A Brief History Of Punk Pt. 3

Every current genre of music has its origins and its influences. In this three part feature, we will discuss the brief history of punk music. This third and final piece will cover 2000 through the present. We will throw a lot of key bands and albums at you, so you’ll have plenty of music to revisit or be introduced to.

We’ve come to the turn of the century. One of the notable band formations from 2000 is Brand New: the band that people love and can be infuriated by all at the same time. The members of Brand New had previous experience with being in bands. But they still brought the raw, gritty feel of punk to the new endeavor. I could likely do a whole piece on how Brand New has affected the scene, but with 15+ years to cover, I should probably save that for later. Some of the usual suspects, such as Green Day, No Doubt, blink–182, and Bad Religion, had releases in 2000. There was no slowing down for the punk community and there would only be more to come.

From 2001 – 2010, we saw a rise in punk music hitting the mainstream. During this time, there were also pop acts that are larger than life. In 2001, Fall Out Boy formed and while their sound has changed over the years, they played a big part in taking the scene mainstream. With the previous two parts in this series, I’ve listed a lot of bands and albums and while I’ll still do that here, I want to dive a little deeper into why things changed the way they did. As we saw in the 90s, pop punk began to rise and sailed it’s way through the mid–2000s. While these bands began to garner attention from major labels, they frequently still had a DIY attitude and that’s what made people love them. The attitude may have stayed the same, but with major labels wanting a piece of the pie, things could quickly go south. We’ve all seen fallouts with labels and their artists, and with punk music it was no different. Bands often started out on smaller labels, only to return to them after a major label flop. We still see this in 2016, too.

But let’s get back to some of the music for a bit. Fall Out Boy released Take This To Your Grave in 2003 and My Chemical Romance released I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love a year earlier. Neither of these releases charted, but they garnered enough attention to have each of their next releases chart. 2003 also brought us Deja Entendu by Brand New and Untitled by blink–182. In 2004, things stared to heat up in the mainstream punk scene. American Idiot took everyone by storm with their political driven rock opera. My Chemical Romance made their mark with Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and believe it or not, MTV still played music videos when these two albums came out. Thanks to those music videos, I also became aware of Catalyst by New Found Glory. So these bands were able to provide powerful imagery to go with their songs and really make a mark.

Not all music was as punk as it was in the 70s and 80s. As pop punk rose, it seemed to overtake punk music in popularity. The punk veterans like Bad Religion, Dropkick Murphys, and more were still putting out releases, but the bands were by no means in their heyday anymore. Green Day still relied heavily on those power chords so often found in punk, but bands like Motion City Soundtrack and Fall Out Boy came along to put even more of a pop twist on things. Now, you can hear Fall Out Boy songs during your sport of choice. It’s great for the bands to be getting this success, but many thought and still think that selling out is not a very punk thing to do. In my opinion, if the bands put in their work, did things the DIY way, and then blew up, I’m perfectly fine with that. If bands are willing to put in the nitty-gritty work, why should they not be rewarded for it?

Since American Idiot, Green Day hasn’t had quite as much success with their following albums. American Idiot hit at just the right time that everyone needed to hear it. It’s the same as when London Calling hit. A lot of a band’s luck comes from impeccable timing, whether intended or not. But to catch up, in the mid–2000s, blink–182 went on a hiatus that wouldn’t last, and well we know how that’s worked itself out in 2016. In 2005, Motion City Soundtrack released Commit This To Memory, which is a must-listen if you somehow haven’t checked out the band before.

Through the late 2000s, Anti-Flag continued to crank out the releases. The mainstream coverage began to ease up a little, but not enough to declare pop punk dead. Fall Out Boy continued to chart and hit number one on the Billboard 200 with Infinity on High. While punk wasn’t exactly at the forefront during this time, punk bands could still be found playing shows, especially in places like Los Angeles and New York. Bad Religion held down the LA scene for years and east coast bands like The Bouncing Souls kept the punk scene alive. It may have been quieter than before, but was never really gone. Philadelphia has a growing punk and pop punk scene that’s contributed some great bands over the years.

Being on the east coast for college, I was able to experience first hand what the DIY attitude is like. I frequently attended shows in people’s basements and even in the basement of a church. Bands like TheMenzingers and The Wonder Years let everyone know that you could still keep the DIY attitude, have huge followings, and not fall into the trap of major labels. The 2010s have brought some new bands that are still finding their place, but there’s a ton of room for them in cities like Philadelphia that embrace the punk scene. By 2010, Bad Religion had been a band for 30 years. Most punk bands didn’t even make it half as long as they did. That year also brought the disbandment of Fall Out Boy, which of course, wouldn’t last. Green Day and blink–182 had less-than-stellar albums release in the 2010s. So while some bands dwindled, others came into the scene and it’s still going strong today.

