25 newer bands every 2000s emo fan needs to know
Within a week of announcing the lineup in January, Las Vegas festival When We Were Young quickly sold out three consecutive one-day editions of the fest, all with the same, very mid 2000s Warped Tour-style lineup, and the inaugural Emo's Not Dead Cruise sold right out with a similar lineup too. Combined with the rise of Elder Emo shirts and the It's Not A Phase meme, it's impossible to ignore that there's a lot of nostalgia for emo's most mainstream era floating around right now. It's true, emo is neither dead nor a phase -- plenty of the bands playing WWWY and the Emo's Not Dead Cruise have continued to tour and/or release good music well past the end of the mid 2000s emo boom (like Paramore, Jimmy Eat World, Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Glassjaw, Thursday, AFI, Alkaline Trio, Bright Eyes, and Manchester Orchestra - to name a few) -- but the real reason emo never died is that tons of great new emo and emo-related bands formed over the years, regardless of whether or not major labels, radio, and magazine covers were paying attention. There was a massive wave of great emo bands throughout the 2010s (which festival lineups like WWWY and Emo's Not Dead largely ignored), and there have been even more who started to take off in the past couple years. There's nothing wrong with a little nostalgia, and there are of course a ton of great bands playing WWWY and Emo's Not Dead, but nostalgia doesn't have to define this genre. There are too many good new bands out there to live in the past forever.
Today's emo and emo-related bands may not be as visible as the mid 2000s Warped Tour bands were -- all you had to do back then to find them was turn on MTV, or KROQ, or walk into a Hot Topic -- but they're out there, and they're great, and they deserve as much attention as they can get. If you're nostalgic for the kind of stuff on the WWWY and Emo's Not Dead lineups and want some suggestions for new stuff to listen to, we've made a list of 25 newer bands we think every 2000s emo fan should check out. They're not all 100% emo -- some lean more towards pop punk or post-hardcore or metalcore or other related genres -- but that's how it worked during emo's mainstream era too. There's already enough emo gatekeeping going on without us adding more fuel to that fire; we're not looking to start arguments about subgenres, we're just hoping to turn people onto some new bands. (And I included a "for fans of" for each one and tried to keep them as 2000s-friendly as possible.)
With so much great stuff happening in this world lately, 25 bands is a small snapshot, but we're just hoping the list points some people in the right direction. Feel free to leave more bands in the comments, and browse our 'In Defense of the Genre' column for way more coverage of bands in this realm.
Read on for the list, in alphabetical order...
For fans of: The Starting Line, New Found Glory, The Wonder Years
From the 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: Their Pure Noise debut Pulling Focus offers up the kind of glossy yet hardcore-informed pop punk that dominated Drive-Thru Records in the early 2000s and bands like The Wonder Years and The Story So Far in the early 2010s, and Action/Adventure are one of the best new bands in that realm that I've heard in years. They scratch all the right itches -- they're impossibly tight, every song is a pit-starter, and the hooks are sugar-sweet -- and they also avoid lyrical pop punk clichés in favor of anti-racist anthems like "Barricades," which has quickly become the band's signature song.
For fans of: Taking Back Sunday, Jimmy Eat World, Saves The Day
From our interview with Anxious: It's an emo album that's in touch with the genre's gritty hardcore roots but also full of sparkly clean production, gorgeous harmonies, layered arrangements, and forays outside of punk entirely. The harmony-fueled acoustic ballad "Wayne" and the dream pop-inspired "You When You're Gone" (with guest vocals by Stella Branstool) are among the prettiest guitar pop songs you'll hear this year, and just when you think Anxious have gone soft, they'll break out a Title Fight/Movielife-esque ripper like "Speechless" or "Let Me" to remind you where they came from. The best parts, though, fall somewhere in between. The soaring tracks at the top half of the album ("Your One Way Street," "In April," "Growing Up Song," "More Than A Letter") are when Anxious sound like a band that could've ruled the airwaves in the era of Bleed American and Stay What You Are.
For fans of: The Early November, Armor For Sleep, Finch
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: Everything Nice envisions a world where emo-pop and underground emo never diverged, one where atmosphere and experimentation and sugary pop punk could go hand in hand. It's an EP that would've sounded just as at home on Drive-Thru in 2003 as it would have on No Sleep in 2013, and it still sounds remarkable today too.
For fans of: Hopesfall, Poison The Well, Hum
From our 40 Great Punk EPs, Splits & Singles from 2021: Hum-inspired heavy shoegaze and Ferret Records style post-hardcore have both been having major comebacks lately, but I'm not sure I can think of many bands who do both of those things at once like Philly band ASkySoBlack do on their debut EP What Is Yet To Come?. It not only nails a balance between nostalgic and innovative, ASkySoBlack also really have the songs. Too many shoegazy bands layer on the effects to cover up weak songwriting, but the melodies and Jordan Shteif's soaring voice make these feel like songs we'll be singing along to for years to come.
