Defining Northeastern Emo With Their New Album: No Momentum’s “Relax, Enjoy Life.”

On Nov. 14, St. Andrew’s resident headliners No Momentum released their single “enjoy life” to tease their full-length album, “relax, enjoy life” which gets released on all major streaming platforms and on limited-edition vinyl this Friday, Dec. 1. 

Album Art courtesy of Lillian Wilkinson.

“This new album is a love letter to the sound that people have become accustomed to from our older albums,” said drummer Marty Headley. “We’re wrapping a bow around it as we tread into different stuff sonically, because we were an entirely different band before we found our new guitarist, so we decided to scrap our original sound. People call us pop punk, but we don’t all identify with that label.”

“Our lead singer calls us sparkle punk,” added bassist Dan Britto Watkins. “But we’re straight punk at our core.”

Since the 1990s, some punks have decided to blend their blunt, hardcore sound with that of the ironically macabre style of emo music, creating a subgenre most virally known as “midwestern emo.” Bands like American Football, Mom Jeans and Camping in Alaska fall neatly into this category. 

Some dare to call No Momentum a midwestern emo offshoot, which overlooks the complexity of their songs. Most midwestern emo bands have a hooky guitar riff that repeats or arpeggiates, where NoMo (their affectionate pet name) focuses on tempo and key changes that add depth to their songs’ compositions. 

Album Art courtesy of Lillian Wilkinson.

Especially because of the other Hudson Valley punk bands that have played with NoMo and produced their own music, it seems that there is a new sub-genre of fifth-wave punk that differentiates itself from the boredom of the midwest and more aligns with the chaos of the northeast; perhaps it should be called “northeastern emo.” 

The band initially began back in 2016 with just Dan, Marty and Kelly Bowman, their lead singer and previously sole guitarist. They all grew up in the Hudson Valley, with both Britto Watkins and Bowman having attended SUNY New Paltz. 

“You know what’s funny? Kelly and I went to high school together, but we didn’t like each other at first,” said Britto Watkins, through bouts of uncontrollable laughter; the thought of the two ever hating each other seems funny to the tight-knit troupe now. “We didn’t even talk or anything; we just didn’t like each other from afar. Then, when we did become friends, we found out about our mutual dislike for each other and it became a bonding thing.”

With just the three of them, they were able to release about seven singles and one full album on all streaming platforms before they added lead guitarist (and Oracle copy editor) Curt Giventer in 2022, which forced some upbeat, classic rock elements into the band’s manically melancholic sound. 

“No Momentum is really pretty indescribable, which is what’s so great about us,” says Giventer. “It takes some screamy elements from screamo. It takes hardcore lyrics from punk. It takes leads from classic rock. It takes technical drumming from math rock. Our sound is hard to specifically nail down.” 

This is why they have about 3,500 monthly listeners on Spotify (and counting); they appeal to a diverse audience and cast a wide net algorithmically. NoMo has ended up on dozens of playlists including “midwestern emo essentials,” which has over 70,000 likes and their most listened to song, “daydream,” has been streamed over 100,000 times — pretty impressive for a scrappy, local DIY band. 

From left to right: Dan Britto Watkins and Curt Giventer of No Momentum playing their most recent show at St. Andrews on Nov. 10. Photo courtesy of Kacie Owen.

Since Britto Watkins had attended New Paltz from 2015 to 2019, the band had an “in” at a majority of the house venues that existed in “Old Paltz” as well as greener ones that have popped up since then, regularly headlining at both more established places like Radio Shack and more transient ones like The Sanctuary. Recently, however, they’ve found it difficult to book gigs in town besides St. Andrew’s, which is now facing its own scheduling issues due to noise complaints from its neighbors. 

“The house scene has become so small,” says Giventer. “A lot of places have ceased to exist because of rowdy show-goers and crappy neighbors. Bottom line, people don’t want to host shows because their house isn’t respected. Until somebody nuts up and has another venue, we’re tied to the church, at least in the New Paltz scene.”

In about a month and a half, they are departing to embark on their Northeast album-release tour. From Jan. 12 to Jan. 21, the quartet can be seen in NYC, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Chicago and Pittsburgh, proudly repping their New Paltz roots in other cities’ scenes to remind everybody how much talent our little town can produce. 

Poster courtesy of Kelly Bowman.

To keep up with the development of perhaps New Paltz’s most promising band, follow their Instagram      @nomomentumny, check out their Bandcamp to snag your copy of their limited-edition vinyl and make sure to show your support for their official release show on Dec. 16 at good ol’ St. Andrew’s.

About Gabby Gagliano 51 Articles
Gabby is a third-year, digital media production major. This is her first semester as Sports Editor and her third semester at The Oracle.