Guide To Punk

By Jackson Anderson

Why haven’t I done this before? I have spent three months attempting to talk about my life in relation to my greatest passion, and only hand waving the fact that this passion in question is a fairly obscure one that most people will have little knowledge about. I would like to remedy this situation a bit. Punk can be an unruly beast to tame; it’s in its nature, but with a bit of finess and perseverance, I am confident that everyone will find something that they like in the broad depths of the oft-misunderstood genre that is punk rock.

 

 

First let me address this flip flopping issue I have between saying “punk” and “punk rock.” These really don’t mean the same thing at all. One is an ideology, the other is a type of music. The ideology has come to describe the type of music that sprang from what is called “punk rock,” a movement that sprang from bands such as Ramones and Minor Threat in the 70’s and 80’s. Sonically, however, punk music, as I will refer to the broader genre that I will be discussing in the guide, is incredibly diverse. Nearly everything under the sun fits into the genre of punk, but isn’t necessarily punk rock. Folk punk, for instance, takes to heart the ideals of individuality, protest, and a desire to tell an uncompromising truth, but is a far cry from the sound of Ramones or The Clash. Similarly, crust punk has the same individualistic spirit of telling cold, hard facts that may be uncouth at times, but vocals tend to be incredibly abrasive, and “screamy.” This is a bit closer to what people think of when they think of “punk,” but this is still vastly different from the sound of the forefathers of the genre.

 

 

So, what makes something punk? To save some precious white space, I’m going to redirect you to an essay I wrote on exactly that.  If you don’t want to read that, I’d quickly summarize the punk ideology as a desire to tell true stories. It’s real people writing about real things, with the desire to communicate details about the world taking precedence over the desire to make it big as a musician. Generally speaking, punk musicians write their own songs, are on independent record labels, and aren’t afraid to shy away from discussing issues that might be a little awkward at dinner. Basically, any band can be a punk band, and many famous musicians had very punk ideologies even if they were far away from the punk scene.

 

 

If you’re still interested in exploring the vast plains of punk music, here is my extensive guide on how to do just that.

 

The Big Ten

These are 10 classic punk albums that everyone should hear not only from a punk music standpoint, but from a musical standpoint in general. These are the required listening of the genre that all fans will have heard, and nearly everyone loves.

  1. Rancid – …And Out  Comes The Wolves

Genre: Pop-Punk

I’m sure most punk rockers would put this on their list of favorite albums, but probably not on the number one spot. It’s definitely not on mine, but it’s a great introduction record. It’s just fun to listen to. It’s got great musicianship: fun guitar parts, pounding bass lines, entertaining drumbeats. Tim Armstrong’s voice might be offputting to some, –I would recommend skipping the album if it starts annoying you– but he and Lars Frederickson also sing their hearts out.

2. Descendents – Milo Goes to College

Genre: Melodic Hardcore

This record is corny as hell, and it’s a blast. Three out of the four band members were still in high school during the recording of this album, and it shows. You might have to transport yourself into the mind of a teenage boy in 1981 to fully appreciate this album, but when you do, I think it’s an entertaining listen. Even if you find the songwriting to be on the immature side, Descendents were top notch musicians even during their younger years, and bassist Tony Lombardo in particular shows off his technical prowess.

3. Fugazi – 13 Songs

Genre: Post-Hardcore

This is definitely the most technical album on this list. Fans of Pink Floyd or Joy Division should enjoy Fugazi’s 13 Songs, an impressive, jammy effort that possesses the energy and quickness of the punk spirit. Both Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto show off their songwriting capability on this album, if you can manage to figure out what they’re talking about (I haven’t.)

4. Operation Ivy – Energy (or Operation Ivy) They only released one album and depending on how you listen to them they may have their entire discography available instead of their album. This is simply titled Operation Ivy.

Genre: Ska-Punk

This is very similar to …And Out Comes The Wolves. It might have something to do with the fact that half of the band is the same! They share many of the same positive qualities: ear-catching distorted guitars, punchy bass lines, and an overall air of jocundity to the listening experience. You’re probably going to be saying pick it up a couple of times after listening to this.

