When someone starts talking to you about "old school emo bands", there are a handful of bands that usually come to mind. Sunny Day Real Estate, Rites of Spring, Mineral, Embrace are just a few bands that might come up if they don't start babbling about the first Taking Back Sunday record. In a more perfect world, Boys Life would be mentioned too.
Forming in 1993 in Kansas City, Missouri, Boys Life basically helped invent a quiet/loud dynamic that would be emulated by bands throughout the decade, and well into the new millennium, but seem to have become largely forgotten. After putting out 5 7" releases on labels like Synergy and Secular Theme, the band hit the studio and recorded a full length for Crank! records, a legendary label that put out the first Cursive record, as well as material by Mineral, The Gloria Record, Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova, and Boys Life split-mates Virteous Humor, among others. The record is a promising one, and mostly lays the groundwork for the sound that would be explored on the Christie Front Drive split and the final LP.
By far, "Departures and Landfalls" is Boys Life greatest achievement. "Fire Engine Red" is not only one of the best opening tracks to any album I've ever heard, it's one of the best emo/post-hardcore songs I've heard anywhere, period. It flows into "All The Negatives" perfectly, before the album floats into a beautiful lull with spastic bursts of melody, finally erupting with two pop-length songs ("Calendar Year" and "Friends For That"), before finally melting away with "Painted Smiles".
Brandon Butler moved to D.C. shortly after the band broke up and released records with Canyon, a slowcore band akin to Red House Painters or Codeine (material from this band would be appreciated!). Members also played in the short lived The Farewell Bend, as well as the indie folk band Lullaby for the Working Class, which featured members of Bright Eyes, Mayday, and Cursive. Brandon Butler (lead vocals/guitar) has also released music under his own name; his website is located here.
Below I've compiled everything I have/could find by these guys. Feel free to add if you can.
Unofficial myspace here.
Giant's Chair Split (1993)
Vitreous Humor Split (1994)
Boys Life (1995)
Christie Front Drive Split (1996)
Depatures and Landfalls (1996)
"Don't Forget To Breathe" Compilation (Crank!( featuring "Sight Unseen Live at KXLU" (1997)