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The 100 Best Pop Punk Bands

on June 05, 2019, 12:00pm
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90. Lemuria

Lemuria2

Buffalo, New York’s Lemuria is a pop punk band that blurs the line of indie rock, with front person Sheena Ozzella’s gentle, sugary vocals and drummer Alex Kerns’ dry harmonies as comfortable on bouncy, straight-ahead rock songs as they are in moodier waters. The band’s rise more firmly plants their pop punk roots; Paramore’s Haley Williams helped the trio connect with Bridge 9 records to release their second and third albums. With only three albums and a collection of early releases over the course of 12 years, Lemuria are just as comfortable sharing bills with The Queers as they are with The Thermals, prime examples of a genre that’s shed its Warped Tour skate punk reputation over the last decade. –Philip Cosores

Essential Track: “Chihuly”

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89. Mixtapes

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As of three years ago, Cincinnati, Ohio, band Mixtapes were still playing Warped Tour and seemingly destined for greatness. Vocalists/guitarists Maura Weaver and Ryan Rockwell had an undeniable charisma, and their bandmates, Paul Kupper and Boone Haley, didn’t seem to have any trouble keeping up. After three albums, including 2010’s Maps and 2013’s Ordinary Silence, the group called it quits, although it’s not clear whether or not that’s a permanent thing. –Kyle Eustice

Essential Track: “I Accept That”

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88. Martha

Martha

Sometimes the places that need pop punk most are the areas where suburbia has yet to take over. DIY four-piece Martha formed in a tiny village of 6,000 people called Pity Me (Yes, really) in northeast England. Though their self-descriptions sound more in line with a hardcore lifestyle (“Vegan, straight edge, and anarchist”), they churn out the spirit of Weezer and Radiator Hospital, honing their sound into the type of hooks that wiggle their way into your brain. Sure, they may only have two albums out, but Martha know how to make songs like “Present, Tense” and “Dust, Juice, Bones and Hair” ring with their own style while tempting you to pick up a guitar and figure out the tabs. The non-American accents help, too. –Nina Corcoran

Essential Track: “Dust, Juice, Bones and Hair”

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87. Weston

Weston

Before Beach Slang’s James Alex Snyder became a dad and started writing the kind of lyrics that teenagers rush to get tattooed on their bodies, he played guitar in a little band from Bethlehem, PA, called Weston. With sing-along lyrics like, “You are so retarded/ I must be retarded too,” this is about as far from poetry as punk can get, but you’d be [insert politically correct term for retarded] to discount Weston as pop-punk also-rans. Their first album for Go Kart Records, 1996’s Got Beat Up, is a genuine overlooked classic of the genre and a perfect artifact for explaining how pop-punk went from Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy to Saves the Day’s Through Being Cool in a matter of five years. –Collin Brennan

Essential Track: “Retarded”

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86. Armchair Martian

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They hail from Colorado, not Minnesota, but Armchair Martian make a case for what Hüsker Dü may have gone on to sound like if Bob Mould never embarked on a solo career. In other words, their 1997 self-titled album could have been the Hüskers’ own version of Pleased to Meet Me — the can-opener guitars and rich vocals making the listener ask why these guys never made it onto the radio when Social Distortion did. Anyway, that’s one too many reference points for an act that’s in a class all their own, so just ignore the alienating band name and listen to these guys. –Dan Caffrey

Essential Track: “Crestfallen”

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85. Monsula

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Green Day may have blossomed into one of the biggest rock bands in the world, but the East Bay scene sprouted more than a few pop punk bands that never made waves in the mainstream. Monsula were staples at 924 Gilman Street in the mid-’90s heyday of Lookout! Records, but their sound was a little too rough around the edges (and eventually a little too indebted to Fugazi) to garner much attention beyond the West Coast. Still, the band’s Nickel 7-inch has become a bona fide collector’s item among pop punk diehards thanks to the sloppy, brokenhearted bliss of songs like “Razors” and “Firecracker”. –Collin Brennan

Essential Track: “Razors”

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84. Sugarcult

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Sometimes the name really does say it all. Infinitely more pop than punk, Santa Barbara’s Sugarcult come across like the living, breathing, bouncing-off-the-walls embodiment of Jolt Cola. Few bands on this list sound more tailor-made for the Warped Tour stage, a fact that goes a long way in explaining Sugarcult’s biggest strength (they knew exactly what they were) and their fatal flaw (they lacked the distinctiveness of a Green Day or a Blink-182). Though they’ll probably remain a footnote in the greater history of pop punk, Sugarcult did everything they could to bring the genre closer to the mainstream. A case in point: The video for “Bouncing off the Walls”, which features Van Wilder star and future A-lister Ryan Reynolds (and Tara Reid, too!). –Collin Brennan

Essential Track: “Bouncing Off the Walls”

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83. Dear Landlord

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While No Idea Records doesn’t have the same presence in the punk scene as it did in the late ’90s and early 2000s, bands like Dear Landlord are a reminder why the small Florida-based label is still important. From the glass-gargling vocals to the economic guitar solos, the Midwestern quartet recalls older No Idea acts like Gunmoll, albeit with a higher currency on melody. They’ve only released one full-length thus far — 2009’s Heartbroken Handshakes — so hopefully their success won’t be as short-lived as some of their forefathers. –Dan Caffrey

Essential Track: “I Live in Hell”

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82. Midtown

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Midtown felt phony. They cast themselves as emotive, cash-strapped artistes, but frontman Gabe Saporta was a Rutgers alum with well-documented business acumen, a quality that manifested when the band scored a cheesy intro video for the Real World Road Rules Challenge and took full advantage of its romantic proximity to a Real World cast member for screen time. There’s also Cobra Starship, the pandering cash machine he formed after Midtown. Set all that aside, though, and you’re still left with some pretty slick tunes. Their 2000 debut, Save the World Lose the Girl, opens with not only Midtown’s best songs, but also one of the best of that era: “Just Rock and Roll”, an infectious and meticulously crafted slice of teen angst. Their follow-ups weren’t half-bad, either, so long as you’re cool with listening to radio pop cloaked in punk’s clothing. I sure am. –Randall Colburn

Essential Track: “Just Rock and Roll”

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81. Banner Pilot

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Of all the various subgenres that make up punk rock, pop punk seems the least interested in exploring the wide world beyond the status quo. Bands such as Minneapolis’ Banner Pilot show why this isn’t always such a bad thing. Hopelessly (some might say shamelessly) indebted to bands such as Jawbreaker, Dillinger Four, and The Lawrence Arms, these Midwestern beard punk acolytes have never tried to rewrite the book. Instead, they’re content to translate it into a slightly poppier text. Early EP Pass the Poison (2006) is a true ripper, but the band really rounded into form with 2009’s Collapser and the gruff melodies of songs like “Skeleton Key” and “Central Standard”. –Collin Brennan

Essential Track: “Skeleton Key”

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