Music Reviews

Sad Songs Remind Me

The Emo Diaries, Chapter Nine

Deep Elm

Can you believe we’re up to volume nine already? It seems like only yesterday that Jimmy Eat World and Further Seems Forever were making tentative steps towards emo superstardom by submitting tracks for The Emo Diaries (volumes one and four, respectively). In actuality, it’s been six years since Deep Elm first unleashed its up-and-coming concept series in order to showcase bands that didn’t mind being called the ‘e’ word. In the time since, they’ve produced installments with regularity and precision, seemingly unswayed by emo’s dramatic rise and fall from grace. More impressively, they’ve avoided becoming party to the general demise of the worthwhile compilation, a decline precipitated by the Napster-era consumer who’s getting progressively more wary of anything filed in the Various Artists section (“Why not just, like, download it all?”). With volume nine, they’ve pulled it off again – Sad Songs Remind Me (Christ, these titles get more emo by the minute) is one of the best and most coherent diary chapters thus far, validating crying and black-framed glasses for at least another six months and proving that cool compilations can still exist.

The disc’s opening bands, Swedish group So Sad Althea and the Georgia, U.S.A quartet Michael, deliver thoughtful, melodic rock songs with strains of At the Drive In (and some gorgeous string work on the latter group’s track, “Finish Line”). Swedes (yes, there are a few Swedish bands on this disc) Surrounded follow with “High Five Hiero,” a track that screams out to Hope and Adams-era Wheat. Despite their failure to break out in any dramatically original directions, this opening trio of bands constitutes one of the finest stretches present on any Emo Diaries compilation. Other noteworthy inclusions are La Pieta, whose track “More of the Sky” provides the only lead female vocals present here; Settlefish, a new Deep Elm signing who play intricate, driving emo with brooding, sedative overtones; and Milton Mapes, who contribute a slow-burning track that marries epic folk with the expansiveness of their home state, Texas.

Most of the tracks on here aren’t emo in the strictest sense. They represent the music of a genre that has infused thousands of garage bands and small, hard-working groups with a wintry introspection. This is confused emotion music without the teen angst – twelve incredibly accomplished, mature acts playing around with mellow punk, post rock and a decade’s worth of emo history to move forward a style of music that would really blow people’s socks off if they’d only give it a chance and delve deeper than Dashboard. Yay for Deep Elm!

Deep Elm Records:

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