Mush Credit: courtesy the artist

A brief, tongue-in-cheek bio for fourth-wave emo band Mush says its members, who live in Chicago and Grand Rapids, decided to join forces “after discussing how sick Vagrants Records use[d] to be.” Their debut EP, Protect Your Brand (Skeletal Lightning), is, well, on brand: visceral guitars scream as if out of control, ever-so-slightly shambolic melodies exude pop euphoria, and shout-along choruses balance gruff enthusiasm and saccharine earnestness like a server swerving through a busy restaurant with a couple armloads of dishes. This isn’t exactly surprising given Mush’s lineup, which includes Erik Hunter Czaja (Dowsing and Pet Symmetry), Andy Hendricks (Annabel and headliners What Gives), and Adam Vass (La Dispute). Vass also founded World Champ Game Co., through which he’s created a card game for Protect Your Brand that builds on the irreverent title; the group made small batches of the game to sell with the EP’s cassette version, which is available on Mush’s Bandcamp page and Skeleton Lightning’s website. Some of Mush’s members will be familiar to those of us who’ve gone to more local emo shows than we can remember, but the EP’s physical packaging hints at how the band plays with the scene’s sound and boundaries.   v