come. American Football was originally just three people creating music for the hell of it, making up tunings and playing with time signatures as if they were Silly Putty. Even Kinsella’s iconic whispery vocals were pretty much an afterthought. Yet somewhere out of the madness arose a definite flavor, a sound that somehow simultaneously spoke to the directionlessness and boundless freedom of young adult life. American Football wasn’t “emo”, or anything else for that matter, by choice. It’s just what came out of them. –Eli Shively

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