20 underrated punk albums that should be considered classics
You might have missed some of these.December 28, 2020
Some of your favorite punk bands released (what should be) classic albums that, for whatever reason, superfans and the general public just couldn’t get behind. And sometimes bands you’ve never heard of release an album that would top many “best of” lists had there been a proper push and an ardent buzz behind the record.
Regardless, we present 20 of the most underrated and slept on punk-rock albums of all time.
Against Me! – As The Eternal Cowboy
Fat Wreck Chords proved why they were ahead of the curve by signing the gruff folky Against Me!, one of the least ”Fat”-sounding bands to ever join the label’s roster. The gamble paid off as Against Me!’s second LP, As The Eternal Cowboy, was released in 2003 to some fanfare. But the band’s debut album, Reinventing Axl Rose, got an exponentially higher amount of love. This should be remedied immediately, as all 11 tracks on this record still resonate today with AM! fans near and far.
ALL – Mass Nerder
Not only is this one of the more underrated albums in the punk-rock sphere, but the incredible band are as well. We’ll get to Descendents’ overlooked 2004 effort later, but this section is all about ALL and their frenetic musical masterpiece known as Mass Nerder. What a catchy, poppy and biting gem of a record. If you haven’t heard it yet, join the lack of masses just like you and enjoy the “Perfection.”
Anti-Flag – American Fall
One could argue that all Anti-Flag LPs are underappreciated. But this cohesive punk-rock masterpiece simply didn’t get the attention that it so desperately deserved when it was originally released. The 11 tracks could all be singles, and the production is glossier than most A-F releases, showcasing another melodic side of the band in a glowing manner. We have no idea how this full-length escaped the lexicon of a true “American Attraction,” but we’re forever here for it.
Bad Religion – The Process Of Belief
The band’s classic albums from the late ’80s and early ’90s often overshadow their comeback, which may be their most consistent front-to-back effort. What a way to start this century: Believe it. The Process Of Belief has something for every Bad Religion fan: four songs clocking in at less than two minutes, a ballad called “Sorrow” that still gets radio play and has stood the test of time and a huge, cohesive sound that fills out and enhances every single song.
Bayside – Killing Time
Bayside are a cult, and the cult is filled with many, many loyal superfans. However, Killing Time doesn’t get a third as much love as the band’s first three full-lengths. And that is just ”Sick, Sick, Sick.” Produced by Gil Norton, who also helmed classic records for Foo Fighters, Pixies and Counting Crows, Killing Time is 10 tracks of all killer, no filler. There’s so much more to this incredible four-piece than “Devotion And Desire,” and Bayside’s lone LP with Wind-Up Records proves just that.
Dance Hall Crashers – Lockjaw
Two top-tier vocalists singing in beyond perfect harmony? Check. A counterbalance of ska guitar upstrokes to go with hard-hitting punk-rock rhythms? Check. Fourteen great songs? Check. Why weren’t Dance Hall Crashers one of the biggest bands in the world in the ‘90s, and why wasn’t Lockjaw a multiplatinum mega-success? We will never know, but one thing’s for sure: The world owes the band a debt of gratitude (and several million more streams).
Descendents – Cool To Be You
Four years after ALL put out their swan song LP Problematic, Descendents returned for their first album in eight years, the criminally underrated Cool To Be You. The band returned after a near decade-long sabbatical to do what they did best: deliver razor-sharp punk rock with killer melodies and even better musicianship. Thankfully, they returned 12 years later with another solid LP, Hypercaffium Spazzinate. Here’s to many more.
Fenix TX – Lechuza
Fenix TX’s debut self-titled album can definitely claim to be one of the initial LPs to spark the Drive-Thru Records revolution in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. However, their “harder” sophomore effort, Lechuza, didn’t achieve the great heights of its predecessor. And it ended up being the band’s last full-length. It’s a shame, as the band were coming into their own with this release and maturing their sound for the better.
Gob – Muertos Vivos
Speaking of “harder” albums that the masses overlooked, Gob’s Muertos Vivos was a slight departure from prior Gob releases in the best way ever. Overall, the melodies were angrier, the writing contained more metallic and hardcore influences and the album flow had zero missteps. Check it out if you haven’t done such, and revisit now if you have.
H2O – Thicker Than Water
H2O’s debut self-titled album took both the hardcore and punk worlds by storm, so it’s no surprise that powerhouse label Epitaph Records snagged the band up shortly after its release. Why did Thicker Than Water get so much less attention than its almost-as-good follow-up, F.T.T.W., and its predecessor? The world may never know, but it should always be grateful to H2O for being a gateway band for many kids.
