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VA - The Emo Diaries Chapter Eleven: Taking Back... Album Cover

VA - The Emo Diaries Chapter Eleven: Taking Back...

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VA - The Emo Diaries Chapter 11: Taking Back What's Ours
October 2007
Deep Elm Records


What the fuck happened Deep Elm?

If you would’ve asked me a week ago what the last safe haven for showcasing emerging artists was – I probably would have jokingly said VH1’s “You Heard It First” before seriously answering Deep Elm Records’ The Emo Diaries series. Chapter 2: A Million Miles Away remains to be one of the greatest compilations ever assembled. Greats like The Appleseed Cast, Jazz June, and the relatively unknown My Favorite Citizen contributed unreleased songs that remain unforgettable to this day. Not only that, but they were themselves – no trends, no bullshit. Fast forward to Chapter 11: Taking Back What’s Ours where it seems that bands no longer resemble what went into previous chapters to make them so great. Back then, The Cast had their keenly melodious Midwestern influence of sorts – The Jazz June perhaps more so punk. Though Citizen’s “Kayla Learns to Dance” more closely resembles what has found its way on to the compilation’s newest release, I challenge any of you to stand behind these new songs in place of the aforementioned. I challenge you because you just fucking can’t – and that pisses me off.

This cute, little pink package was so alluring too. Deep Elm’s signature move to put black-and-white promo pictures of the bands surrounding the tracklisting gave me a hard-on and waiting more than a minute to put it into my computer was simply not an option. Almost immediately, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Above Them’s “Change Your Views” is basically “The Middle”s morale-boosting lyrical charge with Nickelback’s general rock faux-pas. “Change your views/Don’t live your life through anyone/Don’t break the mold.” Don’t point out that those lyrics are contradictory because I already know. It doesn’t get any worse, however, unless you consider a scene kid’s version of The Rakes worse – I speak of This Drama’s “Tiger Meets Lion”. The first chance I had to enjoy the album came in the form of Knockout Kings’ “Question Everything”. The whiney vocals do grow on you as the song goes on, but more importantly, the song actually kept my interest. Andy Tanner, formally of the Layman Terms, follows. My immediate bias towards this man because of his former band could’ve led me to like his song more than I should’ve so I’ll let you the readers get back to me about it.

The Decoration’s “Progress, Not Perfection” is the next song on the compilation you need to be aware of. The band flaunts boyish melody like Daphne Loves Derby, but strikes deeper than the former can ever think of doing. I daresay it’s the best track on the release, but I don’t doubt this reader-base will refute this claim in support of I’m Fashion, You’re Victim’s “Until Vendetta’s Achieved”. Now this song really makes me question who over at Deep Elm put this thing together. Are they accepting applications from former Victory Records interns or something? If I wanted to listen to faux-screamo then I wouldn’t be listening to what I thought was a respectable series of compilations.

It's sad what the emo scene has become, but its even sadder that this new crop o' shit has affected the last available outlet for the bands hoping to bring back a little of what went into coining the genre in the first place. Emo is emotional hardcore. It always has been, and in my mind, always will be. To label what you will find in this compilation 'emo' is straight-up blasphemy to me. If you're only getting these kinds of submissions, Deep Elm, then rope them into the 'This is Indie-Rock' compilation, but not 'The Emo Diaries'. Because for God sakes, what has happened with this release is one step closer to the true essence of what emo used to be being totally eradicated.
This review is a user submitted review from Scott Irvine. You can see all of Scott Irvine's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 19
10:32 PM on 09/23/07
#2
lauren<3s music
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"It's sad what the emo scene has become, but its even sadder that this new crop o' shit has affected the last available outlet for the bands hoping to bring back a little of what went into coining the genre in the first place."

Genius. its the sad bitter reality of the scene we live in
10:56 PM on 09/23/07
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saysmydoctor
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Lowest rating ever?
03:07 AM on 09/24/07
#4
fadedmemories
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Quote:
What the fuck happened Deep Elm?

my words exactly
06:22 AM on 09/24/07
#5
b4u4get
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Yeah, so sad, so sad... I am very disappointed with this album.
07:54 AM on 09/24/07
#6
Rich Duncan
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This makes me sad, I was hoping this album would be as good as some of the older ones.
08:54 AM on 09/24/07
#7
shes.a.ghost
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Damn... When Emo Diaries is no longer putting real emo on their compilations it pretty much means that what we all know as emo is now practically dead. It has been for awhile, but Deep Elm raised the little hope I had. Wow, this is sad.
09:51 AM on 09/24/07
#8
Clark
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At least you didn't completely diss Knockout Kings. Dallas FTW.
09:51 AM on 09/24/07
#9
Chevy114
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This takes me back and truely looks like a good cd. I just wish people would stop calling every rock band that has the diy mentality emo. P.S. The Get Up Kids will always rule!
10:12 AM on 09/24/07
Nathan Lint
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that Knockout Kings song is really good.
11:53 AM on 09/24/07
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Let me apologize in advance for the lengthy response to this review. I figured that someone who knows and has listened to this compilation as much as Scott has should step up and defend it. At the very least it might instigate some intelligent discussion…or vicious name calling.

