20 Bands Reviving the Emo Revival

Posted: by The Editor

It’s no doubt that emo is prone to going through trends and phases: weedmo, sparklepunk, emo pop, twinkledaddies, emocore revival, basement emo, to name a few. Fifth wave/post emo was yet another attempt at getting the ball rolling to surpass the success of the emo revival while giving the scene a whole new identity. This movement however, save for a handful of artists, has felt detached and amateurish, while the hype for it unfortunately seems near completely depleted post pandemic. With this, some may perceive the state of the scene as lacking motivation or becoming increasingly isolated into a predominantly online scene (if you could even call an online subculture a scene). Those may even miss the glory days of emo (largely considered the second wave) with fond eyes to the point of gross idolization and meaningless wistfulness, which is the argument of many from the fifth wave camp. This struggle between evolution and conservation has bubbled up into debates several times within the fanbase to no resolve. To this I say, why not have your cake and eat it too?

My response is not necessarily a pushback against the prior movement, but rather an alternative, a physical place where emo can stop circling the drain of Marietta ripoffs and lousy puns about sitcoms, a movement where the genre’s core principles are carried over, but new ideas and influences are thrown into the cauldron.

Listed below are 20 new amazing artists who I believe have a common thread of progressing the innovation and musicianship of the emo revival’s peak nearly ten years ago. Together they carry the traditions of what defines emo while still reinventing the sound in a way that truly feels fresh and exciting, and not just located online. Many of these bands feature hardcore roots, deep knowledge of the ‘90s scene, DIY ethics, dynamic instrumentation, and of course vulnerable lyricism. 

Consider this not a rehash nor imitation, but rather another revival. 

  1. The Sunset Doctrine

FFO: Copeland, Owen, Dashboard Confessional, Into It. Over It.

Location: San Antonio, Texas

Fav Songs: Relight the Reel, Kenopsia, How I Spent My Fall Semester

Why They’re Cool: Intricate and honest acoustic “dad emo” by solo artist Sean Lazaga. Spiritually, The Sunset Doctrine feels like a calm step forward into the unknowns of adulthood. It’s also a bonus that they’re signed to Sunday Drive Records, who never miss a beat!

Latest Release: Lost & Left Behind, album, released March 20, 2020

  1. Skimp


FFO: Rodan, Two Knights, Karate, Shudder to Think

Location: Denton, Texas

Fav Songs: Grindcore Neck, 7:06, Maybe, Goldenstar

Why They’re Cool: First formed in 2018 as Crisis Management Squad as a solo venture for guitarist/vocalist Parker Lawso of Two Knights, other members would join before changing their name to Skimp in 2020. Skimp takes textures and sounds from emo, math Rock, slowcore, and post-hardcore while still remaining similar enough to the Two Knights style we all miss so dearly. Angular and spiraling, it might not sound “emo” enough to some newer folk, but it would feel right at home in the scene of the early to mid ‘90s, with the lyrics only adding to its dark tone.

Latest Release: hey alright, EP, released September 1, 2022

  1. Arms Like Roses

FFO: Benton Falls, No Doubt, Now Now, Sweet Pill

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Fav Songs: Sleepover, 12 AM, I Made You a Mixtape (Because I Hate Your Fucking Guts)

Why They’re cool: Daria-core at its finest. While Arms like Roses may feel more stylistically modern than the other bands on this list, the devil is in the details with their last album being recorded by Chris Teti, the band maintaining a hardcore side project (Jealous Mind), and proudly wearing influences like Denali, Benton Falls, Glocca Morra, and The Appleseed Cast. Regardless, the band is largely defined by the unique vocal performance of Estelle Angel, who tackles each song like it’s a rock opera of her most recent diary entry. Her touch consumes the music as she slides between spoken word, singing, and shouting. Love it or hate it, she totally owns it.

Latest Release: Blooming, album, released July 1, 2022

  1. Injury Tape

FFO: Swordfish, You Blew It!, Pedro the Lion

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Fav Songs: Gone Away, Lightning Bug, Come By, Fuck Off

Why They’re Cool: Releasing their debut album in 2022, the band combines emo and indie rock with elements of slowcore, an influence seldom heard outside the second wave. The end product is relatively simple yet effective as each moody track begins leisurely before transitioning to mid tempo interlocking guitar parts and relatable lyricism that are near impossible not to like.

Latest Release: Songs I Mailed to Myself, album, released March 18, 2022

  1. Foursidewalks

FFO: The Get Up Kids, Rika, Comeback My Daughters

Location: Sendai and Yonezawa, Japan

Fav Songs: Believe in Time, Aisle, What We Lost, Prayer

Why They’re Cool: Keyboard-centric melodies and sweet but wavering vocal harmonies help build an image of youth while the band alternates between scrappy punk/pop and slow winding melancholy that progressively builds into the next song. Japan has a lot to offer to the emo genre, as many of their bands are arguably better than the median American emo band. So hopefully this may act as a good introduction to that corner of the scene.