For fans of: Further Seems Forever, The Get Up Kids, The Progress
From our track review of "Munck": ...one of the best new emo songs I've heard in recent memory. Pulling from screamy post-hardcore, knotty Midwest emo, hooky pop punk, a post-rocky buildup and more, it gets a lot done in five minutes, and Carly Cosgrove keep you at the edge of your seat for the entire ride. The song is the first taste of the band's upcoming album See You In Chemstry (due 3/25 via Wax Bodega), and if they've got more songs like this one up their sleeves, this album is gonna mean business.
Crash The Calm
For fans of: Thrice, Brand New, Manchester Orchestra
From our album review of A Town Named Nowhere: Most of the bands A Town Named Nowhere reminds me of released significant records in the mid 2000s, and this can often feel like a lost album from that era, but it also reminds you that the art rock-leaning emo and progressive post-hardcore of that era is still full of untapped potential. That was an exciting, unique era, where bands that benefitted from the pop punk-friendly emo boom wanted to do something a little more experimental, and that wave died down just as it was getting really interesting. Crash The Calm feel less like a revival, and more like a continuation.
For fans of: Thrice, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Receiving End of Sirens
From our review of Twisted World Perspective: The album's metalcore/mathcore side brings to mind bands like Botch, Norma Jean, and Every Time I Die, and it also embraces the howled clean vocals and proggy post-hardcore of a band like The Receiving End of Sirens. They also pepper in bits of The Blood Brothers' sassy chaos, The Fall of Troy's flashy leads, and emo-pop hooks that wouldn't feel out of place on the early 2000s Victory Records catalog. Sometimes they remind me of The Illusion of Safety-era Thrice, other times they remind me of The Dillinger Escape Plan. They clearly pull from a lot of different places, but similar to cohorts like The Callous Daoboys (whose Amber Christman plays violin on "Cell Dmg") and For Your Health (who they're sharing a bill with in Ohio soon), they connect dots from the past 20+ years of hardcore-adjacent music with fresh perspective.
For Your Health
For fans of: Thursday, Fear Before the March of Flames, At the Drive In
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: In Spite Of is a genre-defying album that pulls from the grindy chaos of The Locust and Daughters, the shapeshifting progressive hardcore of Fear Before the March of Flames, the theatrical post-hardcore of At the Drive In, and the sugary emo-pop of My Chemical Romance. It goes from its hookiest moments to its most abrasive moments at the drop of a hat, and it never stays in one place for long. In Spite Of is a whirlwind of harsh screams, soaring clean vocals, tech-y guitars, and busy drums, and it's all topped off by Hayden Rodriguez's verbose poetry, which ranges from observant and introspective to scathingly political. It feels like a highlight reel of 2000s post-hardcore, from its most caustic underground bands to its catchiest mainstream bands, and For Your Health connect the dots in ways that no one back then ever really did.
Pick up In Spite Of on color vinyl.
For fans of: Paramore, Circa Survive, Turnover
From our 45 Best Punk Albums of 2020: On their debut album, Portland's Glacier Veins have bundled ultra catchy mid 2000s pop punk-style hooks with atmospheric, post-rocky guitars and a more modern indie-emo vibe, and the result is one of the most irresistible punk debuts of the year. It's as nostalgia-inducing as it is fresh and new, and it's an album I just could not stop coming back to. Songs like "Feel Better Now" and "Everything Glows" would've been huge alt-rock hits if they came out in 2005, and they sounded pretty damn great in 2020 too.
Glacier Veins also just announced a new album.
For fans of: Jimmy Eat World, Third Eye Blind, The Jealous Sound
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: Jail Socks' debut LP rolls the past 25 years of emo and pop punk into one concise 11-song album, and it shoots it all back out like a bottle rocket. You could picture this album sounding just as at home on Drive-Thru in 2001 as it would have on Run For Cover in 2011, and it fits in perfectly on leading DIY emo label Counter Intuitive in 2021 too. It touches on so many different thrills, from arena-sized pop punk to basement-dwelling Midwest emo, from throat-shredding melodic hardcore to gentle balladry and acoustic emo, and Jail Socks have the enduring, unforgettable songs to rival many of the bands that paved the way for them.