First of all, Scott has terrific taste in music…especially in relation to his quest to shed a little positive light on much-maligned and often misunderstood genre. Most of the stuff he digs, I’m right there with him, and I firmly believe that he’s an invaluable asset to the Absolutepunk.net crew.

In any case, it’s ridiculous to dive into a semantic argument about what is and isn’t good, because there’s never be a winner when you start questioning people’s taste in music. It eventually ends up as one of those petty “you suck…no YOU suck” disputes. Agree or disagree with reviews on this site…it doesn’t really matter. We’re all entitled to an opinion.

Still, to summarily lump twelve bands into the “new crop o’ shit” category is just plain irresponsible. No one deserves that tag, regardless of what you think of their music. What’s worse is those of you posting comments in perfect, unquestioning agreement when it’s quite clear you haven’t even heard the record.

I am one of the most vocal supporters of “real emo,” so I find it amusing when the readership –- people who cite bands such as Emanuel, Senses Fail and HawthorneHeights as favorites -– comments on the state of the scene. Especially when said people have never taken the time to explore amazing genre pioneers like Indian Summer, Current, Moss Icon, Policy of 3 or Ordination of Aaron. Hell, even artists like Braid, The Van Pelt and Christie Front Drive get short shrift from the readers. In other words, don’t preach to me about the decline of emo when you’ve missed the past 15 years of it.

Of course, now we’re getting into one of those semantic arguments mentioned above; not to mention the fact that I’m probably 12 years older than most of you. I can hardly blame anyone for being part of a generation that is regularly bombarded with major label-generated faux emo.

Anyway, a few positive comments in defense of Emo 11.

1. “Change Your Views” from Above Them is an awesome song...one of the best on the comp. There’s a reason why it’s first, and that’s it’s because it’s incredibly infectious, aggressive, dynamic and in no way Nickelback-esque. Nor do the lyrics (other than the first line) particularly adhere to any “moral-boosting.” Even if they did…who cares? Somewhere along the way emo earned the unfair tag of being sad or worse yet, cutting your wrists. It doesn’t have to be though. Case, in point, “Polar Bear Summer” from one of my favorite bands I Hate Myself…

the sun is shining on me, finally. finally.
and you walk so gracefully.
why don't you walk with me?
things are turning green and changing,
and it smells sweet. birds have come from out at sea,
and they sing for you and me.
time here is always so slow, but summer's fast.
let's make it last.
maybe this year you could stay,
and we'll wake together every day.

2. The unmentioned While You Were Gone’s offering is great. Plus, it’s a female singer. I mention it because I love the song…and I firmly believe there is a huge prejudice against female-fronted bands within the punk community. It’s not just Absolutepunk either…it’s everyone. It amazes me how many terrific female-fronted bands out there are largely ignored. To me, this scene has always been a boys club. I was just wondering what people thought about that.

3. Scott is on the money regarding Andy Tanner and The Decoration. However, I would argue that these are the least typically emo songs on the album. It’s interesting that Scott pans the majority of the album as being not emo (emo is “emotional hardcore”) but the two songs he praises are miles away from being emotional hardcore. Thoughts?

4. No mention of the Young Hearts either, which serve up an incredibly catchy slice of emo-pop-punk for your ears. Maybe a little sweet for some, but in my opinion a great song. And they have a bunch of other awesome tunes. Check em out here: http://www.myspace.com/youngheartsattack

5. I kind of agree about the I’m Fashion, You’re Victim song. However, note that Scott takes a not-so-subtle swipe at the AP.net readership with his comments about this band. That’s you, people. Any of you comment-posters upset by this? Cause I looked at the list of your favorite bands and you should be.

6. This comp deserves a little credit simply for exposing twelve unreleased songs from really good (in my opinion), virtually unknown bands from all around the world, including Spain, England and the Netherlands. No other label does that. Considering that everywhere you turn these days you’re getting the squeaky-clean, uninspired, industry haircut band du jour shoved down your throat, I would have thought you’d be psyched about something new and undiscovered. These songs were chosen on their own merits. Deep Elm doesn’t look at bios, press photos and fancy websites…they listen to the music and absolute anyone in the world can submit.

7. “What the fuck happened Deep Elm?” This is an interesting statement, especially considering his last three reviews of Deep Elm records (all within the past few months) are overwhelmingly positive:

* 500 miles to Memphis - http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=252580
“Half country twang, half raucous punk -- wholly innovative. Having set up camp in Cincinnati, the band is technically less than 500 miles from Memphis, but who's counting when you have as good an album as this.”

* Free Diamonds - http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=250411
“I would totally have dirty, dirty sex with tracks like "Hugs and Kisses" if it was at all possible. This band's charm is just so contagious.””

* Cover Your Tracks - http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=233184
“Surprise, surprise; Deep Elm has put out yet another incredible compilation. Eleven of the label’s active bands take songs from the label’s alumni and make them their own.”

