40 Greatest Emo Albums of All Time

C'mon get sad: the best of punk rock's moody younger sibling

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Moss Icon, 'Lyburnum Wits End Liberation Fly' (1994)

30. Moss Icon, 'Lyburnum Wits End Liberation Fly' (1994)

The louder, faster, more discordant subgenre "screamo" had a bicoastal genesis. In California, there was the small-but-vital scene forming around indie labels Gravity and Ebullition, while on the East Coast, the lone Maryland band Moss Icon stood peerless. Recorded in 1988 but not released until 1994, Lyburnum Wits End Liberation Fly still sounds ahead of its time. The band tempers its breakneck punk with guitar skree and dynamics shaped by British post-punk and goth, without directly tipping a hat to either. Lyrically, the songs take on white, male, American imperialism – "emo" in intensity, but far removed from the self-absorption that defined their contemporaries and followers. In a 2012 interview with Brooklyn Vegan, guitarist Tonie Joy explained, "Our inspiration came from life for the most part, [especially] the fucked-up aspects of human existence … Very little, if any, inspiration came from punk/hardcore, except for the D.I.Y. way of doing things … We just thought we were a 'rock' band." A.B.

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