Emo: perhaps the most disdained sub-strain of the punk rock empire to emerge in the last decade. Characterized by mostly-terrible “sensitive” lyrics and a penchant for seeking sympathy, fewer and fewer bands adhere themselves to the genre’s label, while many more attempt to distance themselves out of embarrassment for the categorization, yet without giving up any of the signature emblems of the style, i.e. nerdy sartorial decisions (black-rimmed glasses and sweaters) and cheesy lyrics.
Most emo compilations this sort of music border on noxious—a few decent tracks surrounded by lesser imitators and overall refuse. Surprisingly, Nowcore! is one of the better emo compilations I’ve heard, if only for the fact that I was familiar with a fair amount of the material, most of it previously released on the individual bands’ albums. Once getting past the atrociously pretentious liner notes (“This is art being made for reasons that transcend all the trappings of the modern music industry.” Get over yourself), this pu-pu platter contains quality catches from the catchier side of the genre, namely groups like The Promise Ring (cheesy but infectious), Braid (Promise Ring knock-offs), Modest Mouse (Built to Spill progeny), At the Drive-In, Knapsack, as well as other bands that dole out the rock without any false pretenses like Seaweed, Samiam, Drive Like Jehu, and Unwound (none of which, I would really classify as “emo” anyway). Basically, this is a collection of catchy rock ‘n’ roll afraid of calling itself rock ‘n’ roll.
Nowcore! is fittingly released on K-Tel, a label renowned for its hastily assembled compilations from the ‘70s that showcased the hip flash-in-the pans of the era (and now available at garage sales and thrift stores). Personally, I’m a big fan of 22 Greats from 1973, which features The Sweet, Foster Sylvers, Bill Hammond III, The Rasberries, and Barry White. K-Tel rightfully presses on into Today with Nowcore!, which will hopefully be looked upon, if not for the music, at the the work ethic behind the label.