In 2009, Myspace was beginning to disintegrate, and scene bands were growing less and less popular. Despite their distinct capabilities of genre-blending emo, pop punk, metalcore, neon pop, electronica and more, the scene started to die and was aching for a rebirth. As the year progressed, new bands emerged, and seasoned musicians cultivated their craft to bring it back to the top of the musical food chain.
It was an extraordinary year where more experimentation occurred and new elements were implemented to standout from the rest of the crowd. With iconic bands such as the Friday Night Boys and VersaEmerge rising, the scene was reinvigorated for a new generation of fans. Here are 20 scene albums that are essential to the year the scene was declared dead.
Cobra Starship – Hot Mess
Drenched in synthesizers, Cobra Starship released their third album, Hot Mess, with an abundance of power-pop-infused rock. “Good Girls Go Bad” featuring Leighton Meester was a certified dance anthem for neon die-hards. Hot Mess may have included a more upbeat tone, but with songs such as “Fold Your Hands Child” and “The Scene Is Dead; Long Live The Scene,” the emotional toll of touring and navigating the scene added an unexpected depth to the album.
The Friday Night Boys – Off The Deep
Off The Deep End is the first and only full-length from the neon-pop band the Friday Night Boys. It includes all of the essentials of an emo-pop fusion with songs such as “Permanent Heartbreak” that detail the pain of a breakup and “Stupid Love Letter,” which tells the story of falling for the wrong person. While the lyrics are heavily influenced by frustration, resentment and heartbreak, the upbeat neon-pop sounds of the Friday Night Boys make nearly every song dance-worthy. Off The Deep End is the ideal record to dance pain and loneliness away.
Thirty Seconds To Mars – This Is War
After four years of waiting, Thirty Seconds To Mars released their powerful third album, This Is War. Incorporating new wave and metal, the band crafted a concept album that speaks on the issues of the music industry, feelings of an impending end and navigating a world that seems as though it is constantly at war. Thirty Seconds To Mars proved they were masters of their craft with the album’s titular track, which showcases the range of vocalist Jared Leto and the band as a whole.
Paramore – Brand New Eyes
Paramore’s third album, Brand New Eyes, details the pains of growing older, growing apart and trying to piece the world back together. In “Playing God,” Hayley Williams vocalizes the struggles of standing up for oneself with the verse “It’s just my humble opinion/But it’s one that I believe in.” Brand New Eyes is an emo album at its core, but its instrumentation creates a pop-punk and alternative-rock styling that went against expectations of where the scene was going at the time.
Mayday Parade – Anywhere But Here
Anywhere But Here builds on their first album by establishing their place in the scene as a band who have emotionally driven lyrics with pop-rock sounds that expertly frame each song’s story. Mayday Parade’s second album is far heavier where it counts and much sadder than their debut but retains the beautifully articulated musicality the band are known for.
All Time Low – Nothing Personal
All Time Low’s Nothing Personal is the third album from the established pop-punk group. Their first single “Weightless” set the tone: “Maybe it’s not my weekend, but it’s gonna be my year” showcases a distinct hopefulness alongside an air of doubt. It features strong hooks and perfectly crafted melodies that encapsulate All Time Low’s signature brand of pop punk.
Boys Like Girls – Love Drunk
The second album from Boys Like Girls, Love Drunk, featured some of their most iconic songs, such as the titular track and “Two Is Better Than One.” It’s entirely power pop with undertones of emotional turmoil of love and heartbreak. Love Drunk is an album entirely about love, falling in and out of it and the aftermath of it all. Boys Like Girls created a lyrically heavy album with upbeat instrumentation that allows listeners to experience a sense of hope.
Breathe Carolina – Hello Fascination
Breathe Carolina’s second album, Hello Fascination, showcased that the electronic-rock band were growing heavier in both their vocals and lyricism. With Kyle Even screaming on every track and David Schmitt’s clean vocals, the album is a tour de force of what the scene was growing into. Breathe Carolina took the popularity of electropop, crunkcore, neon pop and screamo to create a sound that is entirely their own. Hello Fascination is an album that directly speaks to a specific moment in scene music history.
Anarbor – Free Your Mind EP
Brand new to the scene, Anarbor’s Free Your Mind EP grew increasingly popular with each single released. “You And I” frequently played on television and radio. Their funk-inspired guitar work and pop-punk vocals separated them from every other scene band at the time. Anarbor weren’t afraid to get heavy when necessary (“Halfway Sober”) but knew when to reel in happiness with joyful instrumentation in other tracks on the EP.
