Meet Me @ The Altar, Young Culture, MAKEOUT, Ghost Town Remedy
[Photos via: Meet Me @ The Altar/Lindsey Byrnes, Young Culture/YouTube, MAKEOUT/YouTube, Ghost Town Remedy/YouTube]

The list of young, talented pop-punk bands in America seems without end. From luxurious Los Angeles to the gorgeous hills of West Virginia, up-and-comers jam in pubs and clubs. They’re grinding on social media and releasing new music with that nostalgic pop-punk sound upgraded to fit the 2020s. 

They need your ears to flourish. Especially in gig-less corona times, downloads and streams are the valued currency. But we aren’t here to solicit pity listens. These groups are just as gifted as their legendary punk ancestors.

Read more: QUIZ: Which iconic pop-punk album are you most like?

So here are young (one album or less) pop-punk bands from every state for you to make your new favorite. 

Alabama – Hopes On Hold

The Auburn natives made noise with their anthemic 2017 track Indonesia Better Be Worth It,” which reverberated on pop-punk playlists for a good minute. Their new single “If You Die In Canada, Do You Die In Real Life” feels just as big. But it shows a smoother, reflective growth in these young musicians. If you like soaring guitar riffs and goosebump-inducing gang vocals, this band are for you.

Alaska – Granddad

The Fairbanks natives carry the torch that emo-punkers before them passed down. Formed by Kellen Baker, who grew up gay in Alaska, one of Granddad’s goals is to create a platform of expression for others and be the type of band that Baker wanted to have as a teen. Their subdued yet edgy emo-punk is why Granddad are the kind of group pop punk should open up to

Arizona – FigureItOut

If your 90-something grandmother gingerly pulls you close to ask “What is pop punk?,” rip out her hearing aids, stuff in some earbuds and crank up FigureItOut. Once a full band, FigureItOut is now the sole project of Mike Weakley, with elements of genre classics infused with more contemporary standouts. No one better blends the sounds of pop punk’s growing history. After years of releasing singles, FigureItOut just dropped their first album, Searching For More, and it’s so damn good. 

Arkansas – Go For Gold

Go For Gold excel on both ends of the spectrum. The band supercharge circle pits with abusive tracks such as their single “Let Me Go.” Or they slow down the dance floor with their popular acoustic tune “In The End.” It takes a special band to succeed at both styles, but Go For Gold are up for the task. 

California – Sleep It Off

Obviously, there are loads of talented, young California pop-punkers. Sleep It Off stand out for their soaring sound, smart lyrics and throwback vocals. With only a few releases under their belt, the band appear to be just beginning their march to greatness. Don’t sleep on Sleep It Off. 

Colorado – One Flew West

Their 2017 single Trial And Error put them on the map with its super catchy verses and poppy chorus. Stylistically, the band lean more poppy than punk, resembling outfits such as With Confidence. The musicianship and production of their tracks are on point. The momentum builds as One Flew West gain radio airtime in Colorado. 

Connecticut – Always Grounded

One of the freshest faces in the scene, the central Connecticut crew aren’t afraid to take on the legends. Their covers of Machine Gun Kelly’s “concert for aliens” and blink-182’s “Feeling This” are admirable. But Always Grounded’s new track “Caffeine Haze” is loads of fun, with an ultra-catchy chorus worthy of repeat listens. Play with Spotify’s algorithm by giving the song a like. 

Delaware – Feet First

Feet First’s handful of streamable tracks are seamlessly produced, well written and feature easy-to-listen-to vocals just unique enough to really stand out. The Wilmington natives share a community with President-elect Joe Biden. If his administration is looking for local bands to play at his inauguration, our vote is for Feet First. #BuildBackPopPunk

Florida – Television Supervision

The talented Tampa natives blend elements of pop punk and pop-rock while sprinkling in bits of metal and stadium rock. They really check all the boxes. Television Supervision are tough to pigeonhole but easy to listen to given their catchy lyrics and constant energy. A couple of tracks on their new album, Waldo, to check out; Gimme A Girl oozes Green Day American Idiot-era vibes, while Volcano showcases the band’s versatility. You’ll be hooked after those two songs. Promise. 

Georgia – Meet Me @ The Altar 

This trio met on the internet, with one member from Georgia. So we cheated a tad here, but Meet Me @ The Altar needed to be on the list. “Garden,” their newest single, is on the shortlist for the year’s best pop-punk track. Apart from their talent, they add a valuable dose of diversity to the scene with three women of color. 

