By John Sosnowski
February 28, 2013
Even in this indecent age when Vans have been adopted by the ‘swag’ set en masse and Hot Topic carries Justin Bieber shirts, a few of us surely recall the days when the emo trend was king. Power-pop acts demonstrating just enough youthful angst to don the brand ‘emo’ dominated MTV2 and guyliner abounded. Fewer, though, recall the golden era of emotional hardcore. Disenchanted with the excessively macho culture overtaking hardcore punk in the late 80’s, visionary bands created what came to be known as ‘emo’ by pioneering a new style of post-hardcore that was unafraid to break new ground sonically or bear lyrics discussing feelings and emotions. Though these bands generally didn’t enjoy any great commercial success, they allowed an underground movement to thrive and set the stage for the mainstream successes of the 2000’s.
Texas is the Reason exemplified everything that made 90’s emo great, and the release of “Do You Know Who You Are?: The Complete Collection” this month is an ideal catalyst to highlight the band’s merits to potential new listeners. The short-lived but influential New York City outfit combined intellect, emotion, and drive blowing the likes of Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance out of the water. Exemplary of this is the band’s apparent fixation on the John F. Kennedy assassination: their name refers to a conspiracy theory regarding said incident, as does the song “The Magic Bullet Theory”. Despite their brushes with pseudo-intellectualism, their lyrics are far from political ranting, generally being just abstract enough for the listener to derive their own sense of meaning without becoming full blown free association. Vocals aside, the musicianship on display here surpasses traditional two-chord punk, being technical enough to keep the listener intrigued through the length of their lone full-length album, while maintaining the rough edge that defines punk and its subgenres.
The album, also titled “Do You Know Who You Are?”, is a treat in and of itself, but the “Complete Collection” release closes out with what may be the band’s finest achievement, their self-titled three-song EP. Short but sweet, the EP perfectly defines emo in its purest form as it opens with the upbeat, almost pop-punk “If It’s Here When We Get Back It’s Ours”, followed by the angsty “Dressing Cold” with its memorable lyric “At least when you were there I had someone to blame”, before the downright cathartic “Antique”, possibly the group’s greatest achievement. Boot up your Spotify, kids, and learn something about emo’s heritage.
John Sosnowski is a senior majoring in English and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org