The compulsion emo fans have to create diagnostics and tiers and graphs and taxonomies and dendrograms and wikis and zines and various labyrinthine diagrams, I can only assume, is a psychic product of technocapital’s drive to arboreally organize. But also. I can’t help but drool over this shit lmao.

I have seen these images mucking around futilely in the digital tar pits of tweeter dot com for months now, and I can no longer sublimate my desire to review.

Something Old and You Don’t Need Maps have both spent some time on it:

Emo discourse? Rankable emo discourse? I’ll drink my 9am diet coke to that. Let’s investigate, and lose several instagram followers probably.

(If you want worthwhile insights and sentences free from my personally onerous choler, I would refer to those articles instead. Cause I’m going to get huffy and pouty writing this. I will probably have to take my shirt off to disperse some excess body heat.)

Of course we start off with Brand New.

If Brand New is in your yearly top artists on Spotify, you should be sentenced to 6 months of community service, at the absolute least.

A lot of this is unlistenable. Many of these bands should be lumped into a new category, like, idk, Train Emo, or Uncrustables Emo, or Roller Backpack Emo or something. The Gulf of Mexico sized quality differential between Cap’n, The Appleseed Cast, and The Promise Ring, versus the insufferable of Old Gray, Merchant Ships, and Tiny Moving Parts is enough to drive you into Lovecraftian madness.

Quick aside: The fact we ever had to entertain Old Gray and Sorority Noise is so grotesquely vulgar. Weenie Hut Jr.-ass bands.

Also, what the fuck is Cloud Nothings, Envy, and TBLA doing here? It seems strange to me that someone who loves to seal clap for the like 57 completely identical TWIABP songs would be clamoring for the uniquely ambitious Abacus discog afterwards, but then again, emoheads will canonize anything that pops up on the YouTube algorithm (easily impressionable crowd, I must say).

Shit, what’s Midwest Pen Pals doing here? They’re definitely Uncrustables Emo, but like, a quarter-eaten uncrustable that was left in an Indianan 8th grade locker back in 2012. It hasn’t rotted because they make the sandos with microchemicals that are sterilizing humanity.


Just because something was uploaded to during post-modern antiquity (the Obama years), doesn’t mean we need to be reminded it exists, or pretend that is a forgotten relic.

Sure, this is conventional emo fandom. Sure. But, let me ask you this: is that the vibe? Imagine, right now in this very moment, you decide you’re a Green Bay Packers fan. You’ve never been a not-soccer football fan (refuse to do the pun there). You don’t even know what “packer” refers to. You’re not even sure if football is the one they get hella concussions in, or if it’s an X-Game.

But, now, suddenly, you’re with it. You’re thee Green Bay fan. That’d be pretty silly huh? Kind of annoying for the rest of the Cheeseheads?

And yes, you could retort that none of this shit actually matters considering the planet is hemorrhaging biodiversity and the capitalist class is jizzing all the way to the bank (they own), but for the sake of the scene, and for this cheeky bit of un-editorializing, this tier is on some ultrapedestrian shit,

juxtaposed with genuine achievement, tho.

Oh, also, we need to reckon with the malignancy that is the rehabilitation of Bleed American. If that shit is emo, might as well add Maroon 5 and The Script to this tier as well. Fuck it. I’m push pitting to OneRepublic alone in my studio apartment tonight. You’re the ones that wanted this.

Damn this is way better. Still some pretty wild disparity though. What are the odds this was made by a jocose undergrad between their lunch and psych lab?

A lot of bands that don’t make a lot of sense here: Dag Nasty, Moss Icon, Everyone Asked About You, The Goth Nazis (Heroin), Raein, Circle Takes the Square, Vitreous Humor, Off Minor, Funeral Diner, The Van Pelt, Gospel, Lync.

Okay. It has a lot that I think are like, maybe slightly, too niche for the second tier. Maybe. What do I know.

Let’s rank this rank:



City of Caterpillar

Okay that’s all I’m doing with that.