5. The Clash – London Calling

Genre: Punk Rock

My friend Max described The Clash as “objectively good music.” That’s a nice, succinct, description of one of punk’s forefathers. Fans of classic rock should enjoy London Calling, but, then again, you’ve probably already heard it. London Calling was one of the pioneers in expanding punk rock from “punk rock” to “punk music.” There are ska, reggae, rockabilly, jazz, and so many other musical influences on this record, and it made a lot of punk musicians realize that they didn’t all need to sound the same.

6. NOFX – Punk in Drublic

Genre: Pop-Punk

This is the only album on this list that I included because I felt obligated to and not because I like it. It was incredibly influential on modern pop-punk –an incredibly broad sub-genre of punk music that really needs to be further divided to better describe what is actually going on sonically– that a ton of punk rockers rave about being the best thing ever. It’s not my favorite NOFX album by a long shot, but it has some good songs on it. It’s accessible, and the only thing off-putting about Punk In Drublic should be Fat Mike’s obscene lyrics.

7. Ramones – Ramones

Genre: Pop-Punk

Duh.

8. Bad Religion – Suffer

Genre: Hardcore Punk

It’s hardcore, but not that hardcore. Suffer is more accessible than you might think. I know hardcore sounds scary, but give it a chance. It’s fast, angry, short, and pretentious, but Suffer has a certain charm to it. It has surprisingly clear vocals, intelligent lyrics, vocal harmonies, and the guitar parts became the defacto structure for wanna be hardcore bands for decades.

9. Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime

Genre: No

A quadruple album that is under 75 minutes long, Double Nickels On The Dime sees London Calling and declares it too narrow-minded and samey. It manages to both stay within the conventions of melodic hardcore, while completely jumping outside the box. There are songs on this album that could be found on any of the other albums on this list, and there are songs on this album that are just the sound of water flowing. It’s totally weird, but some people love that stuff. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t have the mental capacity to deal with Double Nickels On The Dime.

10. The Bouncing Souls – How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Genre: Pop-Punk

Sadly, this is the first time that I have mentioned The Bouncing Souls aside from mentioning that I haven’t mentioned them. This is by far and a way the newest album on the list, but I think it has a place on here. It nicely typifies the sort of fun, apolitical pop-punk in which, armed with only four chords and a truth, simple, well-crafted songwriting comes to the fore while still preserving the punk spirit.

 

The Jackson Anderson Starter Pack

Those were the ten albums that the man wanted me to tell you to listen to, these are the ten albums that I want you to listen to when you start out.

  1. The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past 

Genre: Orgcore (More on this later)

Even after the fiftieth spin, this record still surprises me with how good it is. It redefined the genre. It valiantly shouted “Punk’s not dead!” It topped virtually every punk-related list of the top albums of 2012. It signaled the beginning of a new exciting chapter in punk music: modern punk. The Menzingers are the punk version of Jesus rising again, and thus far punk God has allowed them to stay with us. The vocals are a perfect mix of showing off incredible talent by virtue of clean, saccharine vocal harmonies and fleeting throaty screams. The guitar work stands out as breaking away from the usual four chord structure, and actually bringing something new to the punk scene. On The Impossible Past is the big one.

2. No Use For A Name – Hard Rock Bottom

Genre: People say it’s hardcore, but it’s really 90’s pop-punk / skate punk

No Use For A Name have the perfect blend of fast, aggressive guitar and bass work that is a little more intricate and complicated than your average hardcore band. One might be tempted to call them melodic hardcore if not for Tony Sly’s vocal style. He never screams, and had some of the best chops in the punk scene period. He was also one of the best songwriters that ever graced the scene with his presence. They’re thematically depressing, and sonically upbeat. They present a beautiful dichotomy that deserves an early listen.

3. Iron Chic – Not Like This

Genre: Orgcore

Iron Chic are the easy listening music of punk, and that’s not a bad thing at all. Jason Lubrano has a great voice, it’s scratchy and has that characteristic punk throaty edge to it, and he elects to never be abrasive with it. It’s a really interesting choice. Iron Chic always stick to their catchy pop-punk hooks, and hope never to chance to offend the ear. They also have one of the best songwriters out there, Phil Douglas, on their lineup, who always manages to impress both lyrically and musically. If you like to hear impressive technical guitar parts, Not Like This is your album.

