Audio Lore

A Positive Music Blog

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Spring is here. The sun is shining and biking season is in full effect. For me this means it's time to dust off those harmony and hook filled Pop/Punk Lp's, CD, and Mp3's to smile and sing along while on bike rides around the city. 

Here are what what I consider-

The Top-15 Pop/Punk Albums of All-Time (with a Spotify Playlist w/ two songs from each album at the bottom of the post)
15) Sicko – Laugh While You Can Monkey Boy (1995, eMTy Records) – Washington State's Sicko debut album You Can Feel the Love In the Room will always be in my Top-25 favorite albums of all time but that album is a little too fast and manic to really be considered Pop/Punk. Their second album Chef-Boy-R-U-Dumb was good but it was on their third album where the smiles and pop hooks really came out. Eleven original songs of punk/pop bliss, with a cover of (Canadian band) Cub's "Little Star". They do have some fun with the faux-metal of "Weasel of Doom" hidden at the end of the album.

14) Consumed – Pistold at and Dawn (2002, Golf Records) – I actually passed over this album when it was originally released since their two Fat Wreck Chords releases to me sounded like sup par Screeching Weasel or NoFX albums. This was a major mistake. Pistols contains some of the thickest pop hooks and funny sarcastic lyrics I have heard. There have been times when I have listend to this album three times in a row.
13) Smoking Popes – Born to Quit (1995, Capital Records) – It's a shame this Chicago band often gets deemed a "One Hit Wonder" since they never really put our a bad album. From the rougher more punk sounding Get Fired to the "reunion" albums of the 2000's The Smoking Popes perfected their own brand of "Low Self-Esteem" pop/punk that significantly influenced another band on this list. Yes "Need You Around" is on this album but so are nine other pop/punk gems.
12) The Dickies – Incredible Shrinking Dickies (1979, A&M Records)- Is it okay to like The Dickies again? To perfectly capture the who experience of this legendary California band you have to listn to one of their (many) compilation albums, but again I don't include compilations in these lists. Out of their individual albums their debut takes the prize since there are so many songs that defined their sound ("Give it Back", "You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla") and perfectly picked covers ("Sounds of Silence", "Paranoid")
11) The Get Up Kids - Something to Write Home About (1999, Vagrant Records) -Many people still consider The Get Up Kids an "Emo" band but I think by the time the Kansas City band released their second album Something to Write Home About all the "emo-ness" had been shed. Instead what is left is underappreciated pop/punk masterpiece.
10) Green Day – Dookie (1994, Reprise) – Of course Green Day would pop up on this list somewhere. Some people may feel their debut or Kerplunk! would be more deserving, and although Kerplunk! is definitely my favorite of their albums, Dookie is the pick since their debut was very good but still a little rough, and Kerplunk! is seriosuly brought down by the terrible "Dominated Love Slave". Their post Dookie albums I feel lean more to power/pop than punk. Plus when you think of the songs on this record tracks like "Basket Case", "When I Come Around", and "Longview" are always the first to come to mind. We often forget about such awesome numbers like "Coming Clean", "Sassafras Root", and the (better sounding than the version on Kerplunk! ) "Welcome to Paradise". I do have to add this album would be much higher on my list if it wasn't  for the terrible "All By Myself" that closes out the album
9) Chixdiggit! – S/T (1996, Sub Pop Records). A lot of people forget these Canadians released their first album on Sub Pop before settling on the Fat Wreck Chords owned label Honest Don's. This is actually one of the albums I have listened to the most out of any in my whole collection. Fifteen urgent songs in thirty minutes. Tons of fast guitars without a note our of place. Also almost every song mentions their mom..Such an upbeat fun album. Even when the band is trying to sound mean on "Angriest Young Men (We're The)" you have to smile while you sing along.
8) Alkaline Trio – From Here to Infirmary (2001, Vagrant Records) – No I do not consider Alkaline Trio a pop/punk band but after they released two very good punk albums (Goddmmit and Maybe I'll Catch Fire) and before they began to form their "horror punk" image on the next album (my favorite Good Mourning) , they released a perfect pop/punk album in From Here To Infirmary. Pop hooks all over the place, with barely any horror lyrics in sight.
7) The Lillingtons – Death By Television (1998, Panic Button) – Although I am thanked on the Montana band's debut album Shit Out of Luck (they did a two night stint at my store on their first tour) I still think they really came into their own on the sophomore album Death By Television. Singer Cody's voice got stronger, the songs got faster, guitars got heavier, and the hooks got sharper. They also gained a more "sci-fi" theme to the songs after their first album dealt mostly with high school and girlfriends problems. After a couple more records Cody went on to sing for the pop/punk band Teenage Bottlerocket but The Lillingtons just got back together, released a new album and are touring at the end of the month.
6) The Undertones – S/T (1979, Sire)- On so many of these lists of best pop/punk albums I see people list Belfast's Stiff Little Finger's Inflammable Materials album listed. That is a great punk album but by no means is it a pop/punk album. But if you look a little west to Derry's The Undertones debut self-titled is one. "Family Entertainment", "Male Model", "Here Comes the Summer" "Get Over You" (which I first heard covered by another band on this list), and the seminal "Teenage Kicks", all delivered with singer Feargal Sharkey's one of a kind voice, pretty much invented the genre.  
5) Bracket - 924 Forrestville St (1994, Caroline) – Take the best song by Green Day and beef it up a bit. Take the best vocals of Stan Lee (Of The Dickies) and slow them down a bit. Add more hooks than almost any other band, make the music LOUD and you may get something close to the California band Bracket. Their debut album clocks it at a whopping (for a pop/punk album) 40 minutes but doesn't contain one note of filler. Definitely an underrated album by an underrated band. The album isn't available on Spotify or Apple Music (some of their other albums are) but try to find a copy or check it out on YouTube.
4) The Parasites – Pair of Sides and Punch Lines – (1990 and 1993, Shredder Records)- This will be the only time on the list where I cheat and list two albums together since both of them are equally awesome. Although The Parasites are now based in California, these two albums where released when the band was located in New Jersey. Fittingly so since when you listen to all the hook and harmony filled songs of these two albums you can picture the band playing them over and over again perfecting them in a suburban home garage somewhere in the Garden State. "Let Down" at the end of Punch Lines is in my Top-10 favorite songs of all-time but make sure you listen to it all the way until the end. For the full effect search out the rougher sounding version on the 7" version.  
Bayside – Sirens and Condolences (2004, Victory Records) – Bayside at this point in their career was a hard band to describe because they were so heavy, had so many hooks, thick riffs, and pretty somber vocals and lyrical subject matter. To me they sounded like the perfect mixture of Jawbreaker and The Smoking Popes.Everyone of the eleven songs on Sirens is perfect. They cheered up a bit on subsequent albums. 
3) The Mr T Experience – Making Things With Light (1990 Lookout! Records) – In my opinion The Mr T Experience sounded the best when they had two guitarists. Once Jon Von left the band in 1992 the band just didn't have the FULL sound. Plus the song or two Jon Von sang on each album were sorely missed. Wen he was in the band, they were in a league of their own. The third album Making Things With Light was where everything gelled together perfectly. The hooks and riffs are there, the two guitarists play off each other perfectly, and singer Dr Frank's lyrics are funny as hell. He even sings a song in pig Latin. Side note: I bought this album the same day I bought Nirvana's Bleach album. Years later I would realize they bother contained cover of the Dutch band Shocking Pink. MTX does" Postcard" and Nirvana "Love Buzz.
2) Discount – Half Fiction (1999, Kat Records) – These days Alison Mosshart is mostly known for being the singer of The Kills or the Jack White project The Dead Weather. But before she moved to London and became VV she sang crisp vocals for Florida's Discount. Discount release three albums (and an ep of Billy Bragg songs) but while all three are great their most infectuos collection is 1999's Half Fiction. Not a clunker among the fifteen tracks.

