Here are 10 new bands who restored our faith in emo, chosen by Dreamwell.
All scenes have their ebbs and flows and emo is very much one of them. Enjoying a more mainstream breakout in the 2000s, once the biggest stars either broke up (My Chemical Romance) or went full-blown pop (Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy) and the fans entered early adulthood, it all kind of fizzled out.
But that's okay, because who doesn't love a redemption arc? Not just for the old scene, but the newer artists who populate it, validate its lasting impact and influence and give us hope for emo's future.
Dreamwell are one of those bands who are (forgive us) keeping the scene dream alive and thriving. It's why we invited guitarists Ryan Couitt and bassist Justin Soares to single out some of the best new emo bands around right now.
As for what they bring to the table, get a taste by listening to "Obelisk of Hands" below.
Dreamwell, "Obelisk of Hands" Music Video
"We invested an insane amount of detail and care into every aspect of this album and cannot wait to share it with you," begins vocalist KZ Staska, who continues "In My Saddest Dreams, I Am Beside You is an exploration of interpersonal relationships and how they are impacted by mental illness, particularly Borderline Personality Disorder, and employs a loose conceptual narrative following a character caught in a waking dream, viewing every aspect of his life through the lens of a heavily distorted reality and struggling to escape from his paranoid nightmares."
In My Saddest Dreams, I Am Beside You, Dreamwell's second album, drops on Oct. 20 through Prosthetic Records.
Now, let Ryan Couitt and Justin Soares tell you all about 10 new bands who restored our faith in emo!
Follow Dreamwell on Instagram, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Bandcamp. See all of their upcoming tour dates here and head to this location to get your copy of their new album.
This is the easiest choice to make.
I discovered the Blockbussa and As the Sea Engulfs Us EPs during the early days of Dreamwell and was hooked instantly. They uniquely brought so much variety into the emo/screamo genre with those releases, and have only gotten tighter.
I was fortunate enough to catch them in Allston during their Offseason era, shortly after they parted ways with Bartees Strange, and was blown away by the addition of Chris Lawless. His guitar tone and backup vocals, albeit very different from the artist he replaced, are so versatile and have added so much to a band I already loved.
Reaching out to plan a tour with them was one of the best decisions I’ve made because now we all know their music and what amazing people Johns, Lawless, Vish, and Brynn (queen of the big bass riff) are. I can’t wait until they share what they’ve been working on with everyone.
I don’t think I’ve ever successfully pronounced Rhombithian, and I certainly know that I was not ready for how hard that album would hit me. I don’t want to call them sincere for obvious reasons, but there’s an unabashed honesty in their lyrics that is a cornerstone of the genre and they achieve that to the same degree as legendary emo acts such as Into It. Over It. and You Blew It!.
Those lyrics are delivered in such an array of tones from clean singing to a gravely yell that has become a trademark quality of theirs. They’ve released so much great music over the years, and every time they do there is an inevitable message between Ryan and I asking the other if they’ve listened to the new Sincere Engineer track.
This year was a bit of a special one as we got a whole album of new music (Cheap Grills) that we’ve both been devouring. Years later, it is still impossible for this PhD drop out to listen to “Overbite” without turning up the volume.
I stumbled across this band just before I moved to Iowa for grad school and was excited to find that I would be nearby them. They are not a happy go lucky emo band. They dive head first into heavyhearted lyrics accompanied with waves of reverb that build until they pour over into
Like Dreamwell, they’ve probably been compared to La Dispute, and, like us, the comparison is undeniably a compliment, but an imperfect one. They remind me more of bands such as Gates and Acceptance with post influences and a willingness to embrace space and crescendos, but with enough twinkle for me to consider crowbarring them into a list of emo bands. I hope that they continue the success of their Cardinal EP with a full length soon.
Even with how much variety exists within a genre as encompassing as emo, it isn’t the only genre I would attribute to Home is Where. When thinking of bands that are advancing the genre it’s impossible not to acknowledge their contributions.
They blend the folky chaos of Neutral Milk Hotel, the wayward wandering feeling typically reserved for Modest Mouse songs and so much more in a way that makes them truly unique.
We were fortunate enough to play with them, and, regardless of how much of an appreciation we had for them before, it was impossible not to be blown away by how much energy they brought to their live performance. It was impossible to walk away from The Whaler without singing, “Skin meadow, skin meadow” to yourself. Can you listen to “Yes! Yes! A Thousand Times Yes!” and not want to soak up the sun?
I wasn’t going to mention them since they are not a newer band and haven’t been the most active in recent years, but there is no band that has restored my faith in emo more than Prawn.
They are the quintessential emo band capable of incorporating noodly riffs, warm ambiance, swells of reverb, horn parts, the occasional yell and driving bass riffs.
To this day I cannot listen to them without wanting to start an emo side project. They’ve featured alongside Joie de Vivre, who are emo legends in their own right. Kingfisher has been with me for so many different parts of my life and still evokes the same emotions in me every time I listen to it. They’re easily one of my favorite bands, and I’m eagerly awaiting the day that they return to making music and playing live.
The summer I graduated high school, United By Birdcalls came out and I had caught Hodera on tour with the band Sports at a tiny show in Fitchburg, Massachuesetts. I had never even heard of Hodera up until then and they quickly became one of my most listened to artists.
The bassist actually caught his forehead on a cymbal a few songs into the set and finished the show with blood running down his face.
Hodera introduced me to whole new subgenre of emo I’ve once heard described as “farm emo” — emo with just a perfect amount of twang (a lot of bands out of the New Jersey scene seem to fit this bill).
Lyrical topics touch on deep depressions and substance abuse and just trying to get better while dealing with family and interpersonal relationships. Matthew Smiths’ words hit hard with heartache and each album has left me in tears time and time again.
I was absolutely heartbroken when Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) had ceased to exist and had particularly been bummed out over it the last few years, so the birth of Mt. Oriander was everything I needed at just the right time.
I love any project that Keith Latinen is a part of, but I find Mt. Oriander to be the closest to E!E! lyrically. The storytelling style of lyrics always drew me in and I feel as if you’re thrown straight into the scenes being sung. There’s this real sense of nostalgia happening as well, like replaying memories in your mind.
“$5 Subtweet” was my introduction to Pool Kids — punny song names, tappy riffs and grooves… What else do you need?
I was not ready for their self-titled album. It’s really one of those albums where you get excited for the rest based off of the first song. Pool Kids excite me because they’re really accessible in the sense I feel like I could show it to any normie and they would dig it.
The guitar work is really beautiful, the songwriting is insane and the production is so solid without feeling over the top. I can see this band having a “Turnstile effect” as far as bringing new fans to the table and bringing more than just pop to the mainstream.
Same deal as Pool Kids, honestly — this band is just too talented and incredibly tight.
You have “Dog Song” that’s really upbeat and catchy or songs such as “Diamond Eyes” that are more delicate and brooding. I’m really excited to see where this band goes having hit the ground running so hard with Where the Heart Is.
Top Shelf Records has led me to so many great bands, but T/T/T really took my heart.
Sure, it helps that every member has been in their own handfuls of legendary emo bands but whether Mike Kinsella is or isn’t in the band anymore doesn’t matter because you’re still just left with anti-Into It. Over It.
The bass tone on “There / They’re / Three” is from another world — it’s almost comical how heavy it sounds at first within the mix of twinkle rock, but it really is just one of the greatest recorded bass tones I’ve ever heard.
I love all the small intricacies that they add within their playing too. I had learned “572 Cuthbert Blvd” on acoustic guitar at one point by ear and wore my fingers raw playing it because I kept realizing small details I hadn’t noticed from only listening to it.