4. Elway – Delusions

Genre: Orgcore

It was hard for me to decide which Elway album to recommend. Ultimately, I decided on my least favorite. I could rephrase that to say my third favorite Elway album and thus still in my top twenty albums, but that would be less dramatic. Elway are graced with yet another one of punk’s greatest songwriters in Tim Browne, who is also a master at the balancing act between showcasing his vocal talent with clear, bright singing, and a fleeting scream. Delusions is Elway’s easiest record to get into, with adaptations of folk songs and despondent tales of lost loves, and should be interesting to anyone who has ever felt anything.

5. The Wonder Years – Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing

Genre: True Pop-Punk

The third album from punk’s best band at telling you what they did today, Suburbia… is the second chapter in a trilogy of concept albums about the life and times of the band’s frontman, Dan “Soupy” Campbell. It details the trials and tribulations of a young man living in suburban America, ranging from aging to depression to a lack of religious identity. It’s an album that does an amazing job at letting you peek into the mind of another person, and in many ways feels almost movie-like.

6. The Hotelier – Home, Like NoPlace Is There

Genre: Emo (Revival)

This album is very similar in concept to Suburbia… except the narrator in this story leads a very different life. Home… is an incredibly dark and depressing album that deals with abuse, suicide, loss, and struggles with gender dysphoria to name a few. Vocalist Christian Holden is the starkest example of the contrast between silky smooth vocals and blood-curdling screaming. He has an incredible vocal and emotional range on this record, which is particularly necessary considering the subject matter.

7. Red City Radio – Titles 

Genre: Orgcore

I could copy and paste the description for On The Impossible Past, and change The Menzingers to Titles, and it would be nearly true. Red City Radio are that good, and that should have been the reaction that they got. Except they didn’t. They chugged along relatively under the radar, garnering seemingly universal praise, albeit that isn’t that impressive when hardly anyone listens to the album. Red City Radio is a criminally underrated band that has produced two of the best records of the decade, and hardly anyone seems to know that they exist. Both vocally and instrumentally, there is a lot of talent showcased on this record, particularly by Vocalist Garrett Dale and bassist Jonathan Knight. Red City Radio is also one of the few bands that I would describe as charismatic. They are able to keep their southern affect about them through their music, and their unabashed loyalty to rock n’ roll through it all just puts a smile on my face.

8.  Tigers Jaw – Tigers Jaw

Genre: Emo Revival I guess, but it doesn’t really matter

Tigers Jaw is another band and album that has very little chance of being sonically, or even lyrically, offensive. They play clean-cut, mid tempo ballads with very clean and well-produced vocals. There is never any screaming or any edge. All three of their vocalists have very smooth and unwavering voices, yet they are still able to reach a broad range of emotions. They also have a keyboardist to mix things up a little bit, and while I can’t really say if she’s any good, I like the variety. Sometimes they lean a little on the pretentious side, but I would classify Tigers Jaw’s songwriting as intelligent and depressing if a bit melodramatic.

9. Cold Wrecks – Breaking

Genre: Emo Revival

I’m going to take a chance and recommend an album that hasn’t even been out for two months. This might be spoilers come January and I have to pick an album of the year. One fateful day I was browsing the punk subreddit and some guy made a post there asking people to check out his band’s new release. I followed the link to an album called Breaking by Cold Wrecks. I listened to it. Then I listened to it again. Then I listened to it five more times in the next week. I was hooked. These guys had come out of nowhere. They were completely unknown. And their album was one of the best that I had ever heard. It was well-produced, lyrically intelligent and substantial, every instrument had interesting parts. I’d check this out if you liked any of the bands I called emo or if you liked The Wonder Years or if you have ever felt slighted or sad or anxious. I almost forgot about this album, it’s really good and I’m sure you’ll like it.

10. The Lawrence Arms – The Greatest Story Ever Told

Genre: Orgcore

Duh.