Before we close this out though, let’s discuss some current bands you should probably check out if you’ve read this far. Pinegrove made waves with Cardinal, Lost In Society feels like a true punk band, Knuckle Puck have been killing it in the pop punk scene, and Into It. Over It. has been at it for a while, but is one you’ll want to check out. Now this may not have ended with the punkest of punk bands, but this is where things stand at the moment. Things are by no means the same as they used to be. I could have listed so many more bands and albums, but the point was for this to be a brief history. Diving in deeper is completely up to you, but highly recommended by me.

A Brief History of Punk Pt. 2

Every current genre of music has its origins and its influences. In this three part feature, we will discuss the brief history of punk music. This second piece will cover 1985 through 1999. We will throw a lot of key bands and albums at you, so you’ll have plenty of music to revisit or be introduced to.

Right around the mid-late 80s is when punk music began to change a bit. In 1985, we received a ton of albums from some of the big names in punk. Black Flag alone released three albums. The Clash released the forgettable Cut The Crap, which I personally just pretend doesn’t exist. The Damned, Dead Kennedys, the Misfits, Fear and X each gave us an album. The Descendents released two albums, I Don’t Want To Grow Up and Bonus Fat. So 1985 was still a solid year, but 1986 is when you can see the shift. This was the year No Doubt and Green Day (actually called Sweet Children at this time) formed along with Good Riddance and Propagandhi. Tragically, it’s also the year that The Clash and Black Flag disbanded. What no one knew, though, was that punk music would begin to go mainstream because of bands like Green Day and No Doubt. While neither had released during ’86, they were gearing up to take the world by storm. However, the Descendents just kept chugging along with yet another release and the Ramones cranked out Animal Boy, which brought us the single, “Somebody Put Something In My Drink.”

Now, 1987 and 1988 brought us some bands whose names should look quite familiar to you: Bouncing Souls, Fugazi, Operation Ivy, Anti-Flag, and Pennywise. Some of these bands wouldn’t last very long, but others are still releasing music today. In 1987, the Dead Kennedys brought one last album to fruition before disbanding. The Descendents released ALL along with Liveage, which is in fact a live album. The Ramones really managed to outlast The Clash and Sex Pistols and released another album. Bad Religion and Social Distortion both decided to reunite that same year. This led to Bad Religion releasing Suffer in 1988 and Social Distortion releasing Prison Bound. But the album you absolutely need to focus on from 1988 is Fugazi’s self-titled album. It’s one for the ages.

Let’s briefly touch on 1989 now before diving into the 90s. Green Day finally released some music with their 1,000 Hours EP. No Doubt had still been quiet. The Offspring released their self-titled album and Operation Ivy released Energy before disbanding that same year. And while Operation Ivy wasn’t around very long, they did have an impact on Green Day and you can see that in the fact that they’d frequently cover Operation Ivy songs and had a similar style at the start of their career. 1989 is also the year when Dee Dee Ramone left the Ramones and was replaced by C.J. until the band ultimately broke up in the mid–90s. So we might as well get to the 90s now.

While things had started to change in the punk scene, 1990 still brought great bands into the scene. Bikini Kill, Drive Like Jehu, Lagwagon and Lifetime are just a few of the new bands to the scene. Today, though, we nitpick genres and have sub-genre after sub-genre, so we’re just discussing punk music as a whole here. Fugazi and Green Day picked up the page with two and three releases, respectively. However, when 1991 rolled around, those Green Day releases meshed into 1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours. 1991 also saw a slew of new bands, namely, AFI, Rancid, Pinhead Gunpowder, and Refused. Bad Religion’s reunion was still going strong an they’d become a mainstay in the punk scene. Around this time, Lookout! Records was becoming a prominent label in the punk scene and was run out of the Bay Area. In 1991, they reissued Energy by Operation Ivy on CD and they’re also known for being the label where Green Day got their start before launching into the mainstream. In case you can’t tell, I’m a pretty big Green Day fan so excuse me while I try to ease up on talking about them.

My year of birth, also known as 1992, brought the world blink–182 and quite a few NOFX releases. The Ramones are still busting out some music with the release of Mondo Bizzaro and we’ve now had 5 years in a row of Bad Religion releasing new albums (spoiler alert: there will be more to come). No Doubt has finally released their first album and it comes in the form of the oh-so clever self-titled form. Even more bands form as 1993 rolled around, one of the most important ones being Jimmy Eat World, even though they fall under the emo umbrella more than straight up punk. However, the 90s are when we see a spike in emo and pop punk bands, all of which would be lying to you if they don’t claim to have at least some punk influences. This is where we see a big shift and as punk heads more mainstream, it also heads in more of the pop direction. Hence, pop punk is born. Buddha by blink–182 is a prime example of this in 1993.

