40 Greatest Emo Albums of All Time

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

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Rites of Spring, 'Rites of Spring' (1985)
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2. Rites of Spring, 'Rites of Spring' (1985)

The term "emo" itself started life as an insult hurled at this Washington, D.C. quartet – a barb used by punks who scoffed at Rites of Spring's convention-defying hardcore. The band's eponymous debut album evoked love, sadness, longing, confusion – none of the alpha-male absolutism that had made Eighties hardcore the province of jocks and thugs. Minor chords, dramatic pauses, vocals that sounded terminally on the verge of tears (and, live, sometimes coming to them): Yeah, this was emotional, all right. And, as the musical movement dubbed "Revolution Summer" swept D.C. in 1985, other punks saw Rites of Spring as inspiration for their own emotional liberty. But to the band members – two of which, singer Guy Picciotto and drummer Brendan Canty, would later form the equally revolutionary Fugazi – codifying a new sound was purely coincidental. "I've never recognized 'emo' as a genre of music," Picciotto told Mark Prindle in 2002. "What, like the Bad Brains weren't emotional? What – they were robots or something? It just doesn't make any sense to me." A.B.

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