12 essential punk and emo albums turning 20 in 2019
Spawning monumental releases from influential bands such as the Get Up Kids, Saves The Day and of course, blink-182, it’s no doubt that 1999 changed the landscape for punk and emo forever. 1999 was a tremendous year of transition that not only pushed the genre to the mainstream, but also kept it fresh and dynamic for rising bands to come.
And it’s been 20 years since. Here are 12 essential albums by your favorite punk and emo bands.
1. AFI – Black Sails In The Sunset
RELEASE DATE: May 18, 1999
Believe it or not, AFI have been thriving in the underground punk scene for more than a decade before their breakout with “Miss Murder.” Black Sails In The Sunset, which would later influence many rising bands, explored punk wholly and in complex ways, incorporating heavy and light aspects of the genre to shape what it has become today.
2. American Football – American Football
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 14, 1999
It’s an obligation for every emo romantic to make their pilgrimage to the American Football house for a reason. As the leading forefathers of Midwest emo, American Football guided the genre with twinkly, math-rock riffs and melancholy lyrics that any suburban teenager can relate to. Needless to say, American Football is a quintessential record among the scene, achieving cult status years after with its iconic appeal
3. The Ataris – Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exits
RELEASE DATE: April 13, 1999
The Ataris’ cover of “The Boys Of Summer” is a familiar go-to for most people, but Blue Skies, Broken Hearts...Next 12 Exits was what took the band to new heights. Leaning more toward hook-oriented skate punk, this forgotten classic is fast, loud and emotive—the perfect soundtrack for any angsty ’90s teen at the skatepark.
4. blink-182 – Enema Of The State
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 1999
It’s obvious that pop punk in the late ’90s/early 2000s wouldn’t have taken off without blink-182’s Enema Of The State. A genre-defining record and a modern classic, this album lit the fuse and blew the genre with an unimaginable blast radius. With effortless synergy, the trio opened a massive can of earworms that commercialized the genre, flaunting their talent with onstage shenanigans and eventually taking the world by storm.
5. Fenix*TX – Fenix*TX
RELEASE DATE: July 13, 1999
After changing their name to Fenix*TX from Riverfenix, the Houston skate punkers rerecorded a majority of their songs from their original Riverfenix self-titled. With a few new tracks added to the mix, the high-octane energy of Fenix*TX carries listeners at intense speeds but also stays true to punk, touching on politics and rebellion. All wrapped up in fast riffing and sunny power chords, this album is an underrated gem.
6. The Get Up Kids – Something To Write Home About
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 21, 1999
After the Get Up Kids’ Four Minute Mile garnered attention in 1997, the band sprung right back with an ambitious follow-up that pushed emo-pop to the frontlines. As the soaring vocals and crestfallen lyrics smooth the edges, Nothing To Write Home About bridged the gap between the raw and melodic with just enough grit to retain its emotional intensity. Without a doubt, this album is a classic to many pop-punk/emo bands who followed.
7. Hot Water Music – No Division
RELEASE DATE: Aug. 10, 1999
Integrating a wide range of influences from hardcore punk to emo, Hot Water Music’s No Division is a gut-wrenching roller coaster of love, hate and grief, all captured in an aggressive 30 minutes. With anthemic chants and an abrasive, “in-your-face” attitude, the band showed us just how versatile the genre can be.
8. Jimmy Eat World – Clarity
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 23, 1999
Often overshadowed by Bleed American, Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity is a second-wave emo masterpiece that deserves more recognition. In their third full-length effort, the quartet embraced their talents by refining their alt-rock sentiments to gravitate toward a more dynamic direction. With bands such as Something Corporate and the Wonder Years referencing this album in their songs, Clarity definitely earned its place as one of the most important albums in emo history.
9. New Found Glory – Nothing Gold Can Stay
RELEASE DATE: March 18, 1999
Released when the band were still called “A New Found Glory,” Nothing Gold Can Stay laid the blueprint for catchy, hook-centered punk which they perfected in their following albums. Focusing on polished melodies and taking their harmonies to the next level, the album spawned a handful of jams including the original, iconic “Hit Or Miss.”
10. Saves the Day – Through Being Cool
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 2, 1999
With an album cover that fully encapsulates the struggles of every awkward misfit at a party, Saves The Day’s sophomore effort, Through Being Cool, raised the bar for both pop punk and emo songwriting. While they abandoned their melodic hardcore roots, the album’s still sonically diverse, maintaining the perfect balance between aggression and composure as Chris Conley’s brutally honest lyrics cut through the mix.
11. Lit – A Place In The Sun
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 23, 1999
Fan or not, you’ve heard “My Own Worst Enemy” a thousand times. But Lit have more to offer than just a pop-punk one-hit wonder from their sophomore release, A Place In The Sun. With wide choruses and memorable singalongs, this album directed the genre to the right direction, pushing it into the mainstream with accessible, radio-rock elements.
12. Pennywise – Straight Ahead
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 1999
Pissed off and passionate, Pennywise aren’t messing around in Straight Ahead. Making headway through angst and resentment with callous riffs and heavy drums, this album refueled punk rock just when it was on the brink of passing out. With hard-hitting tracks and contagious harmonies, Straight Ahead remains to be one of the most sincere releases in their catalog.
Let us know in the comments which albums are your favorites!
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