The Subgenres

I often decry the use of subgenres due to the fact that the overuse of them can quickly devolve into semantic discussions about whether something qualifies as powerviolence or d-beat, while they are sonically near-indistinguishable. However, when dealing with genres as broad as punk music, they come in handy. There are a lot of subgenres in punk music, but I’ll go over a few of the more common ones, describe them, say who will probably like them, and name drop a few bands. Also, I’m going to tend to stay away from blanket terms like pop-punk in order to get as specific as possible. The accessibility rating is a rating out of ten of how easy the genre is to get into. It’s a combination of how easy the music is to find, and how much you should have to push yourself to like it. Some subgenres are a little bit more shocking or divisive than others, and tend to be less accessible. As a rule of thumb, the more “hardcore” and screamy something is, the less accessible it is.

Key:

An asterisk* denotes the most popular recommendation to all audiences. It should be the easiest to digest, and the most familiar record to everyone.

A pound# denotes the fan favorite. Punk rockers and fans of the subgenre like this record the most.

A tilde~ denotes my favorite record.

Ska Punk

For fans of: ska, jazz, reggae, indie rock, alternative rock, classic rock

What it is: People will fight me over the definition of ska. I’m just going to say sometimes it’s melodic hardcore bands with a horn section, sometimes it’s pop-punk bands with a horn section, sometimes it’s a melodic hardcore band with walking bass lines and palm-muted down-up-down-up guitar techniques. Wars have been started over the definition of ska. I think of it as a fusion between jazz and reggae. So ska-punk is like a fusion between jazz, reggae, and either melodic hardcore or pop-punk. It’s usually pretty cool. So then we have to branch off in two directions we have:

Accessibility Rating: 8/10

Poster Child: Slapstick (I guess, there isn’t a clear poster child for non-hardcore ska punk)

Skacore

For fans of: ska, jazz, reggae, hard rock, metal, hardcore

What it is: A fusion between hardcore punk and ska; pretty simple.

Accessibility Rating: 6/10

Poster Child: The Suicide Machines

Recommendations:

The Suicide Machines – Destruction By Definition

#*Operation Ivy – Energy (some people might disagree with this classification)

Against All Authority – All Fall Down

Voodoo Glow Skulls – Firme (they have this record in two languages, which is pretty cool. If you’re feeling adventurous, try Firme en Espanol)

~Citizen Fish – Life Size

If hardcore sounds too scary some mellower ska-punk bands are:

#Slapstick – Slapstick

~*Less Than Jake – Hello Rockview

Streetlight Manifesto – The Hands That Thieve

Goldfinger – Hang-Ups

Catch-22 – Keasbey Nights

 

Folk Punk

For fans of: folk, indie rock, indie folk, country

What it is: If you like acoustic instruments then this is probably your genre. There are subgenres of subgenres, so if you like the whole anarchy thing, there are plenty of folk-punk bands out there to suit your needs, but a lot of folk-punk bands tend to shy away from that. A lot of folk-punk bands tend towards depressing, vulnerable, and introspective lyrics, and have clean vocals (as in they don’t scream; if language is an issue, then punk probably isn’t your genre, sorry.)

Accessibility Rating: 8/10

Poster Child: Andrew Jackson Jihad (recently rebranded as AJJ)

Recommendations:

*#Andrew Jackson Jihad (recently rebranded as AJJ) – People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World 

Mischief Brew – Songs From Under The Sink

The Taxpayers – To Risk So Much For One Damn Meal

Ramshackle Glory – Live the Dream 

~Pat The Bunny – Probably Nothing, Possibly Everything

 

Horror Punk

For fans of: zombies, vampires, hard rock, metal, classic rock, elvis

What it is: This subgenre is weird, and I love it. I forget about it, and then sometimes it dawns on me how strange it’s existence is. Largely due to the success of a seminal punk band that I have yet to mention and subsequent semi-successful copycat acts, there is a whole subgenre of punk in which people dress up in Halloween costumes, sing about zombies and stuff, and all of their singers seem to be doing their best Elvis impression. You want to check it out, don’t you?

Accessibility Rating: 5/10

Poster Child: Misfits

Recommendations:

#*Misfits – Static Age (What started it all)

~Calabrese – The Traveling Vampire Show (I think this is better than Misfits, seriously, these guys have no right to be as good as they are. Listen to “Voices of the Dead”)

Balzac – Beyond the Darkness (You can learn Japanese at the same time!)

