College does funny things to a man. I am finding this out now since I have recently started attending the educational institution that is Augustana College, located in Rock Island, IL. When you attend college for the first time, as I am doing now, you start to notice things that you would have never noticed before. It might be something tangible, like noticing the leaves on a tree rustling in the wind, or it might be something intangible, like coming to the inevitable conclusion that, in only one and a half weeks of college, I have realized: emo is dead. Now, this sounds really weird coming from my mouth. In fact, it's freaking me out even typing it. I mean, I was uber-emo [John, can you get an umlaut on that uber? Thanks.]. I might not look it, but I used to eat, sleep, and live emo. It all started my sophomore year in high school.
A good friend of mine who was into the "scene" made me the typical mix tape of assorted emo bands, featuring Braid, the Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World [who I was already into without the help of her], Jejune, and a few others. Most everyone who is into the whole underground scene, it seems, has received a tape like this at one point in their lives -- chances are, they still listen to it, as do I. I played that tape constantly, to the point of actually breaking the tape player in my car. The songs contained on there motivated me, cheered me up, opened my mind, and inspired me. Never before had music changed my life this much. Not even when I got into punk was I this excited about music. I immediately immersed myself into as much emo as I could find. I bought stuff at random from my local indie record store, some of it turning out to be great finds [Cursive, Christie Front Drive], some of it being somewhat disappointing [Sweep The Leg Johnny, Blueprint], but I didn't care. I had found my niche, and what a wonderful niche it was. Then it became popular.
All of the sudden, emo was a hit song away from being on MTV. The Promise Ring in Teen People? At The Drive-In opening for Rage Against The Machine? The Get Up Kids being courted by major labels? Emo looked to be the next big fad, following the successful punk outbreak in 1994 and the not-so-successful ska invasion in 1996. It didn't help that some of these emo bands were just spending their time writing the catchiest songs never heard by the mainstream. Labels perked their ears up. In the past two years, upstart bands like the Ultimate Fakebook and A New Found Glory were lured to major labels, as well as established acts like Modest Mouse. Where did this leave the scene? Cries of "sell out" and "I never liked that band anyways" echoed throughout half-empty venues with 4 kids playing their hearts out in the corner. Those four kids? Big, Big Furnace [I bet you were all wondering when I would talk about the CD].
Big, Big Furnace would be referred to as "emo" by me had I written this review a little over two weeks ago. Back then, the old Scott thought this was boring and derivative. It is your basic jangly-guitar, clever play-on-words ["Whether the weather," "B-14 sunk my destroyer / To no end I think it would destroy her"] unassuming emo that has been done a million times before. Of course, that was the old Scott. I have now realized that emo really is dead. It is hard to explain how I realized this, it just sort of came to me. Like I said before, it is intangible. There is just something about trying to explain "emo" to other college kids that makes the whole thing sound really silly and redundant. Regardless, I have a new outlook on old and new bands alike. Braid? Rock. Promise Ring? Pop. The Get Up Kids? Keyboard-drenched pop-rock [so I get a little descriptive, sue me]. Big, Big Furnace? Indie rock, simply because they're indie and they do know how to rock. The 6 songs on here are a nice mixture of fast and slow, none with too much of an edge, and some are almost too sappy for their own good. But so what? This has gone from unassuming emo which I did not enjoy to unassuming indie rock, which really gets me into a good mood. I dare you to listen to "Tanky Porter" and tell me that it didn't get you bopping around in your chair. These kids are trying to crack into an extremely elitist audience right now, and I wish them the best of luck -- as long as they keep doing what they love, I will back them.
[taken from A different kind of greatness webzine]