Finding the right music during quarantine is hard. There are many people who enjoy danceable music to take their mind off of the current situation, but there are others who would rather listen to sad songs that capture feelings and help people get through these hard times. Emo is perfect for that. Although it’s hard to define what “emo” actually means, one could say it’s one of the richest forms of rock music, achieved by combining several genres (hardcore, post-rock, pop-punk, math rock) with confessional lyrics that often deal with the exploration of emotions and mental health.
In the last decade, emo has had a return to the spotlight, steeped in the roots of the ‘90s Midwest Emo— rather than the mainstream emo of the ‘00s. In Latin America, emo always had a strong imprint with bands like Mofa, Restos Fósiles, Joliette and Asamblea Internacional del Fuego. It isn’t a surprise that a new generation of underground bands is exploring this genre, creating an exciting new scene that connects the whole continent.
Melancholy has always been a key feeling of emo and Archipiélagos know how to exploit it. Their name means “island chain” and the tracks on their self-titled debut EP (2019) are named after geographical islands too. The music indeed sounds like a remote and personal place that is unlocked for listeners to discover it. Their ability to capture a poignant intimacy comes from the intricate craft of layers that include delicate guitars, post-rock crescendos, rhythm changes and vocals that can go from reflective melodies to sudden passionate bursts.
Camiches describe themselves as “Feeling Core,” a term that started as a joke but has stayed with them along the years. While their debut album, El Bálsamo para los Sabios y Buenos Perdedores (2016), leans towards a harsher kind of rock music, in their sophomore album, Jeet Kune Do (2019), the strong voice, the explosive drums and the noisy guitar riffs work together towards building vulnerable and raw melodies.
El Cómodo Silencio de los que Hablan Poco (Chile)
In the last decade, Chile has been the home of the most exciting pop artists, but it also has many emo bands that unfortunately aren’t as popular. One of them is El Cómodo Silencio de los que Hablan Poco. Their debut album, Run Run (2016), introduces their sound with warm guitar lines and beats that soften the slightly dissonant high-pitched voice. Since then they’ve been expanding their music to electronics in Amanda (2018), and, last year, they released, “El fuego,” a song that recovers a cumbia beat and where they show that math-rock guitars are nearer to traditional andean music than we thought.
Fin del Mundo (Argentina)
Latinemo (and emo in general) has been mostly dominated by men, so it’s time for an all woman band to step up. The debut self-titled EP by Fin del Mundo (an adequate name for these days) was released last month and it is already having very positive reception. Throughout the four tracks, they paint nocturne landscapes with a dreamy atmosphere that include gentle quiet vocals, distorted guitars and a beat that keeps the song moving. A nice detail is the fact that the lyrics from “La noche” are extracted from the poem “un dibujo de klee” by Alejandra Pizarnik.
Llueve en la Montaña (Colombia)
Llueve en la Montaña released their debut EP in 2017, but in a few years they have already gone from classic Midwest Emo to incorporating jazz influences in their latest EP, Kodamas, released this February. Another element that characterizes this band is the combination of smooth and even sweet female vocals with male hardcore screams that incarnate longing and rage.
Procrastinación 1 Yo 0 (Perú)
This band not only has a name that anyone can identify with, but it also features dynamic songs that get closer to the punk side of emo. With loud basslines, fast drums and dramatic vocals, their debut album, El Mejor Regalo de Nuestras Vidas (2017), covers the mixed emotions of a breakup—the pain of reaching the end, but also the freedom of moving on with life. Last year, they released two new songs with a brighter sound that combined a lo-fi production and upbeat melodies.
Quemarlo Todo Por Error (Colombia)
The slow-paced vocals and the untidy lo-fi recording of Quemarlo Todo por Error results in tender songs that many times get nearer to a gloomy indie-rock. Math Rock and dreamy atmospheres play a relevant part in these tracks, especially in “Volar,” the first single of their sophomore album which has a tighter instrumentation that creates a dynamic contrast with the calm and loose vocals.
Um Quarto ¼ (Brazil)
Most of the songs of Do Que Somos Capazes (2019) were written by their members before the band even existed, except for the first two tracks, which they say indicate the direction they want to take. These songs are in Portuguese (instead of English as the rest of the tracklist) and are definitely more experimental than the rest, with abrupt changes and crescendos that take them from vibrant and fast beats to mellow melodies that are especially powerful when they sing together.