Johnny Football Hero
For fans of: Glassjaw, The Blood Brothers, The Fall of Troy
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: Back in the early 2000s, bands like At the Drive In, Glassjaw, and The Blood Brothers helped give birth to an entire generation of post-hardcore bands with flamboyant, theatrical singers -- if you were part of a punk scene, there's a good chance you encountered at least one of them. Philly's Johnny Football Hero sound like they could've been one of those bands if they formed 20 years ago, but they also incorporate much more, from the knotty Midwest emo that predated that era to the lo-fi indie vibes of modern emo. They sound built for basement shows, but their hooks and guitar solos are big enough to fill arenas
For fans of: Coheed & Cambria, mewithoutYou, The Receiving End of Sirens
From our interview with Kaonashi: With Dear Lemon House, You Ruined Me: Senior Year, Kaonashi do justice to the long lineage of post-hardcore bands that Equal Vision have put out over the years, and they do it by being just as groundbreaking as their forebears. This doesn't sound like a revival of 2000s post-hardcore; it sounds like the future. They consider themselves to be one part emo, one part mathcore, with the dramatic melancholy of the former and the elaborate instrumentation of the latter, and that absolutely comes across in the music. Peter's expressive delivery is like almost no one else in the game, and in addition to his trademark shouting, he also graces Dear Lemon House with soaring, powerful clean vocals. It's the band's most well thought-out release yet, and their most accessible, and it also ups the absolute chaos and fury that Kaonashi won people over with on Why Did You Do It?. It's a reminder that bands can get catchier and more batshit all at once; they don't have to settle for one or the other.
For fans of: The Movielife, Taking Back Sunday, Crime In Stereo
From our 40 Great Punk EPs, Splits & Singles from 2021: Long Island emo is back, baby. Not that Long Island ever stopped having emo bands, but that classic, distinct Long Island emo sound -- the one solidified by LI gods Silent Majority and brought to the mainstream by bands like The Movielife and Crime In Stereo -- is having a real moment right now and Koyo are at the forefront of it. The members are all deeply ingrained in the hardcore scene, and they bring that spirit to their records and shows, but Koyo reach for the cathartic, yearning melodies that made Long Island emo reach the hearts of hundreds of thousands of kids worldwide, and Drives Out East feels as exciting today as Koyo's forebears did two decades ago.
Meet Me @ The Altar
For fans of: Paramore, Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: Meet Me @ The Altar sound like they're ready to take over the world. They embrace the arena-sized pop punk that (their current label) Fueled by Ramen put out in the mid 2000s, chuggy easycore, and the more atmospheric approach of a lot of modern emo/punk, and they fuse it all into something that sounds larger than life. Edith Johnson sings every song like she's playing a packed arena and singing to the people in the nosebleeds, and the rest of the band sound like they're constantly trying to make the walls shake. The entire Model Citizen EP is so loudly and unabashedly poppy that it might ruffle the feathers of some punk purists, but their loss -- this is some of the most genuine, energizing music released all year.
Side note: Meet Me @ The Altar are playing When We Were Young Fest.
For fans of: Motion City Soundtrack, Weezer, The Early November's triple album
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: Origami Angel have just two members, and vocalist Ryland Heagy recorded and produced the whole 20-song album in his bedroom, which presumably contributed to the charmingly raw vibe. And Origami Angel used this humble home recording to deliver everything from Midwest emo noodling to classic rock shredding to power pop hooks to acoustic passages to trap beats to bossa nova to easycore breakdowns, and that doesn't even cover all of it. They've got a loud, energetic, excited sound throughout, like they're playing what could be their last show ever, and you get the sense that that show would be in a basement but Origami Angel would treat it like Madison Square Garden.
Pick up GAMI GANG on color vinyl.
For fans of: My Chemical Romance, Paramore, AFI
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: The influence of major 2000s melodic punk bands like Paramore and My Chemical Romance shine through loud and clear, and Pinkshift reshape those influences into something that sounds urgent and fresh within the context of today's DIY indie-punk scene. The songs all feel like they could be hits, and best of all, Pinkshift rip. Ashrita Kumar has a soaring, sneering voice that allows her to turn these catchy songs into punk anthems, the rhythm section is airtight, and the secret weapon just might be guitarist Paul Vallejo, whose shredding solos are just as arena-sized and heroic as Ashrita's choruses.
For fans of: Thursday, Saosin, Alexisonfire
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: ...incorporating a ton of different sounds from all across the post-hardcore spectrum, from harsh screamo to anthemic clean-sung emo, from post-rocky climaxes to sludgy breakdowns. It's some of the heaviest, prettiest, and catchiest music released in this realm all year, and -- at least in America -- some of the most underrated too. If you've been clamoring for a new Thursday or Pianos Become the Teeth record and you haven't heard this, change that now.