Hawaii – Strangers With Kandy

Strangers With Kandy are what you would expect Hawaiian punk rockers to sound like. It’s chilled punk, like the Misfits after drinking three pina coladas. The blend of punky riffs and cool vibes is apparent in tracks such as “I Wanna Be Baby” or “Wasabi Slam.” Next time you’re in Honolulu, see if Strangers With Kandy have a show. You won’t be disappointed.  

Idaho – Forever Cliché

The Boise natives only have two original tracks in their discography for now. Guys, we need more. Forever Cliché rock chunky, New Found Glory-like guitar riffs but with vocals much softer than the delightfully piercing pipes of Jordan Pundik. Their lyrics are introspective, more sober than whimsical. Lovers of early 2000s pop punk will dig Forever Cliché. 

Illinois – Wilmette

It feels like Wilmette are one good tour away from blowing up. Unfortunately, the pandemic temporarily tripped up the band’s fast-gaining momentum. The Chicago natives compare with their Windy City counterparts. They are cut from the same cloth as Knuckle Puck and Belmont, likely soon experiencing that level of success. 

Indiana – The Region

The Region are a three-piece, including a pair of brothers, in the Northwest Indiana suburbs of Chicago. Their 2019 EP, Everything I’ve Got, is guitar heavy and a lyrical nod to the emo greats of yesteryear. For those suffering from emo withdrawal, here’s your antidote. 

Iowa – Eugene Levy

Talk about great timing. The Eastern Iowa natives named the band after one of Hollywood’s hottest names. Eugene Levy (not the comedian) hark back to the glory days of pop punk. Yet, the touch of genre modernism is certainly noticeable. Their newest single I’m Like Mankind in the Way That I Never Said, ‘I Quit’ is their best work to date. Big things are in Eugene Levy’s future as the band ready for a handful of releases in 2021. Eugene Levy (the comedian) should be proud. 

Kansas – Westbound Sign

Named after a Green Day song, the Lawrence natives clearly draw inspiration from the pop-punk gods. “Degenerate Minds” from their 2019 EP Dog Daze could fit on Dookie or Kerplunk!. And while few bands do Green Day justice, Westbound Sign find a way to make it work. 

Kentucky – Next Attempt

Next Attempt’s 2019 album, Red Flags, surprised the scene. Who would have thought the best easycore album of 2019 would come from the Bluegrass State? For those into comparisons, You’re Wrong & I’m Drunk feels like Motion City Soundtrack if Motion City Soundtrack added metallic breakdowns while doubling the tempo. “My Friend Chris” might be too dangerous to play live. A song like this could whip up the world’s deadliest circle pit. Speaking of which, somebody big please scoop up Next Attempt on a nationwide tour. They’re ready. 

Louisiana – Hey Thanks!

The five-piece from Houma, Louisiana, perform like ’80s emo pioneers in Washington, D.C. basements. Their energy is different than anything else. Their shows feel more like family gatherings than small concerts. And their bouncy rhythms are reminiscent of early 2000s pop punk, electrifying clubs. It will be fun to watch this band grow.

Maine – The Banner Year

This throwback pop-punk band from Bangor are loads of fun complete with power chords and the nasally vocals we all love. It’s risk-taking and in your face. Their new single “Art Thou Feeling It Now!?” seems to reference SpongeBob SquarePants? Either way, it’s a great track. Here’s to hoping the Banner Year have just that in 2021. 

Maryland – Crosswinds

Crosswinds teeter between throwback pop punk and hardcore with the musicianship to excel at both. The Maryland outfit also write well to both genres and will attract more ears as they route their creative course. Readers of this would latch onto their catchy track 19th & Reed.” From the land of All Time Low and Good Charlotte, Crosswinds are a crew to keep an eye on. 

Massachusetts – Color Killer

The youngest band to ever play at Warped Tour probably needed their parents to drive them there in 2018. They’re still raw, but Color Killer have a serious pop-punk spirit. If they keep on their trajectory, great things are in their future. 

Michigan – Last Night Saved My Life

Last Night Saved My Life build on the State Champs’ success formula with comparable musicianship. Waterfall (which actually features Derek DiScanio) from the 2019 album, Cherry, made noise on streaming platforms. Their newest song “Caffeine Company” reflects major progress. The band were booked to play at the Excellency Music Festival with other notable Michigan risers (Forest Green, Gold Route) before, well, you know. The year that shall not be named. 

Minnesota – A Better Hand

A Better Hands edge isn’t excessive but certainly present. Their rhythm is high tempo but not rushed. Their lyrics are genuine but not too sappy. The vocals are very 2020 pop punk. A Better Hand effortlessly fit in with the genre’s flag bearers. 