1) The Queers – Love Songs for the Retarded (Lookout! Records 1993) Now this album in my opinion hands down is the best pop/punk album ever released. For the duration of the sixteen songs there is not one note out of place.
It's definitely not The Queers most punk. That would probably be their debut album Grow Up. It's also not their most poppy album. That would probably go to 1996's Don't Back Down. That album is so filled with Beach Boys style harmonies they decided to name it after the Beach Boys song, which they also happen to cover on the album. It was Love Songs where the punk rock speed and attitude songs, like “You're Tripping”, “I Hate Everything”, or “Monster Zero”, are perfectly teamed up with the harmony filled pop songs like “Teenage Bonehead”, ”Debra Jean”, “Granola Head”,and “Daydreaming”. They also pull off some of the best tongue and cheek song titles and lyrics in “ Ursula Finally Has Tits”, Fuck the World”, and “I Can't Stop Farting”, But what more would you expect from a band who picked their name to piss off the locals in their hometown of Portsmouth, NH. Oh, and lets not forget the VERY un-P.C. name of the album. 

Honorable Mentions: 

Screeching Weasel - Anthems for a New Tomorrow (Lookout Records, 1993) - Screeching Weasel is just a little too angry to crack the top 15
The Ergs - DorkRockCorkRod (Whoa Oh Records, 2004) - Very good album but contains a few clunker/filler songs

 Link to Spotify Playlist: Top Pop/Punk Albums of All-Time (In My Opinion)