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30 review for From the Basement: A History of Emo Music and How It Changed Society

  1. 4 out of 5

    shredberg

    Part of me doesn't want to be critical about things the book wasn't really going for. But at the same time it's a bit tough for me to not get annoyed at the incredible lack of emo history in a book that has "history" in its title. For the positives, the interviews were great. It's awesome to get a collected response on some of the big names of the 90's and 00's on the initial growth of emo and the pop emo scene. The photos were a great addition. The section on mental health was great. Unfortunate Part of me doesn't want to be critical about things the book wasn't really going for. But at the same time it's a bit tough for me to not get annoyed at the incredible lack of emo history in a book that has "history" in its title. For the positives, the interviews were great. It's awesome to get a collected response on some of the big names of the 90's and 00's on the initial growth of emo and the pop emo scene. The photos were a great addition. The section on mental health was great. Unfortunately, for the most part the "history" read like it was a wikipedia entry with interviews in between. Largely, other than perhaps the section on the emocore beginnings of the genre, I cannot imagine anyone familiar with the early 00's emo scene reading this learning anything about the genre. Overall, the book glossed over the actual growth of the scene. For the 90's largely not talking about how the scene grew other than just explaining that basement shows and small concerts defined it. But mostly just talked about 90's bands like Jimmy Eat World, Sunny Day Real Estate, Saves the Day, and a few others saying they paved the way without particularly explaining how. More egregiously, the band was extremely dismissive of skramz screamo bands instead only talking about scremo with bands that, while part of the "scene," are more associated with post-hardcore than emo (bands like alexisonfire and the like). There was 1 sentence where Pg. 99 was name dropped but it was immediately dismissed as more similar to grindcore. Moreover, the "history" of the genre basically ended with 2006. While newer bands got name drops there was no recollection of the past 13 years of emo. Algernon Cadwallader, Empire Empire, etc. were coming up as bands at the same time the section was talking about emo being "dead." There were interviews that alluded to bands being alive in the time between 2007-2019, but no mention to the hows and whys. The book even talks about Emo Rap more than it talks about any of the modern emo bands. Largely, my criticism comes down to the fact that the book really is not a history of emo music but largely a recollection of which emo-pop bands came to prominence in the early 00's. There is so much more to emo than the bands that played on MTV and Fuse and largely those bands were ignored. Again, perhaps a lot of my criticism is my own fault for having expectations outside of the scope of the book. But anyone looking to get any more history that you can't get in wikipedia I recommend skipping it. If you're a big fan of the genre the interviews with emo-pop bands are really cool.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Echols

    This isn't so much a history of emo as much as it is a memoir of the author's love for early-00's screamo bands (namely Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance and Senses Fail) and a handful of interviews. The first two waves of the genre are covered in two brief chapters early on, before settling into focusing on the above-mentioned bands for the remainder of the book. And the modern emo revival (bands like Modern Baseball, Tiny Moving Parts, TWIABPAIANLATD) aren't mentioned at all, leaving the This isn't so much a history of emo as much as it is a memoir of the author's love for early-00's screamo bands (namely Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance and Senses Fail) and a handful of interviews. The first two waves of the genre are covered in two brief chapters early on, before settling into focusing on the above-mentioned bands for the remainder of the book. And the modern emo revival (bands like Modern Baseball, Tiny Moving Parts, TWIABPAIANLATD) aren't mentioned at all, leaving the reader to deduce that emo died in 2007 (or morphed into Soundcloud rap, strangely). It'd honestly be a stretch to call it an oral history, since there is more editorializing from the author than content from the interviews. It's not a bad book and I didn't not enjoy reading it - just do not judge it by its cover bc it is not the history it is billed as. If you're interested in a book actually detailing the origins of emo, I'd recommend "Nothing Feels Good" by Andy Greenwald. That book ends in 2003sh, before this wave of emo really kicked off and I was hoping this book would pick up the torch where that one left off, but that wasn't the case.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Too much focus on just one band. Too much focus on MCR, not enough content about anyone else. Needs more interviews from bands to call it an oral history.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tom Forrester