For fans of: Thursday, Converge, Touche Amore
From our 45 Best Punk Albums of 2020: Their Topshelf debut I Owe You Nothing is their best and most honest record yet. It fully embraces the screamo direction that Record Setter began going in on 2017's Purge without fully abandoning their more melodic emo roots, and it's a towering, intense album where almost every song segues directly into the next, making for an ambitious piece of art that needs to be listened to from start to finish. Judy Mitchell's scream is as throat-shredding as it is emotive and accessible, and her powerful lyrics touch on themes of gender dysphoria and self-worth in a way that leaves you hanging on every word.
For fans of: My Chemical Romance, Thursday, The Used
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: Yes, Save Face's sophomore LP sounds a lot like My Chemical Romance, but underneath the surface-level comparisons (an emo-goes-Queen rock opera with theatrical vocals, Broadway pianos, and more), it's clear that Save Face bring their own flair to this ambitious, widely appealing, spectacularly over-the-top sound. Tyler Povanda has a very distinct voice, and his melodies on this album really stick. And it's become overwhelmingly clear this year that Save Face are the full package. From the music videos to the live show to the art direction, Save Face have built an entire universe around these songs.
See Through Person
For fans of: The Fall of Troy, Pierce the Veil, Damiera
From our 40 Great Punk EPs, Splits & Singles from 2021: See Through Person severely leveled up this year. It was only a year ago that the Florida band were making scrappy Midwest-style emo on their Chariot EP, but there's nothing "scrappy" about Sun. It's harder, sharper, cleaner, and it blends the band's DIY emo roots with the mathy post-hardcore of bands like The Fall of Troy and Damiera. If that sounds exciting on paper, wait until you hear it in execution.
For fans of: Underoath, Senses Fail, The Blood Brothers
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: The metalcore revival is in full swing, and there's no question that SeeYouSpaceCowboy revive a ton of sounds from the early/mid 2000s -- from straight-up metalcore to sass, screamo, emo-pop, post-hardcore and beyond -- but nobody back then ever really sounded like SeeYouSpaceCowboy and nobody now does either. They use familiar tricks in unexpected ways; from harsh screams to clean-sung hooks, shimmering clean guitars to bludgeoning chugs, conventional song structure to chaos, SeeYouSpaceCowboy do it all, and you never really know when something's gonna come in and what they're gonna do next.
Pick up The Romance of Affliction on color vinyl.
For fans of: The Movielife, Taking Back Sunday, Crime In Stereo
From our 40 Great Punk EPs, Splits & Singles from 2021: Koyo aren't the only band who did justice to Silent Majority-core in 2021; their neighbors Stand Still also breathed new life into that sound with their debut EP A Practice In Patience. There's no question that these guys collectively own a few worn-out copies of Life Of A Spectator, but when the songs are this instantly-satisfying, who cares if you wear your influences on your sleeves? Like Koyo, Stand Still harness the power of hardcore, but those choruses would've had Victory Records knocking at their door 20 years ago.
For fans of: Underoath, The Used, Saosin
From our review of Prologue...: Prologue... finds Static Dress hearkening back to mid 2000s era Underoath and also fitting right in with newer bands like SeeYouSpaceCowboy. It goes from crushingly heavy to weird and experimental to bright and catchy, and Static Dress already have the precision and the confidence of a band on their third album. They sound (and look) like they would've been huge in 2005, and they make this kind of music feel just as exciting in 2021 as it was back then.
For fans of: Taking Back Sunday, Thursday, Thrice
From our 45 Best Punk Albums of 2020: We're over a decade into the "emo revival," and just when you might think the genre's latest wave has reached its saturation point, a band like Stay Inside comes along and breathes new life into it. They pull from all throughout emo's history, from raw '90s screamo to the cathartic choruses of the mid 2000s to the indie rock-adjacent vibe of the "revival" era, and they stir it all together and deliver it in a way that could only happen right now. They make connections between all of the various eras and subgenres of emo that you can only see with hindsight, and they write undeniable songs in the process.
For fans of: Atreyu, Glassjaw, Darkest Hour
From our 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021: When melodic metalcore exploded in the early 2000s, it was often tied right in with emo-pop, but Wristmeetrazor imagine a much darker, gothier version of that genre. Their sophomore LP Replica of a Strange Love is full of infectious riffs that sound like the best parts of the Trustkill/Ferret Records era, but their soaring hooks and creepy industrial sections bring to mind White Pony era Deftones and Downward Spiral era Nine Inch Nails. The ingredients are all familiar, but rarely combined like this, and it's a testament to Wristmeetrazor's power that they're able to offer up such time-tested thrills in a way that genuinely feels innovative.
Pick up Replica of a Strange Love on color vinyl.
Listen to a playlist with one song by each band:
For more emo-related coverage, browse the 'In Defense of the Genre' archives.