Numero Emo

The relentlessly reliable Numero Group have just dropped this superb, exhaustive playlist.


It’s apt given their curation of the Indian Summer compilation a few years ago, but even by their standards this is a brilliantly authoritative selection. The decade time-span here is crucial. The term “Emo” as it’s understood in everyday usage these days, as both noun and verb, is almost entirely disconnected from its origins as a (heavily disputed, even at the time) catch all descriptor, one used both practically and disparagingly as a shorthand for a broadly shared set of thematic inclinations, subject matter and aesthetics that came about in the immediate aftermath of the burnout of the first, vital wave of US D. I. Y hardcore punk in the early to mid 80’s.

Light years away in tone, scale, sound and intention from the Hot Topic teen subculture that a line was lazily and confusingly drawn down from, these groups were often sharply varied in terms of their individual deconstructions of hardcore, but shared a refusal of bottom of the barrel, self referential, doctrinaire nihilism in favour of an approach that was at odds with meatheaded chauvinism and anti intellectualism (not that they would always succeed in escaping either).

They were completely embedded in the self organised D. I. Y ethos of the scenes and communities they sprung from (for good and for ill) and for me much of this stuff represents the last great glorious, messy, principled failure of American punk rock. Its some of the most vital and comparatively unregarded music of its era.

It’s the absolute antithesis of the nonce ridden, stadium filling, dystopian vaudeville mall rock that would go on to claim the name and some of these bands I adore with such ferocity I’d gladly tattoo their names on my forehead.

For further context, the legendary, Geocities era, somehow still existing Fourfa remains the go to for the quickest breakdown of substyles, variations and record recommendations covering this era.

I’ll return to this playlist, with some annotations and deeper dives in to some of the bands and tracks, at a later date.

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