The Murder City Devils – In Name And Blood

Cancerslug – Seasons of Sickness… (NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART, that being said, this record is really fun)

 

Orgcore

For fans of: alternative rock, indie rock, classic rock

What it is: This is my favorite subgenre of punk, and it’s basically a joke. It’s essentially a sub-classification of pop-punk that pretentious people like me listen to, and then go and talk about it on the internet. If you remember that pop-punk scale of saccharinity that I made, these bands tend to have high numbers, meaning low saccharinity because I designed the scale poorly.

Accessibility Rating: 7/10

Poster Child: The Lawrence Arms

Recommendations:

~The Lawrence Arms – The Greatest Story Ever Told 

*The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past

Elway – Delusions

#Iron Chic – The Constant One

Captain, We’re Sinking – The Future Is Cancelled

Off With Their Heads – Home

Banner Pilot – Collapser

The Loved Ones – Keep Your Heart

 

Beard

For fans of: alternative rock, indie rock, classic rock, beards, attractive men

What it is: Mid-saccharinity pop-punk with gruff vocals. The name is a joke, but the bands sound similar, and I like it. This is an excuse to recommend more of my favorite bands.

Accessibility Rating: 7/10

Poster Child: Hot Water Music

*Hot Water Music – A Flight and A Crash

#Nothington – Roads, Bridges, and Ruins

~Red City Radio – Titles

Arms Aloft – Sawdust City

The Sidekicks – So Long, Soggy Doggy

 

Emo (Revival)

For fans of: Indie rock, alternative rock, metalcore (bit of a stretch), hard rock, metal

What it is: Emo is short for emotional hardcore, which is a stupid name for a genre that I used to think was stupid. A cool band called Rites of Spring was dubbed “emo” for singing about depression and suicide instead of “the man” during the 80’s. The band’s own frontman hated the term, and said that other hardcore punk bands at the time were just as emotional as Rites of Spring, and the term died off for a number of years. Recently it’s come back, and it doesn’t really sound like Rites of Spring at all. It tends to be well-produced music that lacks a lot of the distortion and effects that are characteristic of a lot of punk music. Emo tends also tends to be fairly dark thematically, although there are plenty of emo bands that are fairly light hearted, such as Modern Baseball. Emo tends to get somewhat of a bad rep, and is mocked sometimes, but I kind of dig it. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m big on the transference of emotions. That’s kind of emo’s thing.

Accessibility Rating: 8/10

Recommendations:

The Hotelier – Home, Like NoPlace Is There

#Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again

*Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All

Tigers Jaw – Tigers Jaw

Cold Wrecks – Breaking

~For Everest – We Are at Home in the Body

The latter two of these recommendations are both obscure and current, but they’re two of my favorite emo albums, so what the heck?

Hardcore Punk

For fans of: Hard rock, metal, metalcore, alternative rock, classic rock

What it is: Don’t count this one out; you might be surprised. It sounds scary, but regular old hardcore punk is fairly tame in the greater scheme of things. Songs are short, angry, and fast. There’s a lot of screaming, but it’s not usually the harsh sort of metal screaming, it’s just that they’re singing loudly and enthusiastically, but there’s still a melodious quality to it. It’s good, trust me.

Accessibility Rating: 4/10

Poster Child: Black Flag (and I didn’t even recommend them; I really don’t like this band)

Recommendations:

*~Bad Religion – No Control (Yeah, a different album than the big ten, both for variety’s sake and because I like it more)

#Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (this album is partially responsible for the creation of the PMRC; it’s awesome)

Minor Threat – Complete Discography 

Bad Brains – Bad Brains

Adolescents – Adolescents 

Melodic Hardcore

For fans of: Hard rock, metal, metalcore, alternative rock, classic rock

What it is: It’s like hardcore punk, but melodic. What this actually means is the songs are a little bit longer, a little bit slower, and a little bit less angry. If you lean towards the proggier sides of metal, melodic hardcore might be more up your alley. It tends to be more technical and refined as well as having cleaner vocals. It’s a bit harder to distinguish from some of the mellower subgenres of metal, but I don’t pretend to know anything about that, so I won’t comment on it.

