If you’re a little disheartened this week, we’ve picked out three pop-punks bands still flying the flag.
This week saw the release of Blink 182’s new album California. It’s proven to be quite a divisive release. We quite liked it, but other commentators online seem to hate it: there’s many comments saying it’s not their best work, and I’ve even seen some more hyperbolic commentators saying it proves pop-punk is dying as a genre. Now I’ll concede that California is a far cry from the quality of Dude Ranch but the death knell of the entire pop-punk scene? I don’t buy it. Blink 182 might be on decline but the scene has never been stronger! So if you’re one of the people perhaps a little disheartened this week, I’ve picked out three bands who have picked up the pop-punk slack where the genre stalwarts have perhaps slipped.
This Chicago band released their debut album, Copacetic, last year and have been flying high ever since. They put the “punk” back into pop-punk thanks to a grittier sound based around loud aggressive guitar work. But the big draw of the genre is it’s earnest, endlessly quotable lyrics and boy do Knuckle Puck have these in droves. For example, the song “No Good” opens with frontman Joe Taylor shouting “where’s your respect? and didn’t your father teach you anything before he left” which is blisteringly aggressive as opening lines go. I’ve only discovered this band recently, but I can’t get enough.
These Philadelphia pop-punkers (say that five times fast) have been around for a while, with three full length albums under their belt. Falling towards the folk-punk side of the genre spectrum, what has gained modern baseball plaudits are their lyrics. Their sound is a very “millennial” form of expression; much of their music deals with how modern relationships are defined by social media. One of their songs is even called “I Think You Were In My Profile Picture Once” – a comment on the superficial closeness sites like Facebook offer. Modern Baseball are also a very sarcastic band. Their songs often cut out for a witty aside which gives the impression of a conversation between frontman and the listener. It’s an incredibly personal music.
The Front Bottoms
This brings me to my motivation for writing this piece, The Front Bottoms. When this band played The Joiners Arms in Southampton (phenomenal venue by the way) a few years ago, the venues website described the band as a mixture of early Green Day and Joni Mitchell. This is an incredibly apt description of what this band tries to do with their music. On the surface the band sing about the twenty something lifestyle: going to uni, awkward house parties, smoking weed, living paycheque to paycheque, etc. etc..
But almost every song has a “break” of sorts where Brian Sella, the front man, begins to sing about something deeper. The Front Bottoms really capture the existentialist meltdown, or quarter-life crisis as it were, that you experience in the weird transition between childhood and adulthood. They deal with: failed relationships; loneliness; an inability to live in the moment; finding out that life is a longer road than you imagined; and much, much more. I know that pop-punk as a genre is explicit in it’s desire to be relatable but, at least for me personally, The Front Bottoms are the most authentic attempt at capturing what growing up was actually like.