An Intro To Chicago Emo Revival : Part Four

Fuck it, let’s call it fifth wave (2018-Present)

We have finally reached the end of our journey in exploring Chicago’s emo revival. The starting point of this new era may differ depending on who you are talking to. And Its becoming even harder to define with all of the fifth wave talk that has emerged this year. What is clear is that by 2018, the scene went back to where it was 10 years ago — an underground venture for and by the kids.

Chicago’s place in the scene isn’t nearly as firm as it once was. Some bands are beginning to emerge from here recently but are already moving to new cities. It’s partially a result of an unspoken truth for Chicago’s music scene. The strength of it is dependent on who moves here and who stays in a given year.

Hospital Bracelet (2019-Present)

Hospital Bracelet is in line with many acts that pop up in the history of Chicago emo. It started off as an acoustic project for singer Eric Cristopher, which you can hear on Neutrality Acoustic. The only difference is that Cristopher was able to accrue a following because of their sheer magnetism that pours out on the EP. You can hear the pop songs that want to burst out on “happy birthday” for example. A full band would crystalize in 2020 with the single “sober haha jk unless”, and really highlights how much of a powerhouse the vocals in particular are. A year later Hospital Bracelet finally released their debut record South Loop Summer on Counter Intuitive Records, delivering on the promise that was always there from the start.

Thank You, I’m Sorry (2019-Present)

Though Thank You, I’m Sorry is now based in Minneapolis, their origin story is inextricable from Chicago. The Malta House is a reference to the village of the same name, lying about an hour outside of Chicago. Its an admirable start for the band and a great launching off point but the songs are begging for a full band treatment, thanks in part to the spacious guitar chords that singer and guitarist Colleen Dow employs. You can see the difference when I’m Glad We’re Friends comes out only six months later, bringing in reworked versions of old songs along with some new additions.

Your Arms Are My Cocoon (2020-Present)

Your Arms Are My Cocoon is one of the most exciting acts going right now. Their self-titled debut actually feels novel, blending bedroom lo-fi and screamo into something wholly different. I have no problem calling it a landmark record even though it only came out last September. The fans of it are extremely passionate, adorning tattoos of the cover art and selling out cassette runs within small amounts of time. It’s the kind of record that will inspire the next generation of kids to pick up an instrument and try to top what Tyler Odom, the person behind Your Arms Are My Cocoon did.

Mt Pocono (2017–2020)

Mt Pocono is the house show incarnate, here to soundtrack the best night of your life. I say that partially in jest, but for the scene they occupied in Elgin, a suburb outside Chicago, they were the center of the universe. The house shows the band put together were billed as the Kitchen Beatdown — where they played with the likes of Short Fictions, Stars Hollow, and Niiice. Their music was the right amount of playful, not taking themselves too seriously. That playfulness comes across best on Fear of the Savanna, Terror of the Suburbs, their final EP before breaking up in early 2020.

Heccra (2012-Present)

Even though Heccra didn’t form anywhere near the allotted time this part covers, their contributions are way too important to the modern emo scene to leave out. They occupy a very similar space as Weatherday, not fitting into what emo classicists would accept as part of the genre, leaving me to place it under the umbrella of post-emo. It’s extremely chaotic, sounding like if Glass Beach took its cues from screamo. What’s even more impressive is that the project dates all the way back to 2013 and is just as progressive today as it was when Heccra was just starting.

Snow Ellet (2021-Present)

Snow Ellet comes from the school of Oso Oso and the pop rock of the early 2000’s. You can hear touches of The Yunahon Mixtape on the track “to some i’m genius” with the way the vocals are layered and how he stacks the multiple guitar tracks together. But it thankfully never goes into strictly copycat territory, still retaining its own distinctive voice, making suburban indie rock star an impressive debut.

Park National (2020-Present)

In an era without live shows, the one person Bandcamp project is thriving more than ever. All the hype for artists now exists online, making some of the typical obstacles that exists for musicians easier to bypass. You don’t need to necessarily be a part of a music scene to break through. Liam Fagan, who goes by the moniker of Park National is one example, releasing The Big Glad in 2020, an album full of pop hooks that’s informed by emo of the mid to late 2010’s. “How to Stop Caring” is reminiscent of Macseal and Oso Oso, trying to make sense of the mental health struggles that happen with the transition from high school to adulthood. The album name is even a hint at the lyrical content, asking the very simple question on the opening track, “why be sad when you can be glad”.

Sad Witches (2018-Present)

Sad Witches started as a bridge for guitarist Nic Campa, as his orgcore leaning band Otto Mann was beginning to come to a close. It would take several years but a lineup would start to converge and finally came together in 2018, opening for Mollow’s record release show. From there Sad Witches would release a promising 2019 demo, playing in the terrain of Rainer Marina and other emo pop that emerged in the 2000’s.

Rust Ring (2017-Present)

I have to admit that this one is hard to talk about objectively. I consider several of the members to be friends and artistic colleagues of mine, but Rust Ring occupies an interesting space in the emo scene, never breaking out but still being idiosyncratic in the type of music they make. It originally started as a way for singer Joram Zbichorski to write more melodic music outside of their math rock band Snort, recruiting William Covert (Space Blood, Droughts) and Kyle Geib (Sincere Engineer, Lifted Bells, Dog & Wolf) to help fill out the sound. Blackout is the breakout song on their two song cassingle debut, released in 2017, melding slowcore and pop to tell the story of a breakup.

And with the start of Rust Ring also comes the formation of the label Worry Records, run by Zbichorsk iand Joslyn Vosta, an artist in her own right, whose designs you will see plastered over Kickstand Production flyers. They most notably put out a tape for Retirement Party’s debut but that only tells a little piece of their story. Worry Records essentially functions the same way all DIY labels do — to put out their friends records, and ends up having a wide variety of stuff, ranging from ska to post-punk.

If you want the full spectrum of the bands I covered in the series I made a playlist of the artists that are on Spotify down below.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoy what you read, please consider giving me a tip on Venmo (Hugo-Reyes-6). I do these articles out of love and without any chance of payment for the hours of labor that goes into each part of this series.

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