Accessibility Rating: 5/10

Poster Child: Rise Against

Recommendations:

Ignite – Our Darkest Days

~A Wilhelm Scream – Partycrasher

Strung Out – Exile in Oblivion

*Rise Against – Siren Song of the Counter-Culture

#H20 – Nothing To Prove

True Pop Punk

For fans of: high fidelity rock? indie rock, alternative rock, power pop

What it is: Pop-punk is a term that keeps me up at night. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s catch-all term for so many different types of music that further sub genres have cropped up that are all jokes and make people upset, like orgcore, beardcore, easycore, and things like that. I’d like to typify “true pop-punk” as music that is extremely well-produced, high budgeted, and tends to have a low rating on my saccharinity scale. These bands tend to be the most well-known pop-punk bands, and those that make the people in the leather jackets and mohawks upset.

Accessibility Rating: 9/10

Poster Child: The Wonder Years

Recommendations:

~*The Wonder Years – No Closer To Heaven

#The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation

The Wonder Years – Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing

The Wonder Years – The Upsides

I haven’t really explored this genre that much, these are the only albums that I can recommend because I have listened to them.

If you like The Wonder Years, other bands that people have told me are similar are The Story So Far, Set Your Goals, Four Year Strong, and Man Overboard, but I’m going to divorce all liability of them being good (that’s not a band name.)

 

Street Punk (Also known as Oi!)

For fans of: alternative rock, classic rock, hard rock, metal

What it is: Street punk is a bit of a weird one, because it is in and of itself more of an ideology than a description of sonic quality. These are the working class, leftist, political-tinted punk bands that are responsible for a lot of the stereotypes in the genre. They keep up the whole tough guy act, they wear the leather jackets, they have mohawks. Sonically, they’re a bit more easygoing than hardcore. It’s a sort of happy medium between hardcore and pop.

Accessibility Rating: 4/10

Poster Child: The Casualties

Recommendations:

~Swingin’ Utters – Poorly Formed

#Sham 69 – Adventures of the Hersham Boys

Lars Frederiksen And The Bastards – Lars Frederiksen And The Bastards

*The Casualties – For the Punx 

The Unseen – State Of Discontent 

90’s Pop Punk or Skate Punk

For fans of: hard rock, alternative rock, indie rock, metal

What it is: Another unfortunate product of the umbrella term that is pop-punk, 90’s pop-punk has another fairly unique sound to it that is different from the the high-fidelity pop-punk of The Wonder Years or the low-saccharinity everyman tales of Orgcore. 90’s Pop Punk is closer to melodic hardcore than those genres, but tends to have vocals that are a bit sweeter, catchier choruses, and a little bit of added cheesiness for good measure.  This is another subgenre that doesn’t really exist, but all of these bands sound similar, and I think this is one of the better places to start on here.

Accessibility Rating: 9/10

Poster Child: NOFX

Recommendations:

~No Use For A Name – Hard Rock Bottom (I felt the need to point out how good this record was in parentheses, so there’s that. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of options in this guide, start with Hard Rock Bottom.)

*NOFX – War on Errorism (“But this album came out in 2003,” I hear you cry. Yeah, it did, but NOFX pretty much wrote the book on 90’s pop punk, and War on Errorism is their best.)

#Millencolin – Pennybridge Pioneers (see above parenthetical)

Lagwagon – Hoss

Face to Face – Face To Face

I think that’s where I’m going to call it. There are some notable subgenres that I didn’t include, but I don’t think any of my readers here would like them. I might update this in the future, but for now, this should be a pretty decent and broad list of places to start in the exploration of punk rock.

 

Post-Hardcore

For fans of: classic rock, alternative rock, Pink Floyd, post-punk, progressive rock

What it is: If you like jammy, technical guitar, drum, and bass parts, this genre is for you. This subgenre breaks from the four chords and a truth schtick of a lot of punk bands, and is willing to have songs that go beyond four minutes in length. Vocals also tend to be a lot cleaner compared to hardcore bands, and bassists also aren’t afraid to turn their instrument up loud.