Well I couldn’t stay away from Green Day for very long, because 1994 brought about the release of Dookie, which is the album that launched the band into the mainstream once and for all. Blink releases Cheshire Cat and Weezer come about to bring us The Blue Album and all of these albums let us know that punk has evolved from what it was in the ’70s and ’80s. But I think it was a necessary change. The genre was booming and the major labels came calling. They all wanted a piece of the action because, quite frankly, I don’t think the suits really understood why this music was just so damn popular. Staples like 924 Gilman Street fostered a community of people who could enjoy punk music in an awesome environment.

The middle of the decade has arrived and that leaves us with five more years to cover before the turn of the century. Believe it or not, Bad Religion is still managing to bust out a release a year and I’ve now lost track of just how many releases the band has. Tragic Kingdom, which would be one of the most popular No Doubt albums, is released. No Doubt wasn’t cranking out the album like other bands, in fact, they don’t even get another release out in the 90s after this one. The Ramones released their final album in 1995 before disbanding the following year, and it’s appropriately titled ¡Adios Amigos!

You know, I always thought that the Dropkick Murphys were a much older band, but they didn’t form until 1996. The Descendents get back together to release Everything Sucks and head out on tour. The Sex Pistols also managed to reunite, but only grace us with a live album and not a new studio album. Which at this point, I’m sure most people were fine with considering how much time had passed. So many bands had formed in ’96 and ’97 so it would be hard to just pick out a few important ones. Emo music had made a strong impression on many music listeners and while the punk scene had been changing, the purpose stayed the same. Bands were building up fan bases like never before and the community was stronger than ever. Sure, some people were upset that bands were “selling out,” but ultimately the bands got the attention they finally deserved. By the 90s, the music industry was a whole different beast Labels were taking bigger risks and signing punk bands to longer contracts (which was good and bad at the time).

Anyway, let’s round this out with 98 and 99. Unwritten Law had been around for a while, but instead of their self-titled being their first album, it didn’t come around until 1998. Dropkick Murphys, The Offspring, The Living End, and Bouncing Souls all released albums. But, one to really focus on is Refused’s The Shape of Punk To Come, which was the final release before they disbanded that same year. There were a few blasts from the past in 1999 with Blondie releasing a new album for the first time in seventeen years and Joe Strummer putting out a solo record. The Clash also received some live album treatment with From Here To Eternity: Live. If you want a good transition album to listen to from the old to the new, Saves The Day’s Through Being Cool is a must listen. Now, I would suggest checking out a lot more releases than what I’ve listed here, so looking up the bands would be your best bet. there were just so many great releases during this time, that it would take a whole book to go through all of them. And well, that wouldn’t be brief now would it?

Check back soon for part three, which will be contribute by Judy Hong of Middle Part.

A Brief History Of Punk Pt. 1

Every current genre of music has its origins and its influences. In this three part feature, we will discuss the brief history of punk music. This first piece will cover its beginnings in the 1970’s and run through 1984. We will throw a lot of key bands and albums at you, so you’ll have plenty of music to revisit or discover.

It’s always difficult to know exactly where to start. Several bands popped up in the ’70s to fuel the punk rebellion. New York and the U.K. became the punk hubs of the world. Rapidly, bands like the Ramones, the Clash, and the Sex Pistols sprung into existence. In New York, a venue known as CBGB became the go to place to see the latest punk bands. Quite ironic for a place that stood for country, bluegrass, and blues, isn’t it? It would be easy to write an entire book about what all went on at CBGB, but then this wouldn’t be a brief history at all.

Let’s back track for a second to protopunk in the 60’s. Bands like The Stooges, MC5, and The Velvet Underground paved the way for punk music. In 1967, we get the classic album art that comes with The Velvet Underground & Nico. Then, in 1969, we get Kick Out The Jams by MC5 and The Stooges’ self-titled album. These albums lead into the early punk era starting in the 70’s. New York Dolls were one of the first punk bands to form in 1971. It takes until 1973 for them to release their first album. “Looking For A Kiss” is just one example of how catchy their songs are on the self-titled album. They then go on to release a second album in 1974, which is when the Ramones, Patti Smith Group, Blondie, and The 101ers form. These groups started what would become an avalanche of new punk bands.

Punk wasn’t just its music, though. It was an entire subculture that started because teens and 20-somethings decided that they had things that needed to be said. Many of these things were anti-establishment and had political motives. DIY was key for the beginning of punk. It was boot-strapped before we were using that term to talk about tech startups. The music was often loud and fast. Many people found it obnoxious but it was the only way these people would be heard. They also needed something to spice up rock music, which had become less rebellious and had a tame feel to it. It was the exact opposite of the hippie culture we had seen in the 60’s.