Not that Scott isn’t allowed to pan something from the label he doesn’t like. I just thought it was an incredibly damning statement with which to begin a review, especially when he’s always been a vocal fan of Deep Elm.

While I’m the first to admit that this Deep Elm comp certainly isn’t “emo” like emo used to be (don’t you think if they received submissions from bands half as good as Appleseed Cast or Jazz June, they’d use them?) the label has never claimed to be a great definer of the genre. I quote…

“We believe any combination of songwriting, lyrics and live performance means something different to every listener. We have only intended to share with you the music that moves us and support these bands.”

To Deep Elm, the Emo Diaries has always been about exposing great music that stirs emotion…not great “emotional hardcore” that stirs emotion. To label it as such misses the entire point of the series, which is to provide a forum for great bands who fall under the extremely wide-reaching umbrella that is the emo genre. Of course, most of the bands I listed above as “read emo” certainly fall into that category, but if we cut it off there we would need to exclude other Emo Diaries notables like Jimmy Eat World, JeJune, Last Days of April, Logh and the aforementioned Appleseed Cast.

Emo 11 certainly an admittedly modern take on the style…but that’s more of a byproduct of today’s music scene than a conscious decision to ignore the genre’s forefathers. Sure, bands like Street Smart Cyclist and Algernon Cadwallader are definitely a jazzy, old-school throwback and groups like Tiny Hawks and Sinaloa inject some much needed intensity, inventiveness and sincerity into the more chaotic subset, but most are emulating something with a distinct 2007 slant. It’s not Deep Elm’s job to determine what is and isn’t emo; It’s their job to put out music they love from underground bands, plain and simple. If that’s what’s wrong with the label, I’m perfectly okay with it.
03:17 PM on 09/24/07
TheBaroness
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Scott, I agree with every word you've said here. This comp is such a fucking letdown, it's everything I feared it would be. Deep Elm are more or less a dead label to me after being my favorite for so long. Besides Settlefish, they really don't have any bands who interest me at all. It's a terrible shame.

Moreover, I was very disappointed with the packaging of this album. I decided to order a hard copy to file alongside the other 10 Chapters and lo and behold it came in a cardboard fucking slipcase. $12 for that? Give me a break. If you ask me Deep Elm should either clean up their act or bow out completely because right now they are a fucking joke, and obviously in trouble, not to mention a disgrace to the legacy of what was once one of the best labels in the indie scene.

And I refuse to believe midwestern emo is completely dead...
03:34 PM on 09/24/07
Rich Duncan
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Scott, I agree with every word you've said here. This comp is such a fucking letdown, it's everything I feared it would be. Deep Elm are more or less a dead label to me after being my favorite for so long. Besides Settlefish, they really don't have any bands who interest me at all. It's a terrible shame.

Moreover, I was very disappointed with the packaging of this album. I decided to order a hard copy to file alongside the other 10 Chapters and lo and behold it came in a cardboard fucking slipcase. $12 for that? Give me a break. If you ask me Deep Elm should either clean up their act or bow out completely because right now they are a fucking joke, and obviously in trouble, not to mention a disgrace to the legacy of what was once one of the best labels in the indie scene.

And I refuse to believe midwestern emo is completely dead...

Me either, though they are a putting alittle bit of a modern spin on it, Scott and I seem to find some awesome midwestern emo style bands almost everyday through bands we have made friends with through our label
03:59 PM on 09/24/07
Julia Conny
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Shaking it up, Mr. Irvine. I haven't listened to the comp much, but I absolutely love the This Drama track.
08:47 PM on 09/24/07
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Scott, I agree with every word you've said here. This comp is such a fucking letdown, it's everything I feared it would be. Deep Elm are more or less a dead label to me after being my favorite for so long. Besides Settlefish, they really don't have any bands who interest me at all. It's a terrible shame.

Moreover, I was very disappointed with the packaging of this album. I decided to order a hard copy to file alongside the other 10 Chapters and lo and behold it came in a cardboard fucking slipcase. $12 for that? Give me a break. If you ask me Deep Elm should either clean up their act or bow out completely because right now they are a fucking joke, and obviously in trouble, not to mention a disgrace to the legacy of what was once one of the best labels in the indie scene.

And I refuse to believe midwestern emo is completely dead...

Do you have any thoughts about the actual music on the record...or does the packing debacle prohibit you from thinking clearly on the issue? Tell us about some songs you like / dislike and why. Tell us your definition of emo. For that matter, why is it more valid that anyone else's? Talk about whether or not emo is even worth discussing, especially on a forum where the majority of the readership would probably dig the songs on Emo 11.

Or maybe you could write a few paragraphs about how you overpaid for this record by at least four bucks and how Deep Elm's current vision isn't aligned with your unquestioned musical brilliance.

Why do people take things so personally? I mean, I haven't bought a record from Dischord in years...but I respect them immensely, and I respect their decision to work with their current crop of bands (even though I think that Antelope kinda blows it). Seriously...can you imagine writing a letter to Ian MacKaye, chewing him out -- basically dismissing two decades of impossibly difficult work in an increasingly thankless field -- because he hasn't released a record you like in the past year? Get the fuck over yourself.

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