Returning from the land of hipsters and torn flannels, Punk and Palm Trees is back this week with a whole new set of recs. Heavy on the hooks and light on the seriousness, pop-punk really took hold of the mainstream in the late ’90s and early ’00s when TRL and MTV made three dude-bros telling dick jokes on stage some of the biggest rock stars in the recent memory. This is a genre that relies heavily on good friends and fast guitars.
1) Yellowcard: “Ocean Avenue”
While I’m fairly certain a strong majority of readers will know the track “Ocean Avenue,” the album housing it deserves much more attention. This beautifully balanced LP launched Yellowcard into the airwaves and cemented the group as one of the greats of the early 2000s. Even a decade later, “Way Away” remains one of the best album openers in pop-punk with its mosh-inducing rhythm backing a booming chorus. Sean Mackin’s violin adds a depth to songs such as “Empty Apartments” and the poignant, 9/11-inspired “Believe” that’s hard to find in a genre that tends to regurgitate boring break-up songs. Where to start: “Inside Out”2) Fall Out Boy: “From Under The Cork Tree” For the sake of my own journalistic integrity, I will admit that this is a) not Fall Out Boy’s most pop-punk record and b) more of a pop-rock record than anything else. However, this feisty example of pure heart-on-your-sleeve dour remains a staple for many in this scene. Three of the band’s biggest singles, including “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” capitalize on an incredible ability to pair tongue-in-cheek hooks with irresistible melodies. The album’s deeper cuts show off the juxtaposing teenage anxiety and dapper musicianship, making for real gems including my personal favorite, “Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year.” Bonus points on this one if you can remember the mile-long song titles off the top of your head. **Where to start**: “I Slept With Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me” 3) State Champs: “The Finer Things” Nearly a decade after this genre’s original heyday, the rising group State Champs added to a now-growingly popular scene with its debut “The Finer Things,” released in 2013. Clean production on the LP leaves everything feeling bright and promising — not unlike the upcoming June weekends. “Elevated” launches the album with a stunning burst while “Critical” imposes a brilliant summer mantra — “I won’t let this life get so critical.” Earworm melodies will ease any listener into the genre gracefully and remind us of one surefire thing; that, as New Found Glory put it, “Pop-punk’s not dead.” **Where to start**: “Elevated” 4) Brand New: “Your Favorite Weapon” One of the most vitriolic albums I’ve heard to date captures the very essence of pop-punk, making it an awesome match to energize your summer drives. The charging energy behind every chugging guitar and Jesse Lacey’s shout drips with sarcasm and metaphors a plenty. With its insatiable power and wit, “Your Favorite Weapon” covers all the major topics you want in summer music: laziness, misspent Saturday nights and aggravating love interests. Despite the barrage of sparkplug tracks one after another, there are slower moments on the record. “Soco Amaretto Lime” takes a strong stance for the false immortality of 18 proclaiming, “I’m gonna stay 18 forever” and “You’re just jealous ‘cause we’re young and in love,” as a quiet guitar strums along. This is a true tour de force of its genre and well worth the looks you’ll get while air drumming in your car. **Where to start**: “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad” 5) Blink-182: “Enema Of The State” Simple power chords and famously sophomoric lyrics lay the framework for Blink-182’s five-time platinum album “Enema of the State.” The slacker attitude weaved throughout perfectly compliments summer vacation. This California trio rightfully earned its incredulous success with massive anthems including “All The Small Things” and “What’s My Age Again?” At the time, this style of pop-punk had almost never been done before, and the combination of the two has been done and re-done ever since. So if you want to start your summer with a true classic, “Enema of the State” will be the way to go. **Where to start**: “Going Away to College” Check out Punk and Palm Trees’ Spotify playlist below!