    I love music books like this-retrospectives/oral histories of bands and genres that have been important to me throughout my life. This was a fun and very nostalgic trip through early 00’s emo. Much like the author, I was in my teenage years during pop-punk and ‘emo’s’ peak, and as such, lived and loved the genres. While I didn’t learn too much new information from reading this book, it did bring back some great memories of shows that I attended, and long forgotten albums. This wasn’t a comprehensi I love music books like this-retrospectives/oral histories of bands and genres that have been important to me throughout my life. This was a fun and very nostalgic trip through early 00’s emo. Much like the author, I was in my teenage years during pop-punk and ‘emo’s’ peak, and as such, lived and loved the genres. While I didn’t learn too much new information from reading this book, it did bring back some great memories of shows that I attended, and long forgotten albums. This wasn’t a comprehensive study of the emo scene, that I was expecting-when compared to Andy Greenwald’s ‘Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers and Emo’, it comes up a little short. However, Greenwald’s analysis was always meant for the generation of emo kids that came before me, and Markarian captured the essence of my emo perfectly. I also appreciated the author’s disclosure of her struggle with mental health, and how this music helped her through those times. I can certainly relate to music being a crutch through difficult times, including my own struggles with mental health. I think that truly speaks of the universality of this type of music, and why it appealed to so many people around the world. If nothing else, it’s made me revisit some albums that have been neglected for far too long. In that sense, this book can only be considered a success l!

  5. 5 out of 5

    R.L. Bailey

    A fun read and the author gets it; for those of us who grew up in the scene I'd say this is pretty accurate and not a revisionist's history. That being said the one fault is this is super short. When writing a book like this you'll always miss some obscure band; but this one really glosses over most bands. I felt Taking Back Sunday and My Chemical Romance are really the only bands who get a lot of time spend on them. Even Brand New is only really in here as a comparison to TBS. A fun read and the author gets it; for those of us who grew up in the scene I'd say this is pretty accurate and not a revisionist's history. That being said the one fault is this is super short. When writing a book like this you'll always miss some obscure band; but this one really glosses over most bands. I felt Taking Back Sunday and My Chemical Romance are really the only bands who get a lot of time spend on them. Even Brand New is only really in here as a comparison to TBS.

  6. 5 out of 5

    mel

    "Real Emo" only consists of the dc Emotional Hardcore scene and the late 90's Screamo scene. What is known by "Midwest Emo" is nothing but Alternative Rock with questionable real emo influence. When people try to argue that bands like My Chemical Romance are not real emo, while saying that Sunny Day Real Estate— lol jk definitely closer to a selectively-sourced retrospective than the "comprehensive look" described on the back cover, but i'm actually okay with that. i just wish the title wasn't so "Real Emo" only consists of the dc Emotional Hardcore scene and the late 90's Screamo scene. What is known by "Midwest Emo" is nothing but Alternative Rock with questionable real emo influence. When people try to argue that bands like My Chemical Romance are not real emo, while saying that Sunny Day Real Estate— lol jk definitely closer to a selectively-sourced retrospective than the "comprehensive look" described on the back cover, but i'm actually okay with that. i just wish the title wasn't so misleading. i thought it would be a quick, easy read & i was right. not particularly complex analysis— very surface level explanations with uneven coverage. but you know what? i had some fun! as someone who went into this book with a (probably) above average level of knowledge on the subject, i liked it as a collection of firsthand quotes and stories. it felt a little like being cornered at a party & getting a ted talk from someone's older sister... which might actually be kind of fitting for this topic? sure, i would have loved to see markarian draw a clearer timeline/family tree and go more in depth with the greater historical/social context & significance BUT ~emo~ is so rooted in the emotions and the experiences tied to it that i'll take this for what it is. minor quibble: i thought it was weird that she completely skipped past the emo revival of the 2010s & jumped to soundcloud rap— especially when revival bands are namedropped by her interviewees. again, i guess this is more of a personal account of the bands that resonated with the author, so oh well ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ some critiques that i will stand by: it was jarring to see so many references to brand new without ever addressing jesse lacey (cw/ child grooming; sexual coercion, abuse). i was also disappointed that, while there was some cursory discussion of toxic masculinity early on, it never addressed sexism & misogyny in the scene. i was hoping for a section in a similar vein to jessica hopper's "where the girls aren't" essay. i guess i was a little... underwhelmed by how heavily this book coasts on nostalgia. last year i went to a jessica hopper/hanif abdurraqib talk hosted by kcrw & abdurraqib said something about emo that kept popping into my head while reading: "without rigorous accountability, nostalgia is kind of worthless." i do think people should be allowed to look back fondly at things that soundtracked crucial moments in their lives & continue to enjoy them. i would just hope that they do so with newfound clarity— to recognize the bad parts & to reckon with how to handle them moving forward. overall, the author's passion is palpable & i'm happy for her! unfortunately, the title talks some big game & falls short. i keep going back & forth between rating 2 vs 3 stars— like i said, this was a fun read & it's probably great if you're really just looking to reminisce. it doesn't really bring anything new to the table for me, though, so i'll keep waiting for an andy greenwald level book about this era.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Vince Snow