Mississippi – Flying Raccoon Suit

Representing the ska world, we have Mississippi’s Flying Raccoon Suit. They need to be recognized for, among many things, their excellent quarantine sessions videos. While the rest of us binged Netflix shows about chess and crazy tiger owners, Flying Raccoon Suit stripped down their tracks to keep us entertained during these bleak times. For that, we salute them. 

Missouri – Old State

Missouri natives Old State go hard with gravelly vocals, heavy guitar work and a breakneck pace. It’s the heaviest work from the Story So Far made into a band. Tough to tell where this band are at in terms of their status. But definitely worth adding to the playlist. 

Montana – The Varsity

We’ll keep it 100. There aren’t a lot of young pop-punk bands in Montana. So this was tough, but the Varsity (formerly Kid Named King) make great music. Honestly, it was hard to find their work on the internet. But the guys seem like a lot fun from their social media posts. Speaking of social media, the Varsity have 29 Facebook followers. If you’re reading this, give them a quick like. 

Nebraska – Everbloom

Contemporary pop punk at its finest, Everbloom hold no punches. The Omaha native  reflect growth with each new track. Thought Out is their latest single, and man, it just doesn’t let up. Well written and well produced, it kicks from the opening riff. Check it out and ready yourself for Everbloom’s first album, whenever it may be released. 

Nevada – Tonight We Fight

Las Vegas natives Tonight We Fight made their return in 2020 with a new song titled “Cold” following four years of sparse activity. Since their 2015 album, Progress, they’ve been a hot gig for punkers in Sin City. We’re excited the band are adding new music to their setlist. 

New Hampshire – Bad Sandy

Bad Sandy are an uber bubbly power-pop band from New Hampshire. Their recently dropped self-titled EP is super ear wormy and probably loads of fun to watch live. Bad Sandy blend ’80s and ’90s pop-rock with upbeat, punky rhythm. They’re really one of those bands you have to check out to understand.

New Jersey – Northvale

Hailing from a serious scene hotspot, Northvale booked Joey Fleming (In Her Own Words) and AJ Perdomo (The Dangerous Summer) to join them on their maiden EP It paid off. Their September release, The Things We Used To Be, was pop punk’s unsung gem of 2020. Think Valencia with more edge. Northvale deserve whatever success is about to come their way. 

New Mexico – Right On, Kid

Formed in the summer of 2015, this Albuquerque crew have collabed with Knuckle Puck bassist Ryan Rumchaks (“Tracer”). Their 2018 EP, Forever Missing Out, gained them well-deserved attention. Subsequent releases on Manic Kat Records continued to earn them expanding crowds when shows were a still thing. Right On, Kid have done the grunt work. They’ve grinded in the New Mexico heat for nearly half a decade. It’s time for a bigger spotlight. 

New York Young Culture

The pop-punk community is buzzing over Young Culture’s recently released self-titled debut album. It dropped almost two years after the premiere of their popular track 21 Days.” Point being, people are taking notice. Stylistically, Young Culture blend uber-poppy guitar work (think the 1975) and the typical chunky stuff common today. It’s like smooth and chunky peanut butter on the same sandwich. And Alex Magnan’s vocals are sweet like jelly.

North Carolina – The Second After 

If the Second After can just catch their big break (or maybe drop an album), they might be the 2020s version of Neck Deep. They have that sound with singles that all kick, but they vary just enough stylistically. Maybe it’s a vocal distortion here or a pace change there. The next couple of years will be crucial for this crew. Please, lend them your ears. 

North Dakota – Brooklane

Brooklane are the kind of band you hear for the first time and immediately recommend to a friend. They are the perfect pop-punk unit in 2020. North Dakota, Brooklane are a gem. Nurture them. Treasure them. Make them huge. 

Ohio – Jetty Bones

In the pop-punk rich state of Ohio (really, the scene is strong here), Jetty Bones is a blossoming commodity. The alternative-pop singer from a town of 11,000 people possesses perfect pipes that sound a pinch like Alanis Morissette but really are uniquely her own. Jetty Bones resembles a softer Paramore, with some tracks punkier than others. Most of the names on this list are bands. We made an exception for Jetty Bones. 

Oklahoma – Goodfella

The Sooner State natives are pedal to the metal, no slowdown pop punk. Hopefully you buckle in before hitting the play button. And get ready for the feels. Goodfella excel lyrically, with their newest track “Shutter Island” being a major standout. There’s a nice range of old-school to new-school sound here. A little something for everyone. 

Oregon –  All Hype

Playing in Portland, All Hype brandish melodic pop-punk riffs coupled with heavy breakdowns. It’s like a sanded down version of Sum 41 or Alkaline Trio. All Hype’s resume is impressive, recently opening for Bayside with experience playing alongside Neck Deep and Teenage Bottlerocket. But don’t rely on the CV. Invite All Hype in for an interview via Spotify. Give them a listen. 

