6 of the Best Emo Bands for Stoners

Cropped stoner smoking joint

Emo music has been the quintessential outcast genre for thirty-five years, staggering between cult status and global phenomenon every decade or so.

And as emo music evolves, so too does its relationship with pot – which is hardly surprising, given grass has influenced music for generations.

But who are emo’s top suppliers of stoner music?

Given the four different “waves” of emo, it’s difficult to say for sure, and thus debates are inevitable. Nevertheless, when you’re not in the mood for a chill rap vibe or an upbeat rock one,  here are six dank discographies to accompany, or stand-in for, burning one.

Bright Eyes

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Bright Eyes have shined for 20 years. Songs like “Lover I Don’t Have to Love” and “Lua” met drug-and-love-addicted youth everywhere under the guise of indie, folk, and electronica.

And 2020’s “Down in the Weeds” shows how any band – and not just an emo one – can hope to improve with age.

The music is best enjoyed high, album in full, and cover art visible for maximum immersion. The songwriting is in a league of its own, replete with unbelievable lyricism and melodies that just feel right.

Not for nothing is Oberst referred to as the “new” Cohen, Van Zandt, and Dylan! And permanent members Walcott and Mogis, along with a revolving cast of music’s upper echelon – including legends Emmylou Harris and Flea – push the music even higher.

If you’re looking for angsty, cerebral stoner music, look no further. Check out the life-affirming comedown of I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, the futuristic The People’s Key, or the epic Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was.


American Football

American Football album cover artwork
American Football is a band that, until recently, only had one album – but that one album was enough.

Chill, meditative, and devastating, the ‘99 self-titled record is one of the best breakup albums ever, documenting the end of both a romantic and musical era. They’re the most chill, saddest “math-rock” band to ever barely exist.

Despite their melancholy, American Football is great “getting high” music. The band blended intricate, while maybe not featured in the the top guitarists, it does feature clean guitar work with odd time signatures to create a jazz-like sound that would influence countless revival acts to come.

The words come at you, slow and simple, and that’s the beauty of it. There are trumpets, long outros, and dazzling drum patterns. Plus, the two albums from the mid-to-late-2010’s see the band staying true to their roots, and they aren’t bad at all.

American Football is perfect for heartbroken stoners and music nerds alike. The first album is a must-listen, with an iconic green house on the cover that still stands in Champaign, IL.


Modern Baseball

Holy Ghost album cover by emo band Modern Baseball

Modern Baseball – or MoBo – didn’t last longer than a college try. Still, anthems like “Fine, Great” and “The Weekend” showed pop-punk’s definitive place in the emo revival, with results both sincere and fun – a direct reflection of the band’s attitude. It’s timeless stoner emo music.

Whether you’re alone and stoned or smoking with best friends, MoBo has something to offer. With fearless leaders Lukens and Ewald, MoBo charged ahead with three full-length LPs, each more magical than the last.

The band also mastered the art of singles – an anomaly given the times and state of the scene.

So, whether you’re looking for individual songs to add to a playlist or looking for a full album experience, MoBo is the ideal party music for reclusive smokers.

If any emo band can be credited for releasing bangers, it’s Modern Baseball. Check out the unapologetically youthful Sports, the pained joviality of You’re Gonna Miss It All, and the mature, mysterious Holy Ghost.



Against Me!

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Against Me! has ruled emo music for 20 years. Songs like “Baby, I’m an Anarchist” and “Thrash Unreal” were seminal for punk music and emo fans alike. But it was “Dysphoria Blues” that ushered in a new era for the band’s music and respective genres when Laura Jane Grace came out as a trans woman.

What’s more, Against Me! is great for getting high – especially if you’re into anarchy or are LGBTQ+. Fight the power behind curling clouds of cannabis smoke with songs about race, gender, and class, or kick the hard stuff with pot and soulful songs about recovery.

Against Me! does it all, from finger-pointing to throwing peace-signs. Each album sees the band tackle life differently – not just lyrically, but also musically. They’re also amazing live!

If you gravitate towards questions of identity, you need to smoke to Against Me! Try out the anarchist bible of Reinventing Axl Rose, the soul-searching New Wave, or the endlessly empowering Transgender Dysphoria Blues.


Rilo Kiley

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Rilo Kiley has long helped sad stoners put romantic failings into perspective with existentialism and groove. Songs like “Science vs. Romance” and “The Execution of All Things” exemplify the band’s wide palate, from ’60s-inspired pop to thoughtful, brooding indie-rock.

Rilo Kiley is great for getting stoned and either releasing or reveling in the bad vibes. If you’re a fan of beautiful singing, sticky guitar playing, and empowering lyrical nuance in the jilted lover niche, you’ll dig them.

Every line will have you hanging on as the band surrounds you with smoky scenes. You’ll feel somewhere between a rebel and a dancer: sugary, sinister, and in tune with the greater universal master plan.

If you like songs about love and God, take a huge rip and dive into Rilo Kiley. Check out Take Offs and Landings, The Execution of All Things, and More Adventurous.


The Pillows

The Pillows Album Cover

Anime fans know them thanks to FLCL. Songs like “Ride on Shooting Star” and “Beautiful Morning with You” enabled montages which rival the original Scooby-Doo series.

None other than The Pillows have released psychedelic alt-rock for 30 years, influencing generations of outcast stoners.

The Pillows have a huge sound, making for a visceral body high. The jangly guitars, driving beats, nasally vocals, and power-pop melodies target the brain’s dopamine receptors directly.

The lyrics oscillate between Japanese and English, creating music that transcends barriers, evidenced by the fact that Asian and American bands alike have covered their music. Hopefully, they will inspire you to check out more of Asia’s diverse roster, emo, jangle pop, or otherwise!

The Pillows are uniquely psychedelic, often speaking from a place of isolation, making it loveable for all lonesome and wacky stoners out there.

The band has a huge discography, but most fans agree that Happy Bivouac, Little Busters, and Runner’s High are the best places to start.


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