Serving Arizona State University Online Since 1995  Current Issue: Thursday, August 25, 2005





Scene Points: Rock Speak

 by Chelsea Ide  published on Thursday, August 25, 2005


Last week my friend Anna and I hit up Shake, the dance rock night each Saturday at the Rogue. She attends the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, which means we get to discuss the ins and outs of the music scene and hate on bands. During one of my tirades on an unnamed local band, I told her "they're just too emo for me." She let me ramble on for another minute before asking that question my non-music-geek friends ask all the time: "What the hell is emo?" Hearing this from Anna caught me off guard, but I realized something, even to those who peruse Rolling Stone, some of the terms rock writers toss out mean nothing to readers. I want to fix that. Here are a handful of the genre definitions SPM uses frequently and just exactly what we're trying to say.

Emo. Alright, so, emo is short for emotional, but that also describes most music. Emo focuses on specific emotions - the painful ones. Essentially, emo is country lyrics (girls/boys hate me, I'm awkward) set to a pop-punk backdrop (pop-punk equals New Found Glory). It's perfect for those self-deprecating, heartbroken souls who think they're too badass for country. OK, most of us are too badass for country. In addition to country, I'm also too badass for most emo. (Direct hate mail to Make sure to put "emo" in the subject line so I can delete it.)

Want to hear the genre? Try the following:

* Bright Eyes
* Alkaline Trio
* Something Corporate

Hardcore. It's heavy, fast and never self-indulgent. Hardcore is similar to heavy metal, both have screaming vocals and the fans wear black tee shirts everywhere. My wardrobe is all black. I am a rare creature: the blonde metal chick. Wardrobe aside, the straightforward style separates hardcore from metal. It's a good thing these bands sound tough, because otherwise everyone would make fun of their ninja-styled dancing. (Again, direct hate mail to Put, "Flip out like a ninja" in the subject line, so I know to read it and mock you to my co-workers.)

Want to hear the genre? Try the following:

* Nora
* Stretch Armstrong
* Bane

Indie Rock. This one gets thrown around all the time and hyped up to be something it isn't. Indie rock is simply rock that isn't played on the radio and is put out by independent labels. These bands fall in to hundreds of other categories, but since classifying things can be incredibly painful, people just throw it in the independent music bin. Elliott Smith? Sure, he could be indie rock. Death Cab for Cutie? Yep. Indie rock, again. Franz Ferdinand? Why not? People can dance to it, but it's still indie. (Also, anyone wanting to have a fight over indie rock I'm down, but I'll need a beer and there better be arm wrestling. Email challenges to

Want to hear the genre? Try the following:

* Death Cab for Cutie
* Franz Ferdinand
* Elliott Smith

Synth. Hey, guess what? Synth is music that uses ... ready?... synthesizers! I figured you'd get that one. I just wanted an excuse to offer up a rest in peace to Bob Moog, the father of synth and creator of the Moog synthesizer. He passed away Sunday. Aug. 21 and deserves a Scene Points moment of silence.

(If you didn't catch on, you can reach the reporter at

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