Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top 5 Pop Punk Albums

Feeling inspired to write something, but inspired enough to write anything original. So I made a list of my five favorite pop punk albums.

One thing to note before I get started. "Pop punk" is kind of difficult to define because it's used so broadly. I generally use it as a term of describe the waves of bands that were on Lookout! Records in the late 80's and early 90's and aped the Ramones at every chance. Just clearing that up so there's really no surprise at to what's on this list (and if you know anything about that sound, you can probably already guess a majority of the albums I'm about to mention).

Without further ado, here we go

#5. The Ergs! - dorkrockcorkrod

Duh? The Ergs! took the pop punk formula- mostly the Descendents route, writing songs about nerdy things and girls- and mixed it up with fantastic musicianship. Dorkrock kept it simple while also being complex (at least by the genre's standards), writing songs with only three or four chords and catchy hooks.  Only two out of sixteen tracks surpass the 3 minute mark and that's just because one of them contains a hidden track. If there is any reason why pop punk is still alive and kicking today, there is a good chance that it is because of this album.  Unfortunately, the Ergs! split up not too long ago, but the members are still out there making music (namely drummer/vocalist Mikey Erg who is currently playing in The Slow Death, Star Fucking Hipsters, Psyched to Die and House Boat amongst others) so it is not like they just vanished off the Earth forever.

Some Tunes for the Interested:
A Very Pretty Song for a Very Special Young Lady Part 2
Pray for Rain
Rod Argent

# 4. The Queers - Love Songs for the Retarded

Who doesn't know the Queers by now? Sure, this was after they lost Wimpy on vocals and started going toward a more Beach Boys oriented direction (and then continued to make albums that aren't exactly distinguishable from one another), but Love Songs for the Retarded is most definitely a pop punk masterpiece.  Lyrically, the Queers take a mostly humorous approach as evidenced by most songs (and some titles like "Ursula Finally Has Tits" and "I Can't Stop Farting"), and they don't necessarily break new ground (girls, teen angst, insulting hippies, bowel problems) but sometimes the best albums aren't the ones that venture into new territory, but the ones that explore previous themes that just sound good together ("Fuck the World" is also one of my favorite love songs, for the retarded or otherwise).

Some Tunes for the Interested:
Ursula Finally Has Tits
Fuck the World (sometimes known as "Fuck This World")
Granola Head

#3. The Lillingtons - Death By Television

The Lillingtons are highly praised by people who know them and are criminally underrated by everyone else. That's not 100% true, but I think it's close enough that it could be. In terms of sound, the Lillingtons definitely rip off the Ramones the most out of any band on this list, but I mean that in the best way possible because it's still a well crafted disc. What makes this album so fun is the lyrical aspect, it's based entirely around 1950's Sci Fi B-movie themes. It's also really easy to sing along to pretty much all the songs (although I'll admit, most pop punk is easy to sing with, it's a staple of the genre). And if that is not enough, Fat Mike also called this the greatest pop punk album ever. So yeah, there's some credibility(?) for ya if my praise wasn't enough.

Some Tunes for the Interested:
Black Hole in My Mind
X-Ray Specs
Phantom Maggot

#2. Green Day - 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours
The one album that kind of deviates a bit from the typical sound. A few things to note:

1. Yes. An "old Green Day" album, I know- "how typical."
2. An "old Green Day" album that isn't Dookie?
3. I know this isn't technically an "album" but a "compilation."

My responses:
1. I've been a huge Green Day fan since International Superhits. That was only in 2001 so it wasn't that long ago, but it does mean that I've liked "old Green Day" before there was any distinction between pre- and post-American Idiot.
2. Dookie is a fantastic album, but not my favorite.
3. 1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours is marketed as an album in most cases, hence its inclusion (although the best songs are the ones from the Slappy EP).

Also, I'm stoked that some of these songs made it on to the Awesome as Fuck tracklisting.

Some Tunes for the Interested:
Road to Pasalaqua
Paper Lanterns
409 in Your Coffeemaker

#1. Screeching Weasel - My Brain Hurts

Screeching Weasel used to be at the top of the pop punk game. I won't go into what's happening with them currently (I think I said enough in my previous entry), but in the early 90's they were the best of the best. Musically, and like everyone else in the genre, they took a lot of cues from the Ramones with lead guitarist John Jughead creating some great, bouncy lead lines to make it distinguishable, but lyrically it all came from the mind of Ben Weasel.  There's a lot going on in his head that not many seem to understand and it might have led to some questionable career moves as of late, but when he puts it all into a song it comes out really well.  There's a lot of ground covered on this album; abusive relationships ("Making You Cry," "Veronica Hates Me"), the futility of kicking addictions ("Cindy's On Methadone"), the questioning of faith ("The Science of Myth), growing up and giving in ("What We Hate"), girls ("I Want to Be With You Tonight"), insults ("Fathead") and general confusion and frustration with the world (the titular "My Brain Hurts"). Oh yeah, and a cover of "I Can See Clearly Now."  No matter what the band members themselves are up to, I don't think there's anything that can make me not love this album.

Some Tunes for the Interested:
Cindy's on Methadone
The Science of Myth
My Brain Hurts

And yeah. That's that. I hope that was fun to read (and listen to).

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