Chicago Emo Archive – Articles of Faith

Posted: by The Editor

If you’re like me, a person pushing 30, you most likely have some nostalgia for the Blogspot era of music writing. Circling The Drain, Sophies Floorboard, and Cut and Paste probably mean something to you. Maybe you were even younger, and these blogs helped build your taste. How else would you learn about Everyone Asked About You or Newfound Interest in Connecticut? The writing on these blogs was secondary and sometimes used the same adjectives to describe everything. Most of the time, all you would get is a one-paragraph blurb. But the writing was charming; it felt more like you were talking to your cooler and older friend with good music taste in middle school.

As much more stuff in the broader punk and emo umbrella has gotten more recognition from traditional publications, I felt we had lost something. There’s some humanity lost when articles have to conform to an authorial voice of a website. Chicago Emo Archive is my attempt to bring back a version of the internet and music writing I grew up on. I know the project is a very niche topic, focusing on one genre in one city. But I’ll try to be pretty liberal with what I write about with each addition. Some math rock that ran alongside the emo revival is worth revisiting. Maybe I’ll expand it to include some punk bands if I feel like it.

But I want to be clear that Chicago Emo Archive will not be an exact replication of what came before. The context around music has changed dramatically. Providing a download of each album from a band is useless. I don’t want to waste my time doing something most people will ignore when they can find the albums on youtube or streaming services. The writing, too, will differ. With some bands, I may keep it to a short blurb because I have no prior experience with them. I may interview band members or write something resembling a personal essay. I’m still figuring out exactly what I want Chicago Emo Archive to be, so I forgive how manic it may appear.

Articles of Faith

When I began to entertain the idea of starting the Chicago Emo Archive, one question popped up: Who was the first Chicago emo band? My resources for finding an answer were limited. Any documentation for early Chicago punk is limited. I have to rely on the little information I can find. The archival Bandcamp page Dupage County Hardcore is more focused on the ’90s and beyond and therefore is useless in this search. Alona’s Dream is also a great archival record label, but what I found is mostly first-wave hardcore.

The question remained unanswered for a few months. It wasn’t until I visited a record store in Suburban Chicago that I finally found what I was searching for. While scrolling through the limited punk selection, I came across In This Life? by Articles of Faith. It was relatively cheap, costing 35 dollars, so I picked it up. Little did I know that this was the final record from the band and seems, from stray YouTube comments, to be the most controversial. I imagine people at the time would call it Husker Du worship, especially given that Bob Mould produced it. Zen Arcade had come out the year before, in 1985, and many people were taking inspiration from it. To my ears, Articles of Faith follows the logical trajectory of any emo band. You start playing hardcore and then move on to something a little different.

In 1986, the hardcore-to-emo pipeline was still a new phenomenon. Just the year before, we had Rites of Spring’s record and The Hated’s Best Piece of Shit Volume 3. 1986 would give us Dag Nasty’s Can I Say. What’s notable about this is that all of the early progenitors of emo come from DC. There wasn’t some strong contingent of midwest bands making a similar turn as Articles of Faith. They stood alone, helping to build up Chicago as an important hub of emo for decades to come.

Earlier material from Articles of Faith was more faithful to the original first wave of hardcore. The band’s origin took root when vocalist Vic Bondi saw Bad Brains while on vacation in DC, and you would hear that inspiration coalesce on What We Want Is Free. With it, we get Chicago’s answer to Negative Approach. It’s hardcore that prioritizes speed above all else but is still infused with Bondi’s melodic phrasings. “Bad Attitude” and “Everyday” are rousing singalongs in the context of a hardcore song.

Hugo Reyes | @hvreyes5

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