Spavid, Spavid (Cash Cow, 1993)
I can't remember what the hell I was trying to find when YouTube included this option in its recommendations the other day—surprising given that the clip has but a mere 13 views as I type this—but I ended up clicking on it because the artwork caught my eye and seemed intriguing. Lo and behold, I listened to about 30 seconds of it before quickly shuffling off to Discogs to buy a physical copy. This Buffalo, NY trio explores that soft/loud/soft again/loud again brand of rugged indie rock that's both loose and jangly while slightly mathy with a well-taut rhythm section (plus some craggy abrasive bits, too). To my ears, it's quite reminiscent of Louisville acts like Slint, Rodan, etc.
It would seem that this three-song, 10-minute 7" is all they released, which is a damn shame, as I'd love to hear more. Apparently an unreleased album exists, but... where!?
Breakwater, Breakwater (Static Records, 1995)
Breakwater is a vaguely familiar band name, but that might just be because I have at least one Bridgewater release in my collection. Whatever the case, it has that '90s look to it and it's another 7", so that's enough to get the click. I guess these cats were from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and while I can certainly hear some algorithmic similarities to Spavid, this definitely tends more toward the screamo end of that spectrum. Not bad at all. They're neither obnoxiously screamy nor overly abrasive. It does get noisy and there's a certain crudeness to the recording, but it all works and makes sense. There's an emphatic sense of melody beneath the surface that does come across as rather striking. Yeah, I'm diggin' this.
However, this EP is apparently much more in-demand than Spavid, as it's currently for sale at no less than $40!? Brutal. I suppose that means I won't be adding this to the ol' collection anytime soon.
125, Rue Montmartre/Maggat, Split (The Disappointed's Love Letter, 1999)
Maybe I can make this an all 7" session? I guess this is a split 7" between two German outfits, but 125, Rue Montmartre is up first, so that's who I'm listening to/focusing on. This is a more restrained form of jangly-to-the-max emo where a lot of the vocals are half-spoken rather than sung. They're also one of those bands that doesn't use much—if any—distortion. I usually find that to be an unacceptable characteristic, but while I'm not floored by this, it's not bad at all. There are indeed some moving passages that hold my interest. Let's be honest, though: if there were a few waves of distortion adding to the dynamics here, it would be 10 times better.
Once again, both of this group's 7" releases are on the pricey side. I was intrigued to see that they had a discography collection released last year, but I should've known it would be vinyl-only. Sigh...
Everyone Asked About You, Everyone Asked About You (Landmark Records, 1997)
Overall, this is quite similar to 125, Rue Montmartre, but Everyone Asked About You (from Arkansas) possesses the grittier dynamic shifts that I was hoping for—oh, nice, and dual vocals, too! That definitely adds to the variety. In fact, some of the coolest aspects of this release occur when the vocalists work together with a little back-and-forth. Again, I wouldn't say that I'm necessarily blown away here, but this is largely enjoyable. Jangly emo that's got just enough energy and is kinda-sorta catchy but also carries a certain sadness within. The keyboard bits start to lose me, but everything else is solid.
The packaging has that handmade look, so I'm assuming this is a relatively obscure band. Wait... holy shit, the cheapest this 7" has sold for on Discogs is $70!? I'm suddenly glad that I can live without it, 'cause I'm a bargain hunter, man!
I'm hoping that I can steer slightly back toward the mathier, Spavid-type sound for the final selection. Everyone Asked About You is moving in the right direction in terms of that heavier contrast, so let's see where we land here...
Eldritch Anisette, Eldritch Anisette (St. Vitus's Dance, 1997)
Perfect! Closing with another single three-song 7" emo group, though—damnit—selling for $35 - $65. And, actually, double damnit, because this is really good. This is kind of blowing my mind, because I'm no stranger to obscure bands, but apparently I've been fairly lucky over the decades that 90% of the hyper-obscure bands that I enjoy have a record or two available for like $5. How the hell are people finding out about all of this highly underrated and unknown emo, to the point of making the records so expensively collectible!?
Anyway, Eldritch Anisette was from Delaware and presents an interesting form of rugged emo that gets faster-paced and almost leans toward a pop-punk sound at times—just with increased feeling and intensity/"maturity." Some of the vocals almost have a folksiness to them, even. Shit, I'm really into this. I'll probably never own it, but it's going on the wantlist immediately. I might even dig this more than Spavid!