Lagwagon – Double Plaidinum
To put it simply, 1997 was a great year for the world of punk rock and for the plethora of underrated releases. Lagwagon have nine full-lengths under their belt, but none are more overlooked than the cleverly named Double Plaidinum. And that’s not even mentioning the album’s majestic guitar work and sound. Lagwagon shined above most of their peers with their overall musicianship and unparalleled technical proficiencies in the rock universe.
Limp – Pop & Disorderly
Here are some more beautiful and catchy melodies from 1997, one of the most underrated years in punk: Before the Bizkit came Limp, a band sans a DJ and turntables who could rock your fucking face off. Signed to Fat Wreck Chords’ imprint Honest Don’s Records, Limp released three quality full-lengths. They also dropped two solid EPs over the course of eight years before finally calling it quits in 2002. If only they had another band name.
The Living End – MODERN ARTillery
It may contain less swingin’ rockabilly than their prior albums, but MODERN ARTillery truly rocks in all of the right places. In addition, its songs provide a somber hug just when you need a million tissues to wipe away your tears. The Living End released this record to minor radio play and a pretty lukewarm reception among their stateside fans. Someone please notify the United States that this band should be playing arenas here.
The Muffs – Blonder And Blonder
Green Day once said that the Muffs were one of the main reasons why they signed with Reprise Records. Hopefully that endorsement is enough for you to check out their sophomore release, Blonder And Blonder. If it isn’t, Kim Shattuck’s brash vocals and poppy melodies should suffice as a killer enough sales pitch. All of your favorite bands worship the Muffs. And this record combines the best elements of ’60s rock ‘n’ roll with ‘90s angst (complete with guttural screams). We love and miss you, Kim.
Nerf Herder – Nerf Herder
Easily the dorkiest album on this list (or of all time), Nerf Herder created a major-label 10-track self-titled masterpiece that Comic-Con’s crowd would go nuts for. Sadly, it didn’t climb to the heights of the stars, but the band’s negative take on Sammy Hagar from Van Halen almost started a war. Any way you slice it, Nerf Herder were master songwriters and rocked much harder than most bands who “dressed the part.”
No Use For A Name – Hard Rock Bottom
The late vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Tony Sly could sing anything and we’d be overly smitten, but No Use For A Name’s ’90s material gets held in a much more reverential manner than their records that were released this century. The 13 incredible tracks on Hard Rock Bottom showed the band truly hitting their stride sonically. Sadly, the band only had the chance to release two more full-lengths as Sly died in 2012.
Off With Their Heads – Home
You want your blend of punk rock more gruff? Off With Their Heads provide the sweaty beer-soaked punk rock that bearded dudes in flannel shirts and party boys who dig Dropkick Murphys could both get behind. Home captures that late-night vibe perfectly for 12 tracks (and gets referenced in the single “Nightlife”). The band didn’t close shop for Home until the guitar rings out on its last track “Take Me Out.” Fans are still exhausted in the best way seven years after the album’s release.
Shades Apart – Eyewitness
Let’s keep the gruff train rolling even though Eyewitness is the band’s shiniest release. Fans are still here for it, and you should be, too. You may have heard “Stranger By The Day,” the lead single for Shades Apart’s major-label debut Eyewitness, in the blockbuster comedy American Pie. You also may have stumbled upon it on a really cool cutting-edge rock station. Regardless, don’t sleep on the other 11 tracks.
Snuff – Demmamussabebonk
This album is so punk rock that it isn’t on Spotify. Thankfully, YouTube exists (and so does physical mail order), so you can listen to it above. If you like the Business but feel that they need a tad more horns courtesy of a band such as Less Than Jake, then we have the perfect band and album for you. And just try pronouncing the record’s title. Snuff are certainly one of the more underrated bands on Fat Wreck Chords, and that’s a bold statement as this list contains many Fat releases.
Tilt – ‘Til It Kills
Speaking of Fat, we’re ending this piece with another underrated Fat Wreck Chords album: ‘Til It Kills. Overall, Tilt need more global love, and this album is quite possibly their grandest statement. You’ll be hooked from the moment you hear the bassline that kick-starts opening track “Libel,” and you’ll be a lifer once you hear Cinder Block’s distinct, hard-hitting vocals. And the bridge’s vocal melody still kills.