Accessibility Rating: 6/10

Poster Child: Fugazi

Recommendations:

~*Fugazi – Repeater

Drive Like Jehu – Yank Crime

#NoMeansNo – Wrong (This band and album is just strange, but also displays some of the best musicianship in punk music)

Big Black – Songs About Fucking (I feel like I can’t just throw this out there without addressing the title. Yeah, it’s abrasive, but it’s also pretty awesome if you can stomach it; just know what you’re getting into)

Q and not U – No Kill No Beep Beep 

 

Unpop Punk

For fans of: alternative rock, indie rock, metal, hard rock, metalcore, that nice little bit of edge in the throat,

What it is: I had to come back for this one. Dillinger Four made this up I think, but everything was made up by somebody at some point. To further my point that pop-punk doesn’t exist and is a terrible term, Dillinger Four had to come up with another subgenre for their own music because it was too catchy and hook filled to be hardcore, but too abrasive and weird to be truly pop-punk. They decided it was unpop punk. It’s a perfect mix of that melodic catchy drive that fills pop-punk and that gritty screaming that is found in hardcore, albeit a lot cleaner. There might be some overlap here with orgcore, but that’s my favorite subgenre so I’m not going to lose sleep over recommending more good bands that I didn’t before.

Accessibility Rating: 6/10

Poster Child: Dillinger Four (obviously)

Recommendations:

~*Dillinger Four – C I V I L W A R

Plow United – Marching Band

None More Black – File Under Black

Riverboat Gamblers – To The Confusion Of Our Enemies

#Dwarves – The Dwarves Are Young and Good Looking (Dwarves are a band that started out with unabashed completely shocking hardcore punk, and quickly mellowed out over the years. Simultaneously they were a constant satire of the stage antics of G.G. Allin and Iggy Pop, running around in the nude on stage smashing equipment while singing sugary sweet pop songs. All of their album covers feature naked women, and they love to talk about how great of a band they are. You just have to keep in mind that everything they do is satirical.)

Rumspringer – Rumspringer (I think this is the only EP on this guide; I saw no reason to limit it to LPs, it’s just that this was the first band where I felt their best work was an EP)

I don’t know why I recommended so many bands for this subgenre, maybe I felt like I had to justify that it existed.

Riot Grrrl

For fans of: hard rock, metal, metalcore, alternative rock, feminism, the pacific northwest

What it is: This is probably the most specific subgenre on here as of now. It was a brand of female-fronted hardcore punk that originated in Washington state in the 90s that was all about the ladies. Thematically, a lot of riot grrrl bands deal with domestic abuse, sexuality, rape, racism, and female empowerment, while keeping up with the punk grassroots and DIY ethic. I realized that only two of the bands I had previously recommended had even one woman in them (and only one of those two bands had a female vocalist), so here’s a way to sort of make up for that.

Accessibility Rating: 4/10

Poster Child: Bikini Kill

Recommendations:

*Bikini Kill – Pussy Whipped 

L7 – Bricks Are Heavy

Screaming Females – Rose Mountain (A 2015 release, this subgenre is still very much kicking)

#G. L. O. S. S. – TRANS DAY OF REVENGE (I felt a little nervous loping this in with riot grrrl, but G.L.O.S.S. have similar ideals, and they’re even from Olympia, the birthplace of the genre.)

~War on Women – War on Women

Psychobilly

For fans of: rockabilly (this is the big one), folk, country, r&b, classic rock, horror punk

What it is: Punk’s own version of version of rockabilly, with a horror punk twist. I forgot to add it because I thought I covered it with horror punk, but sonically it’s pretty different. It’s similar in that bands often dress up in halloween costumes and sing about zombies, but with upright basses and hollowbody guitars characteristic of rockabilly. It’s weird, but neat.

Accessibility Rating: 5/10

Poster Child: Nekromantix

Recommendations:

#Nekromantix – Return Of The Loving Dead

~Tiger Army – Tiger Army 

Koffin Kats – Our Way & The Highway

*The Cramps – Off The Bone (Are the Cramps Psychobilly? Was Jesus a Christian? The answer to both of these questions is no, because that didn’t exist at the time. The Dwarves may not have invented rock n’ roll, but the Cramps did invent Psychobilly before there was even a name for it)

The Hillbilly Moon Explosion – Raw Deal