A decent amount of imperious cornballery going on here; Snowing at the spearhead of it. They should, unquestionably, be near the tip of the iceberg. In no reality is Snowing, a band thousands of people like, more obscure than fuckin Midwest Pen Pals, a band 20 dudes like, 8 of which are named Graham.

Snowing is like, when people scoff out the, “oh I hate Starbucks, [X alternate nationally syndicated coffee chain, like Caribou or some shit] is my fav” line, but as an emo band.

William Bonney catches my eye as everyone’s favorite “look at the obscure shit I like band.”

“I hate everyone I know, and then I wonder where my friends go” is hands down one of the worst attempts at r a w lyricism in the whole of rock music. A really artless, unchallenging band, but one that’s just sub-radar enough that people can mine some meaningless internet hip-ore. I will give William Boopey some plaudits tho. The sad paper bag album art is defs the type of obvious morose kitsch that diyites piss in excitement for (me circa age 16). Also, I don’t like how they are tying together Funeral Diner and Everyone Asked About You, two fucking great bands that don’t audibly biff their notes in their records.

I’m not done. Ooooh I’m riffing now baby.


Enjoying Circle Takes the Square defs takes dedication. Yeah. Dedication to liking anemic metal lmaooo yeah boooooi.

CTTS was one of those bands I really fucked with as a high schooler, prior to being exposed to Death, and Skinless, and Thou, and Weakling, really the larger corpus of non-metalcore metal. It only holds up if you somehow really get down to dawdling, undemanding Rush approximation, with skramzy whamzy yowls. Imagine if Paradise Lost was written by Milton from Office Space, instead of the nasty little freak we all know and love John Milton. That’s CTTS.

Other than that though, this is probably the healthy place to be done with emo. Move on with your life. Listen to Wham! and 2 Chainz. Get into crossword puzzles.

I feel like this is the most consistently good tier. The Pine has some more apparent tfw-no-gf-core moments and The Gloria Record is no Imbroco, but not trying to be a freakin’ Nit Picky Nolan right here right now!

This is the personal emo epoch where you start to read Karl Liebknecht speeches and realize, “Oh fuck. My local DIY scene is basically (and sometimes just literally) a frat.”

Congrats friend. You’ve reached a critical threshold.

  1. You will either be insufferable at parties cause you have defenestrated the obscurest examples of an already niche subgenre into some crevasse within your id.
  2. You will be an appreciated eccentric within your friend group, mostly cause you overcompensate with knowledge of other more popular media. You probably have memorized the dimensions of Seinfeld’s apartment, or could give a lecture on the Aldmeri Dominion.

If I had to choose a top 5 here:

  1. Yaphet Kotto
  2. The Hated
  3. Hoover
  4. Kidcrash
  5. Joshua Fit For Battle tied with Ethel Meserve, after a grueling, but masterful aural fencing match.

If you desire to be a PLUS ULTRA fan, but don’t want to delve into the New Amsterdam Gin-fueled sequestration of the lower levels, this is where you should take refuge.

Ubi emo, ibi dolor.

You’re submerged. The pressure is cataclysmic. There’s so many fucked up crab worm things. Brandston is floating there for some reason even though they should clearly be in the lower end of the 2nd tier.

And there is emocore en masse. En big ol belligerent masse.

A lot of great shit too. Policy of 3 is required listening. We need to come together and exchange Embrace’s position in the canon with Policy of 3. Policy of 3 is better than Fugazi.

Ordination of Aaron also fuckin rules. You should probably listen to Twelve Hour Turn as well, and Maximillian Colby. And Sleepytime Trio. Jejune and Nuzzle also kick the ass of all the fucked up fish that float around down there.

Okay, I need to backtrack. So much of this is fantastic. But dawg, you are in it in it. You are Deryck Whibley deep now. You’re like, down there with the sperm whales, but unlike our aquatic mammalian kin, I don’t think you’re gonna be coming up for air. You’re puffing L.A. Confidential with Jack from Titanic.