LIGHTS – The Listening
The debut album from LIGHTS, The Listening is a calming and emotional ride through emo and indietronica musicality. “Ice” and “Pretend” dig deep into the turmoil of unreciprocated feelings, youth and the fear of growing up. LIGHTS stands apart from any other band or musician on this list as The Listening was a much softer album that ushered in a whole new world for the scene.
VersaEmerge – VersaEmerge EP
VersaEmerge displayed their uniquely emo and experimental rock sound with their self-titled EP. With dark imagery in “The Hider” alongside tight guitar chords and impeccable vocals from Sierra Kay, the band surfaced as an incredibly popular group among the scene. VersaEmerge were an unlikely but welcome addition to the growing experimental instrumentation that the scene was known for. They quickly garnered an expansive fanbase that included fans of bands such as Chiodos.
Set Your Goals – This Will Be The Death Of Us
The second album from Set Your Goals, This Will Be The Death Of Us, is heavily influenced by classic punk bands. It includes fast tempos, masterful guitar parts and lyrics that speak to emo and pop-punk crowds alike. They utilized each song to detail a specific emotion, such as the complacency featured in “Look Closer.” This Will Be The Death Of Us remains one of the greatest albums to come out of this year.
This Providence – Who Are You Now?
By their third album, Who Are You Now?, This Providence had perfected their alternative-rock sound but added new elements that led to anthems such as “Letdown.” Dan Young draws in listeners with eloquent vocal capabilities while Gavin Phillips (guitar), David Blaise (bass), and Andy Horst (drums) keep you entranced with well-executed instrumentals. It’s a deeply personal and emotional record that brings in elements of emo and indie but stays true to alternative rock’s classic sound.
The Swellers – Ups And Downsizing
The Swellers’ second album, Ups And Downsizing, is fueled with pop-punk elements that are amplified with the fast tempo of hardcore. The entirety of the record details the escapist desires of youth and the desire to feel alive during times of distress. It’s an extraordinary album that is able to combine pop punk with hardcore and make it work effortlessly, especially in the opener “2009.” The Swellers began to break through the scene with Ups And Downsizing, and for good reason.
There For Tomorrow – A Little Faster
Perfecting their sound with their second album, There For Tomorrow’s A Little Faster showcases what’s possible when emo, punk and pop are expertly mixed together. Songs such as “The Remedy” feature deep tonal drums and bass that create a sense of darkness while punchy vocals accelerate it toward independence and closure. There For Tomorrow were able to capture an array of genres by blending emo, punk and pop all while highlighting specific qualities from each of them.
Silverstein – A Shipwreck In The Sand
Silverstein showed no signs of slowing down when they released their fourth album, A Shipwreck In The Sand. This is by far Silverstein’s heaviest album. It’s split into four chapters—betrayal, arson, infidelity and true love—giving each theme three to four songs on the album. A Shipwreck In The Sand captures the complexities of nearly every aspect of life, making it Silverstein’s most iconic scene album of all time.
twenty one pilots – twenty one pilots
twenty one pilots self-released their self-titled record and immediately found great success. It’s an honest emo record that utilizes the simplicity of solo piano alongside speak-singing. Tyler Joseph’s vocals attracted listeners and drew them into hearing the album’s entirety. twenty one pilots is a personal record that qualifies as a tremendous feat in the scene for its captivating simplicity.
Asking Alexandria – Stand Up And Scream
Asking Alexandria made their extraordinary debut with Stand Up And Scream. It’s heavily drenched in electronicore, screamo and metalcore alongside captivating emo lyrics. In “The Final Episode (Let’s Change Channel),” the verse “The tears that stain my cheek must make me look weak/I wear them proudly” has a distinctly emo quality to it. Asking Alexandria soon grew in the ranks of noteworthy bands who featured deep guttural vocals and powerful instrumentals that are cause for a circle pit.
The Devil Wears Prada – With Roots Above And Branches Below
With Roots Above And Branches Below is the third album from the iconic metalcore band the Devil Wears Prada. With Mike Hranica’s heavy lead vocals alongside Jeremy DePoyster’s clean vocals and guitar, the band captured a darker and more intense sound (“Sassafras,” “I Hate Buffering”). With Roots Above And Branches Below marked a turning point for the metalcore band.
We Came As Romans – To Plant A Seed
We Came As Romans’ debut album, To Plant A Seed, is wholehearted metalcore mixed with post-hardcore elements. Its entirety depicts the struggles of growing toward something far greater than where you currently stand. The title is taken literally as the album speaks about planting a seed to grow stronger emotionally, musically and as a person. The eponymous track captures every aspect of what We Came As Romans wanted to achieve (“We’ve planted a seed, an ever-growing wonder to a beautiful tree”). To Plant A Seed showcases the hopefulness that can grow from pain in a unique and eloquent way.