24. Embrace, 'Embrace' (1987)
Looking back on Washington, D.C. hardcore, even the band names are telling in their divisive and confrontational nature: Minor Threat, Chalk Circle, Iron Cross, State of Alert. But 1985 brought Embrace. Fronted by Dischord records cofounder and ex-Minor Threat vocalist Ian MacKaye (later of Fugazi), the band lasted just nine months before imploding – ironically, due to personality conflicts. But their lone album drew a line in the sand between hardcore's tough-guy posturing and unfettered, all-inclusive self-expression. Where Minor Threat dealt in power chords, velocity and finger pointing, Embrace is a jangling, mid-tempo effort that finds MacKaye singing vulnerably, pointing the finger at himself. The skate magazine Thrasher dubbed the sound "emo-core" in a review of the album, but MacKaye countered, calling it, "the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard in my entire life." A.B.