The 2010s started with the release of the iPhone 4 and ended with the election of Donald Trump, who one-downed nearly every single global calamity daily with 280 characters on Twitter. On the mainstream music front, one could argue that the 2010s was the birthplace to the second British invasion, with acts such as Adele, Ed Sheeran and One Direction dominating the charts.
While alternative wasn’t as visible this decade as the prior two, many other incredible acts released albums and tracks that fell under the global radar. Here’s 19 of ’em.
Captain, We’re Sinking
Let’s start this with the scariest thing that a ship crewmate could say to his or her superior: Captain, We’re Sinking. Scranton, Pennsylvania, may get a lot of fame for being the birthplace of Joe Biden and the home base of The Office, but CWS deserve much more love than they received during their 12-year tenure as a band. Fans of the Hotelier, Saves The Day and the Menzingers (Fun fact: Vocalist Bobby Barnett’s brother Greg Barnett is one of two singers for the Menzingers) will flip their shit for Captain, We’re Sinking’s emotional and powerful discography.
Chiodos (with Brandon Bolmer)
While singer/screamer Craig Owens left some huge shoes to fill upon exiting post-hardcore powerhouse band Chiodos, new vocalist Brandon Bolmer (formerly of Yesterdays Rising, another underrated act to check out) should have been given more than one album to show his worth. Real talk: Illuminaudio is Chiodos’ most dynamic, catchy and sonically gorgeous record and would have been far more successful had it been their debut release.
The Color Morale
If hype automatically equated to record sales, then the Color Morale may still be around today. Falling under the radar for three powerful Rise Records releases, they seemed universally poised for scene king crowns upon their move to Fearless Records, but it never happened. They just plateaued and broke up after two more albums. It’s a damn shame because TCM’s sincerity stood out among the many bro metalcore outfits who they shared the stage with.
Yet another band who never rose to the heights of their hype. It seems that everyone was on the Conditions train in the early 2010s, so it’s confusing as to why they never rose to main stage status on Warped Tour. Fans of Hands Like Houses, Sleeping With Sirens (Conditions guitarist Alex Howard later joined SWS as their live guitarist in 2014 just after Conditions officially broke up) and I The Mighty would freak out over Conditions’ discography. Maybe they were ahead of their time? Maybe they needed another label? Regardless, our understanding of the world feels broken.
Until recently, the world never thought that both Creeper and My Chemical Romance would co-exist together as active bands in this universe. But unless you’ve been living under a very heavy rock, MCR are back as a full-time act and are bigger than ever. Hopefully their forward momentum can expand Creeper’s reach beyond the United Kingdom, as their punk-fueled goth tunes deserve at least a few million more fans.
The first YouTube comment on the above video reads, “This band is underrated.” We agree. You may not know any Dangerkids tunes per se, but you’ve certainly heard vocalist Tyler Smyth’s songwriting and production with scene favorites I Prevail, Lights and blessthefall. Still, Dangerkids, the Midwest’s polite answer to Linkin Park, deserve your time and attention as well. Strong melodies and stronger production make these kids more dangerous than most of the youth gone wild.
Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows
Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (aka D.R.U.G.S.) formed as a screamo supergroup featuring members of Chiodos, Story Of The Year, From First To Last, Matchbook Romance and Underminded to release a scene classic before breaking up very shortly after. Real talk: Their debut self-titled record is Owens’ finest hour lyrically, vocally and musically. Happily, D.R.U.G.S. released their first single in almost a decade this past March with hopes to do even more after the pandemic.
An actual metalcore supergroup exist? Yep. How’s that for a loud oxymoron? Various members of Atreyu, Scars Of Tomorrow and Hotwire formed together last decade in Southern California to make post hardcore’s answer to desert rock a la Queens Of The Stone Age. Singer Jonah Matranga of the oft-overlooked ’90s act Far even snagged a guest spot on the blistering title track to their 2019 EP, We Are The Dead.