    A few years ago BuzzFeed started doing quizzes or something about which My Chemical Romance song you were and that left a really weird taste in my mouth. Along with Emo Nites popping up everywhere, I felt like being emo was seen as some retro thing that people looked back on how 'cringey' everyone was back in the early 2000s. This book was a really quick easy read. I was especially fascinated by the first few chapters that talk about the beginning of the scene. I thought that the authors theory t A few years ago BuzzFeed started doing quizzes or something about which My Chemical Romance song you were and that left a really weird taste in my mouth. Along with Emo Nites popping up everywhere, I felt like being emo was seen as some retro thing that people looked back on how 'cringey' everyone was back in the early 2000s. This book was a really quick easy read. I was especially fascinated by the first few chapters that talk about the beginning of the scene. I thought that the authors theory that emo music was responsible for the more open dialogue that we have in culture today on mental health was interesting and thought provoking, but ultimately I strongly disagree. Looking back now though the early 2000s emo movement is unique, largely propelled into the mainstream by the advent of the internet, and it DID have a big effect on society. The book wasn't everything I wanted it to be, I felt like a lot of it was filler, but it was a good read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Greg Sorensen

    I would have loved this book back in 2003 when I thought these bands were the end all be all. It’s basically one big love letter to the likes of My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Silverstein, and Senses Fail with no real talk of how they were influenced and who *really* shaped the tones they were going for. If you want to feel nostalgic for that time, go for it but I was hoping for something else (especially with such a bold title).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Zeckner

    A sugar coated view of 3rd wave emo. No discussion of the misogyny in the lyrics and scene. No discussion of the sexual assaults. No discussion of the "nice guy" that the scene helped build. Also stoops so low to call the newest wave of emo hip-hop as less deep and more superficial than 3rd wave. If you want to love something, you have to be able to take a critical look at it. And the author doesn't seem to be willing to do that. A sugar coated view of 3rd wave emo. No discussion of the misogyny in the lyrics and scene. No discussion of the sexual assaults. No discussion of the "nice guy" that the scene helped build. Also stoops so low to call the newest wave of emo hip-hop as less deep and more superficial than 3rd wave. If you want to love something, you have to be able to take a critical look at it. And the author doesn't seem to be willing to do that.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trillian

    I like the book the the title is all wrong. It's more a love letter to the 2000's scene and not a history of emo. I enjoyed it but thought I was going to be reading something with a little more meat on the bone. I like the book the the title is all wrong. It's more a love letter to the 2000's scene and not a history of emo. I enjoyed it but thought I was going to be reading something with a little more meat on the bone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tara Callahan

    Very informative about the Emo music genre and scene. Always felt connected with the Emo scene but did not know a lot of bands that were considered Emo and the historical vantage point from an insider in the music scene.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julia Shapiro

    LOVED this! Made me feel so proud to grow up and experience this movement. Also, talked a lot about culture and society and how that impacted music and vice versa. Really loved this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mike White

    This book is the story of my life.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jameson Ketchum

    Taylor and I came up as rock writers in the same era. She beautifully captures various aspects of the emo movement, both from a fan and from a professional perspective. I can't recommend this book enough. Taylor and I came up as rock writers in the same era. She beautifully captures various aspects of the emo movement, both from a fan and from a professional perspective. I can't recommend this book enough.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Noah

    A pretty good insight into the scene from someone who lived it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Myles

  17. 4 out of 5

    Clara O'Connell

  18. 5 out of 5

    Conor Scott

  19. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  20. 4 out of 5

    Addison

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily Walker

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mr T

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  24. 5 out of 5

    Deanna Chapman

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joe Bacanovic

  27. 4 out of 5

    Scott Rager

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jula

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Konecny

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ladd H Udy

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