Latest Release: From a Suburb, EP, released July 14, 2022

  1. Lakes

FFO: American Football, Prawn, I Love Your Lifestyle, Minus the Bear

Location: Watford, UK

Fav Songs: Geneva, Warning Signs, Matches, Aces

Why They’re Cool: Inspired by American Football’s reunion, Lakes is a telecaster-y type of emo band that appropriately values texture and composition in their songwriting to create bright and layered emo pop songs perfect for the summer days. Bonus: Dan Lambert of Real Friends is a big fan who collaborated with them and even got a Lakes tattoo!

Latest Release: Elysian Skies, album, released April 28, 2023

  1. A Place For Owls


FFO: Dikembe, The National, The Weakerthans, Manchester Orchestra

Location: Denver, Colorado

Fav songs: Airport, Something Is Not Right, 17/24/33, Do I Feel At Home Here? 

Why They’re Cool: Americana tinged indie-emo, A Place For Owls’ music feels sincere, mature, and self-reflective. They hit a lot of the same notes as the lesser known revival acts and emo adjacent bands circa 2014 (think Somos, Pentimento, Signals Midwest, and Sinai Vessel) that I can only describe as vaguely “blue collar.” Nearly every song feels like a “hold your lighter up” type ballad if that’s the kind of sentiment you’re looking for.

Latest Release: Celebration Guns / A Place for Owls, split, released April 13, 2022

  1. Parting

FFO: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate), Annabel, Piebald

Location: Williamston, Michigan

Fav Songs: Stapler’s Monster, After the Fact, Ratt Michards

Why They’re Cool: A supergroup consisting of former members of Annabel, Dowsing, Hawk & Son plus the legendary Keith Latinen is certainly nothing to sneer at. The collaboration continues the complexity and somberness of Empire! Empire! but with a touch of more energy and The Anniversary type vocal harmonies. Despite being the less popular Keith project, I actually prefer this band over Mt. Oriander, having a bit more bite than his usual meandering heartache.

Latest Release: “All Things Ordinary,” cover, released May 5, 2022

  1. Pen Name

FFO: Joie De Vivre, Crash of Rhinos, CSTVT

Location: Kent, UK

Fav Songs: Jaune, Pacemaker, Homebody

Why They’re Cool: I discovered this band a year ago on an archival YouTube channel, leading me to believe this was one of those early 2000s local emo bands lost to time––but nope, to my surprise, they were actually an active band that released their album in 2019. For me, this band really scratches an itch with its moving musicianship that forces you into a pensive melancholy, longing for the imaginary “better days” of youth. 

Latest Release: Pen Name, album, released November 1, 2019

  1. Mentah

FFO: Karate, Prawn, Built to Spill

Location: Ferrol, Galicia

Fav Songs: No Way, Drives Me Crazy, You and Me

Why They’re Cool: Wanting to try something different after spending years in punk and post-hardcore bands, Gabriel Suarez and Fernando Mejuto ended up with something that sounds grander than just the sum of their parts. It’s shocking to believe that a band with this large of a sound could be a two piece, but that’s what you get when you have incredible musicianship and production on your side. The result is shimmery and cinematic that is best suited for road trips and those times alone with nature. 

Latest Release: Everyone Hates, album, released January 5, 2022

  1. Luna Vista

FFO: Pianos Become The Teeth, toe, TWIABP

Location: Portland, Oregon

Fav Songs: Tomorrow’s Turn, Seven Efforts, Changeover, Somerset

Why They’re Cool: Luna Vista excels at making math rock tinged emo sound interesting again by making the instrumentals support the vocals and song structure rather than distracting from it with nonsensical riffage. The vocals go hard, from whispering to singing to gang vocals to straight out shouting in a moment’s notice. Their 2022 album is simply beautifully produced.

Latest Release: Somerset, album, released February 11, 2022

  1. Resignation

FFO: Hot Water Music, Fairweather, The Promise Ring

Location: Toledo, Ohio

Fav Songs: Apologies Necessary, Effy Is Fine (Allie’s Got A Knife), Eddie Kingston

Why They’re Cool: Focused around issues of mental health and suicide prevention, the band is out to make a positive change through their music. Which is just a nice topping on what is already sick fucking music. With powerful vocal harmonies and a rhythm section that is as equally hard hitting as it is catchy, the band only has upward momentum in its sights.

Latest Release: “Back and to the Left,” cover, released July 11, 2023

  1. I Feel Fine

FFO: Crash of Rhinos, CSTVT, The Appleseed Cast, Prawn

Location: Brighton, UK

Fav Songs: Selfsame, Beached Community, Lifer, Million

Why They’re Cool: Maximalist post rocky emo with tantalizing crescendos, impassioned gang vocals, and head banging rhythms, it’s really impossible to go wrong with something so well crafted. Their debut EP, Long Distance Celebration, was a raw and exciting introduction to the band that had me hooked ever since, while their album The Cold in Every Shelter was a mature follow up that I continually believe was overlooked as a 2021 AOTY contender.

