Awakebutstillinbed Credit: Tommy Ly

Shannon Taylor, who plays guitar and sings in San Jose emo band Awakebutstillinbed, screams like she could go hoarse at a moment’s notice and is determined to make every last second of her forceful wail count. On the group’s January debut album, What People Call Low Self-Esteem Is Really Just Seeing Yourself the Way That Other People See You (which they’ve since rereleased on Tiny Engines), Taylor’s powerful presence helps push the four-piece band through their most shambolic moments—even her off-key notes feel like intentional instants of clarity. Awakebutstillinbed ain’t for everyone, but they’re catnip for anyone who ever experienced grace while listening to the messiest Polyvinyl records and has since accumulated hundreds of seven-inches from forgotten 90s emo labels in search of that same feeling. Taylor told Stereogum she wrote the music on What People Call Low Self-Esteem during a difficult period, and though its songs alternate between vulnerable and muscular, Awakebutstillinbed sound like they’re fighting to lift a weight that’s heavy enough to crush them. Through pluck and ambition, they make it work; atop the cascading guitars on “Safe” Taylor caterwauls about the sacrifices people make in order to try to achieve what they’ve been told is impossible. Her resolute poise at the quiet end of the song conveys a measured sense of hope.   v