Before we dig back into the bands and albums that are key to the punk culture, I want to take a moment to discuss the term “poseur” as the spelling would be in the U.K. The term became prominent in the punk subculture. It would be directed at people who participated, but didn’t really understand what being punk meant. Punk was full of values and philosophies despite most people just thinking about the music style when they hear the word “punk. ” If you were a true punk, you were accepted into a huge subculture that spread from the U.K. and Europe to the States. Punk was meant to be real and it was meant to be gritty and anyone who wanted to be a part of it, had to embody all of it.

Back to the music now. We had a major album in 1975 with Horses by Patti Smith. The album includes two songs that are over nine minutes long, which wasn’t a common occurrence in early punk music. So if you’re looking for a punk ballad to check out, “Birdland” would be the song for you. Also in 1975, the Ramones released “Blitzkrieg Bop,” which is a fast-paced song with catchy lyrics that you can still find being used in sports arenas today. Don’t tell me you haven’t yelled “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!” at least once in your life. The Ramones knew how to use those three-chord songs to their advantage and they released a hell of a first single. The Adicts and Sex Pistols are a couple of major punk bands formed in ’75 and then started the insanity of ’76. If I listed all of the bands that formed in ’76, we’d be here for a while. To name a few, though, we have The Clash (after Strummer disbanded The 101ers earlier in the year), Black Flag, The Damned, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Blondie and the Ramones each release their self-titled albums. The Sex Pistols shake the U.K. with “Anarchy In The U.K.” as their first single and they go on tour with the Clash and the Damned. Talk about a rowdy tour lineup.

After a year like ’76, you’d think that maybe things would have calmed down a bit. You’d be wrong. Extremely wrong. In 1977, just as many, if not more, punk bands formed to take the world by storm. Albums are being cranked out like nobody’s business. Wire graces the public with Pink Flag, the Ramones release two albums, the Sex Pistols leave us with their one and only studio album, and The Clash get their self-titled album out. The Misfits, X, and Bad Brains are some big name bands that form. “God Save The Queen” might be the highlight song of the year just because it enraged so many people in England. Although, the band wouldn’t last long because they disbanded the next year. Johnny Rotten ditches the Sex Pistols for Public Image Ltd in 1978 and the year also brought us Dead Kennedys and Social Distortion. Siousxie and the Banshees release their debut album The Scream, while we received releases from a ton of bands. What is possibly my favorite punk album. London Calling, is one for the history books in 1979. Bad Religion, a band that will stick around longer that most, formed along with Agent Orange and The Replacements. There was just no slowing down in the mid-late ’70s for punk music, but I’m going to slow it down here.

I’ve thrown a ton of information at you and we aren’t even to the ’80s just yet. Punk bands came and went almost as quickly as some played their songs, so that leaves a lot to cover. With some bands only having one release, there are also other who have releases in the double digits because they stuck around even though punk music phased in and out over the years. Now, all of the albums I’ll mention in this piece are way older than I am, but I acquired an appreciation of the genre and have read books upon books about punk music. While I may throw out a lot of bands, albums, and songs in this. It’s a brief, but packed, history. Let’s continue on to the 80s now.

Typically when people talk about 80s music, they mean the likes of Tears For Fears, Rick Springfield, and the like. Punk music, however, still pushed it’s way through the decade and started it with a bang. In 1980, The Clash released a triple album on vinyl, Sandinista, and other greats were released like Los Angeles by X, End of the Century by Ramones, and Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by Dead Kennedys. In 1981, a little more happens that will change the LA punk scene. Henry Rollins joined Black Flag and became their lead singer. Epitaph Records opened it’s doors. Social Distortion released their debut single. The 101ers had a compilation album released despite only releasing one single previously and Bad Religion released a self-titled EP. The Vandals and The Pogues are the highlight punk bands that formed in 1982. The Misfits released Walk Among Us and was just one of the albums that stood out in the punk realm. Minor Threat splits up in 1983, as do the Misfits (spoiler alert: they’ll be back). We also see the formation of NOFX and Dead Milkmen.

Now, to wrap it up with 1984, we’ll start with Black Flag. The band had four releases in one year. Yes, you read that right: four. To be fair, one was a live album, but we’l still count it. The Offspring are the notable band that formed that year. And we get the classic album, Let It Be, by The Replacements. Bad Religion hit a rough patch as a band, but as we well know, they’re still around. This is a lot of territory to cover in roughly 1200 words, but these are some important bands and releases of the time. So go take some time to listen to them in all of their likely remastered glory. We’ll be back with part 2 soon to cover 1985–1999.