Latest Release: “Million (Lakes Remix),” single, released December 21, 2021

  1. The Arrival Note

FFO: Texas Is the Reason, As Friends Rust, Christie Front Drive

Location: Tampa Bay, Florida

Fav Songs: Trajectory, Falling Down, We Had a Deal

Why They’re Cool: Featuring Joshua Howell of Contention, Point of Contact, and Stedfast; The Arrival Note (signed to the incredible Sunday Drive Records) makes the point clear that emo belongs to hardcore and that it’s for the best if it stays that way. Smart, chuggy, and dynamic as hell, the band masterfully balances catchy fun and cathartic angst. I find it hard to think of another emo band that makes me want to two-step as badly as I do listening to them. A worthy inclusion to any workout playlist!

Latest Release: Painful Choice / Sugar Coat / The Arrival Note, split, released June 16, 2023

  1. Feverchild

FFO: Title Fight, Far Apart, Kill Holiday, Sunny Day Real Estate

Location: Ghent, Belgium

Fav Songs: Stargazing, Fever Dream, You Know I Can’t, Coming Down

Why They’re Cool: Yet another Sunday Drive band, Feverchild features members of Minded Fury, Force, and Animal Club. With hardcore in their blood, Feverchild perfectly captures what modern emo needs right now: aggression, precision, and a passionate vision. You can tell how much respect these guys have for the golden era of emo yet never ever come off as derivative.

Latest Release: Altering a Memory, album, released September 1, 2023

  1. Sweetmess

FFO: The Rocking Horse Winner, Sixpence None The Richer, Sunday Inn

Location: Montreal, Québec

Fav Songs: nothing compares, static, saw you staring

Why They’re Cool: Putting into words how strongly I feel about this band is hard to do, but if you ever wanted to feel like a teen girl in 2002 dancing in her stereotypically decorated room to the hookiest pop rock songs ever, this is the band for you. And despite that description these songs still manage to hit so close to home. Ugh!

Latest Release: everything’s fine, EP, released May 5, 2023

  1. Peregrine

FFO: At the Drive-in, The Hotelier, Armor for Sleep

Location: Worcester, Massachusetts

Fav Songs: Something Far Worse, The Hermit, Dear Violet, sagittarius A*

Why They’re Cool: Named after The Appleseed Cast’s most eclectic album, Peregrine features great production, talented musicians, and stunning vocals. I’m consistently surprised by how little this band is discussed within the scene considering they released one of the best albums of 2019, while their boundary-pushing 2022 effort was nothing to sneer at either. Their ambition rivals that of peak emo revival acts and early 2000s post-hardcore. Peregrine has, in my opinion, become required listening for any fan of emo looking for a band with a solid and meaningful discography front to back. 

Latest Release: the awful things we’ve done, album, released March 18, 2022

  1. Sinking

FFO: Mineral, Failure, Gleemer, Broken Hearts Are Blue

Location: Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Fav Songs: Ghost, Cemetery, Serpent

Why They’re Cool: Despite fitting into so many spaces, having members in several hardcore bands and sharing a member with the aforementioned Arms Like Roses, they have maintained a sound completely of their own that has been consistent yet forward-moving since their start in 2018. Shoegaze, alt rock, emo, and post-hardcore are all delicately balanced to craft vulnerable head bangers. 

Latest Release: Misshapen World, EP, released April 29, 2022

  1. Dead History

FFO: Quicksand, Texas Is the Reason, Hum,  The Casket Lottery

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Fav Songs: Empty Eyes, The Shallow End, Sleep Safe, Telmex

Why They’re Cool: All being friends from cult ‘90s hardcore and emo bands, this is the first time the five of them have put their heads together as a singular unit. Additionally, despite their first album coming out in 2021, four songs were based on a demo made by Matthew Rezac in 2000. All of this would explain why their sound is so heavily rooted in the ‘90s, which is needed more now than ever before as the scene struggles to look backwards in order to move forward. Honestly, I love how gruff the vocals are and how thunderous their production style sounds, almost as if they were already made to be playing arenas, something obviously lacking in the current scene’s rather unsophisticated presentation.

Latest Release: Dead History, album, released September 15, 2021

  1. Flight Mode

FFO: Death Cab for Cutie, Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate), Penfold

Location: Oslo, Norway

Fav Songs: Sixteen, Blinks, Fossil Fuel, Togetherness, Go

Why They’re Cool: Flight Mode really puts the emotional in emo. With two EPs out and another on the way, frontman Sjur Lyseid allows this project to essentially serve as his memoir in musical form. Each EP represents a specific year in his life, while every song follows a strong and personal narrative of someone reflecting on their past and reliving the moments that defined them. Poetic lyricism is met with heartfelt melodies that bring the depressive lows and euphoric highs you’ve come to love from the golden era of the genre renewed with a mature (and infectious) indie rock twist. I’d be lying if I said this band doesn’t tug at the heartstrings.

Latest Release: Torshov, ’05, EP, released May 6, 2022

Like what you read? Check out all these bands (and many more) in this Spotify playlist!

David K. | @realoemo

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