- The Promise Ring
- Sunny Day Real Estate
- Texas is the Reason
Mineral - EndSerenading (1998)
Mineral released only the two full-length albums, this and The Power of Failing, both of which you'd be wise to check out. They're of similar quality but I've chosen EndSerenading as this is my personal favorite of the two, but only marginally. This album is characterised by its softer approach.. Take the albums opener, for example. Lovelettertypewriter features barely any instrumentation at all. Just a ethereal guitar lead, Chris Simpson's beautiful voice and his sensitive lyrics. The album soon picks up but it doesn't quite have the same energy. However, it more than makes up for it with its melody, intelligent lyrics and wistful nature.
The Promise Ring - Nothing Feels Good (1997)
Regarded as one of the pioneers of the second wave of emo music, this album represents where The Promise Ring really began to define themselves. Moving on from the debut, this album is quick to progress on its journey into pop territory. This was one of the first albums to really blend together pop punk and emo music and its influence is still felt today. As you'd probably expect, the music is extremely catchy and upbeat. The production is really clean and it has some truly terrific choruses exuding the ever present sense of sentimentality that their music always seemed to have.
Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary (1994)
Considered to be the defining album of the second wave of emo. Sunny Day Real Estate may just be my favorite emo band of all-time. When it comes to choosing a favorite LP in their discography, I'm spoiled for choice. Diary is undoubtedly the most influential but my ultimate favorite is probably the overlooked self-titled album. Diary is considered to have laid much of the foundations for the emo in the 1990's, alongside Weezer. The album made the genre accessible to new audiences who had previously had trouble getting into the genre. It features a neat mix of elements, from quieter arpeggiated sections to more dynamic, energetic ones. This album hints at all sorts of potential for the band and, in particular, their vocalist Jeremy Enigk, who is perhaps a little less distinctive on this effort than he is on their later albums. Regardless, it's a breathtaking effort for a debut.
Texas is the Reason - Do You Know Who We Are? (1996)
Another emo band whose career was short-lived. The title of the album is supposedly the last thing said by John Lennon before he died. There are a few key features to this album which make it what it is. The first being Garret Klahn's nasal vocals. Thankfully, the strength of his voice is such that the nasal qualities don't become overbearing with the mix of the instrumentation. He's actually quite a warm and inviting vocalist. The lyrics also go some way to strengthening his appeal as the front man. They express a discontent and loneliness that's pretty typical of the emo genre today. Texas is the Reason never really had a niche. They weren't overly poppy, they weren't that hardcore, nor were they as technical as a number of the other bands around the same era but they were honest, passionate and good at what they did.
Thursday - Full Collapse (2001)
Thursday were one of the first bands to receive mainstream exposure. They charted at #178 on The Billboard 200 and had a couple of popular singles, including "Cross Out the Eyes". The albums success was born of the bands ability to create a well engineered sound, utilising rhythmic bass lines and captivating melodies which weren't too overpowering. What I like about this album is that it isn't afraid to push the boundaries and is rarely ever predictable. I think the variety of vocals on offer, which includes clean singing and understandable screams, makes a real difference to the album, as does the variation in pacing within the songs and the album in general. Fast, crunchy melodies are contrasted with slower sections to great effect.