Pennsylvania – Goalkeeper

You could pick about a dozen great up-and-coming pop-punk bands from Pennsylvania for this list. But Goalkeeper stand out for their polish, honest songwriting and the comfy vocals of Ryan Beebe. Once jokingly called the Pizzas, the trio are blossoming into one of the genre’s promising new bands. Their five-track EP, Life In Slow Motion, is a 2020 pop-punk highlight. 

Rhode Island – Makeout

You probably recognize Makeout from their infectious 2017 track “Crazy.” It took pop-punk playlists by siege, helping the band’s debut album, The Good Life, approach 15 million streams on Spotify. If you’re unfamiliar, imagine what 3OH!3 would sound like if they went full pop punk. The Providence natives haven’t made a ton of noise since touring on Warped Tour during its send-off summer. But their newest single “Home” reflects a direction pop-punk fans will surely love. Start the countdown to Makeout’s anticipated sophomore album. 

South Carolina – Aim High

Aim High have the pop-punk “it” factor. Stylistically, they resemble bands such as the Story So Far and Hot Mulligan. But there’s definitely something unique to their sound, like if Taking Back Sunday restarted as a contemporary pop-punk band. Their new song is a Belmont collab called “Gender Neutral Happy Meal.” The name alone is worth the stream. Keep Aim High on your radar. 

South Dakota – Work Of Wolves

Aptly named, Work Of Wolves might be more of a traditional rock group than pop punk. But their ethos reflects that of a band who belong in the scene. Any time we have an excuse to highlight talent, we’ll bend the rules a bit to get it done. 

Tennessee – Ghost Town Remedy

Ghost Town Remedy excel in Nashville’s land of live music. They’re the city’s pioneers of “rad dad rock.” They don’t take themselves too seriously, but they shred and jam in a way that draws serious attention. Their excellent first full-length, Dry Spell, is perfect for broken hearts on a lonely holiday. 

Texas – Burning Years

The gradual rise of Burning Years is beginning to turn heads. They borrow elements from pop punk and hardcore, offering something for everyone. The crew have been composing music since 2014, but they’ve only put out a handful of releases. We guess you could call it a “slow burn,” so we hope they catch serious flames. 

Utah – Wicked Bears

The name is perfect. Wicked Bears just sound like a band jamming with WSTR at a club in Austin or opening for the Wonder Years in Philadelphia. Their throwback style is super endearing. The goofy lyrics, guitar work and vocals sound like pop punk from the mid-’90s. And they’re good. Wicked good. 

Vermont – The Silent Mile

New to the scene, Burlington’s the Silent Mile released their first music hardly a year ago. But their cannon already features diversity, between heavier tracks such as “The World Was Ours” and the more atmospheric “Set Me Free.” The Silent Mile draw inspiration from the Early November, American Football and the like. You can definitely hear it. 

Virginia – Drop The Girl

Every Warped Tour, there’s one band who absolutely own the small stage. In some alternative universe, Warped Tour toured in 2020. And in that alternative universe, Drop The Girl owned the small stage. Their music plays perfectly live. Give a listen to their new EP, Happy Again., and you’ll see what we mean.

Washington – College Radio

College Radio sound like Wheatus, but they’re not as uncomfortably sharp and much catchier. Their recent EP released on Third String Records, I Used To Get Messed Up, is excellent. “Untitled” deserves a spot on your winter playlist. 

West Virginia – Stage Moms

We’ve traversed the hills of West Virginia to bring you Stage Moms. First, they’re from Moundsville. Second, their new track “Sophomore Slump” gives off major Knuckle Puck vibes, but it’s a bit more gleeful. The keyboard brightens the tune. It’s a bit of a redirection from Stage Moms’ punkier past. But it works. We’re excited to see what this band do next. 

Wisconsin – Gold Steps

Likely named after the popular Neck Deep track, the Milwaukee natives appear ready to break out. The band’s sound soars on tightly produced tracks highlighted by excellent musicianship at every level. 2018 was huge year for Gold Steps as the band performed at Milwaukee’s Summerfest while dropping a slew of stellar songs. Let’s all drink 2020 from our memories and get amped for a breakout 2021 for Gold Steps

Wyoming – System Restore

The Wyoming natives are the punkiest of the listed bands. They need to be noted for their timely song “Wash Your Hands” released earlier this year. Quite simply, it may be the most important 98 seconds of music released in 2020. Had the entire world listened to the wise sages of System Restore, how many cases of coronavirus could have been prevented?