Mineral – The Power Of Failing
Emo, as a term, will force rolled eyes, heavy sighs and endless bickering about “emotional hardcore” and its 20 variants. These things were much more simple when I was in junior high attempting to explain the new “old” thing I had found. A bulk folder off WinMX, the underrated and piss poor answer to Kazaa, gave me the first listen of both Mineral records back to back. The slow picking of Five, Eight and Ten began to transcend into a mix of melodic heavy strumming underlying Chris Simpson’s raw screams were enough to make me close my eyes and keep listening. I remember being transfixed as each song faded into the next until If I Could began its slow plodding intro. When the distortion kicked in and those octave chords play out, the words half sang, “she stepped outside into the morning air to watch the cars go by and let the sun dry her hair. I wanted to tell her how beautiful she was but I just stared.” In my head, any boy in love had felt this at some point. It was exactly how I wanted to empty my head and release the building static through my skin. Mineral introduced a taste of maturity into my overindulgent and exaggerated youth. Anyone that asks about my favorite record will always get this one as my answer, even though it may not be as polished or consistent as “End Serenading,” I’ll never forget the first time I listened to it and how each song broke me more and more until I had to do it again.
Rites of Spring – End on End
I sat in the back of my English class during my 8th grade year and lamented to my friends about this new “emo” thing I had found. We discussed some fitting bands and some others I’m scared to mention, but for once my loud mouth guided me to something good. Our teacher, Mr. Broadwater, overheard and walked up to us with a raised brow and said, “Did you say something about emo?” Mr. Broadwater was a musician and artist, creating songs that sounded more like Jonah Matranga’s project Onelinedrawing, We sat there in awe as he spoke to us about going to punk shows in Charlotte, the bands he was in until he said “yeah if you like emo, you’ve got to check out Embrace and Rites of Spring, I’ll bring you a CD tomorrow.” Obviously, I had no fucking clue how close I was to these bands jamming Minor Threat months before. CD in hand, I walked in the door from class and let Spring start to play. Louder, faster, and more punk than I anticipated until I started really listening to Guy Picciotto’s frantic screams and examined the lyrics. I looked up each line and screamed along in my room alone. “But I woke up this morning with a piece of past caught in my throat- And I choked,” was a swansong line for my teenage years, and as I learned later almost every teenager into punk.
Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary
Jeremy Enigk howls through Song About An Angel until it cascades into dissonance with the finishing line “my back is turned, a halo my soul for a while and all the time I tried to let you know discomfort comes clearly.” I’m not trying to break the mold of what albums are must haves, because normally there’s a reason they are categorized as such. In 10th grade English class, each student had to bring in an item that summed them up. We all took turns guessing the corresponding person to these various things. Most people brought in license plates, clothing, stuffed animals, but of course mine was The Sunny Day Real Estate CD, “Diary.” Heavy and quiet parts entwined into crashing parts, raspy vocals covered each song, as Jeremy Enigk sang about the same feelings and issues I always had. I pulled out the lyric sheet and read off, “well I go in circles running down. Oh I dream to heal your wounds but I bleed myself. Well I bleed myself,” as some grandiose gesture to the apparent pain I felt in my relationship. I can’t even remember what I was most upset about through most of the years that I connected with these records like that, but now listening to them at 25, I continue understanding every record in a different way.