5. Braid, 'Frame and Canvas' (1998)
Braid weren't shy about their Washington, D.C. emo influences – the Illinois quintet's first two albums were practically homages to Rites of Spring and Jawbox. The band's propensity for wearing its heart on its sleeve, however, is what makes Frame & Canvas so compelling. Written and recorded during a particularly tense touring cycle, Braid's third album is a bittersweet lamentation on homesickness, long-distance love and, in standouts such as "Breathe In," surfacing tension between singers/guitarists Chris Broach and Bob Nanna. Producer (and Jawbox/Burning Airlines alum) J. Robbins' mix brings drummer Damon Atkinson's wild, asymmetric grooves to the surface, elevating the songs beyond standard-issue melodic hardcore, while the D.C. worship gets subsumed under a new, uniquely Midwestern sound that would mark Braid's own influence on the generation that followed. A.B.