3. The Promise Ring, 'Nothing Feels Good' (1997)
A month before the Promise Ring released their career-defining Nothing Feels Good, singer and guitarist Davey von Bohlen summarized the band's second album for the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal: "The basic idea is that you think you know things, but really you never know." With Nothing Feels Good the Promise Ring barreled into the unknown with ecstatic poise, and in the process pulled emo towards its pop future. The Promise Ring played pop like a hardcore band with a fondness for doo-wop – or maybe they played punk like a pop group led by an adrenaline junkie. Meanwhile von Bohlen's lyrics captured the indefinable dilemmas of a 20-something better than most mumblecore films. L.G.