In this era of resurgent pop-punk and the ever-expanding genre of metalcore, the future of music has high hopes, resting on endless possibilities. But let us not forget the OGs of the scene, the ones who first embraced the screamo name, combining gritty vocals with infectious melody. Emery would be rightfully dubbed seasoned veterans in this culture. They not only contributed to its structure and definition but aided in its creation back in the early millennial days of 2004 with the release of their first album, The Weak’s End. Twelve years and a career’s worth of albums (and even second careers as podcast hosts and media conglomerates) have come to pass since their inception. The band has traveled the world over and shared the stage with the most respected artists of the punk and hardcore worlds, and, clearly, they’re not done releasing music.
In April, Emery recorded their most recent collection, an EP fittingly named Live in Houston, an acoustic recreation of their most popular hits played to their fans in Texas. Like a playlist their fans may piece together at home, it has many of their greatest hits from throughout the years, but in a live format that finds many of the songs with a case for being markedly improved.
With plenty of set list experience under their belt, Emery selected some of the most momentous songs from their cannon. There is presence from their debut album all the way through 2009’s In Shallow Seas We Sail. In stripping away the layers of heavy guitar riffs and punchy percussive combos in songs like “The Ponytail Parades” and “In a Win, Win Situation,” a non-embellished performance allowed the songwriting and melody to burst through. Though it may be more naked, there’s a fullness in the on-the-floor presentation of Live in Houston, accentuating Emery’s strong musical force backed by their smooth complimentary harmonies and raw vocal talent.
In a positive way, tenured acts typically have the means to produce some of the most well-produced and polished products. Creating and releasing a collection of fan favorites in a live, intimate setting is a sign of gratitude and thanksgiving from an artist to their fan base. Live in Houston is exactly this; while it may not be new music, it is overflowing with the positive reconstruction of perfected musical memories. It breathes new life in the music that helped set the standard for the genre today.