You have entered into a very unsociable strata. Online indie/emo/punk communities will no longer be fun. When you witness casuals arguing “Tigers Jaw is totally better than Balance and Composure” on Facebook, you will be saddened. But, you won’t comment “they are both very bad” because you know a 20 year old crypto-libertarian named some bullshit like Dyler Goreham-Guntman will pout and call you an elitist or a gatekeeper or some other word they heard wrongly used on YouTube.

(Btw gatekeeping is when an institution excludes those from the non-dominant class, not when one has unexciting taste in bands that just rehash “slide” by the goo goo dolls, but shittier.)

What other analogies can I use here. At this point, you’re engaged in an intense D & D campaign on the ethereal plane, but like, alone.

I have met ZERO people IRL that enjoy Shotmaker. And sure, it should be noted that I’m originally from gyuk a hyuk nowhereland west of Chicago, east of Denver, but still, not one!

You’re going to have to join this FB group for any sort of meaningful emocore commiseration once you sink to these depths:

I’ll be honest and direct. I’ve probably listened to more emo than you. I’d say there’s like a 90% chance.

Please, don’t assume I’m boasting. I am not. I consider my proclivity for occupying myself with 90s -core ephemera to be an expression of anti-social esotericism similar to the beardos who have thousands of painstakingly designed Warhammer 40k miniatures, or the people who spend thousands on ferry rides to primordial Phorcysian islet outposts just to see some funky birds.

Birds like this. Look at this kooky fucker.

That being said, what the fuck are these bands?

What is Stumpy? Who is Stumpy? That’s not a band! No fuckin way. Stumpy is the name of the guy who works at the Kum & Go in your hometown who is famous for ripping his nutsack open after trying to do a scooter trick in the parking lot of the local high school. Like, not even a good trick too. He just like tried to spin a little bit, ate shit, and absolutely eviscerated his scrote.

Infind? A Thousand Never Enough? Shut the fuck up. That is a parody emo name. That is what an SNL writer (on their way out) would come up with for a forgotten sketch mocking 2000s mallmo.

Addendum: Some of this is real and good.

Kolya’s s/t is a personal fav. If you wish Slint made another album after Spiderland, listen to Kolya’s s/t. It might be better than Spiderland.

Owltian Mia is tight. Julia is tight. Shroomunion, despite having a really goofball, Smurf-y, child’s picture book name, is tight. The Evergreen Trio (not to be confused with Evergreen, another good band) is tight. Proudentall is tight. Chino Horde is tight. If you’re concluding “Jenkmin doesn’t seem like he had a great time in high school,” you’d be money. I was on the swim team tho. I had abs.

My biggest faux-problem with these tiers is that they’re not really empirical. Brandston has 70k listeners on, and they’re right up next to Harrison Bergeron, a band with less than 2000. Obv, isn’t indisputable when it comes to establishing degree of popularity and cultural diffusion, but I think it does reasonably indicate this jpeg was conceived according to vague impressions, as opposed to actual numbers. No shade @ whoever created it though. One of my more popular memes is a genre-based political compass that is very, very debatable (based upon what I’ve observed in the now disowned Chapo Trap House reddit). We aren’t scientists.

Life Lessons

If you have sage emo wisdom and regularly listen to Rue Morgue, it would behoove you to keep quiet about it. You will have a much better time, in general.

I make quote unquote elitist memes semi-anonymously online because it’s a bit, and most people understand that I’m embodying a very ridiculous persona. I’m just having a silly goof time with my online friends.

IRL tho? 98% of the people who like emo, in any of its variants, are not going to entertain it holistically. 36 year old dudes are gonna keep on thinking Through Being Cool is the realest emo shit. TikTok teens are gonna think hyperpop producers named like Fuckxion42O are the newest wave of emo. It’s just how it goes. Is that wack? Kind of, but also, like, it’s whatever. Listen to other shit too.

Here’s my mega 2020 releases playlist:

disgruntled member of the music commentariat