Hyro The Hero
If you went to Rockstar Disrupt Festival last year to catch the Used, Sum 41, Thrice or any other of the many amazing acts and showed up slightly after doors opened up, shame on you: You likely missed a fantastic rap-rock act called Hyro The Hero. You know that band who other groups flock to so they can watch from the side of the stage? That’s Hyro. He’s been in the game since 2007 and recently found a new home with Eleven Seven Music for his upcoming music.
I Fight Dragons
If you ever wondered what it would be like if OK Go merged with a Game Boy to create undeniably catchy dork rock, check out Chicago’s I Fight Dragons as quickly as you can. They released two chiptune EPs and a full-length via Atlantic subsidiary Photo Finish Records and proved that they had an ardent fanbase with two successfully crowdfunded self-released LPs after they left the major-label world. Welcome to the breakdown.
Perhaps the most underrated addition to this list, Michigan two-piece IAMDYNAMITE pack more of a punch than every screamo group with two vocalists and five other members… And what a diverse sound! Sometimes they emulate the epic grandeur of the Police, sometimes their songs are more in the vein of power-pop giants Weezer and sometimes they sound like no other band on the planet. Whatever your preferred flavor of Faygo is, IAMDYNAMITE have something tasty for you.
If the pandemic is keeping you down, put on your headphones and blast some Just Friends, and you’ll be partying by your lonesome by the end of the song. They blend every genre under the sun in a funky and fresh fashion and certainly stood out in the best way ever at last year’s Sad Summer Fest before such acts as Mayday Parade, State Champs and the Maine. Pure Noise Records hit the jackpot with this act.
Almost mainstream rock from Minneapolis, Minnesota? Yep. Like we mentioned with I Fight Dragons, Photo Finish had a hot streak for finding talent this century, and New Medicine’s blend of smugness and hard-as-fuck rock may make the band the unsung hero for the label. Despite tours with Avenged Sevenfold, Hollywood Undead and Evanescence, they only had one album on the major label and later put out an LP that was more than major label-worthy.
Fans of Death Cab For Cutie, Jimmy Eat World and grandiose, lush symphonies should have flocked to all of the record stores in droves to pick up Dear Me, OWEL’s debut Equal Vision Records full-length, upon its 2016 release. But they didn’t. Obviously, they never had a chance to see them live. If you ever do after this pandemic ends, don’t pass it up. What a powerful and dynamic show. No one sounds like OWEL, and no one ever will.
Featuring the former guitarist for Portugal. The Man and the engineer for a couple Thirty Seconds To Mars records, the indescribable PARTYBABY have hit the road with Potty Mouthand Wavves, among others. They put out an EP and LP for Warner Records and then went black for about four years. Thankfully, they released a new single, “Heaven,” a few months ago.
Although Silverstein have their fair share of mellow and chill songs, River Oaks feels like the auditory actualization of singer Shane Told’s musical vision, making it a true-to-form solo acoustic project. River Oaks released a self-titled three-song EP for Rise Records in 2016, and four years later, we still find ourselves extremely appreciative yet wanting so much more material from the project.
While Forever The Sickest Kids pumped out neon pop hits in the late 2000s, Caleb Turman’s side project TEAM* was a little more unknown. Joined by FTSK touring guitarist Rico Garcia, Boys Like Girls’ Bryan Donahue and the Almost’s Jay Vilardi, the indie alt-pop group put out two releases. Their last, Good Morning Bad Day, was produced by Cartel’s Will Pugh. If you had the chance to catch them live before Cartel’s 10-year-anniversary Chroma tour in 2015, the jangly guitars and sweet harmonies would have most certainly won you over.
The Venetia Fair
One word can adequately describe the Venetia Fair: chaos. If you ever wondered what Panic! At The Disco would sound like if they had a keg of the theatrical Foxy Shazam and a shot of the frenetic A Lot Like Birds just before a one-off club date, look no further: The theater has never been so vibrant and violent. It’s truly a shame that one of the larger labels never took a chance and signed ’em. Maybe they’d still be a band today…
And we close out with another FBR act who were quite underrated: VersaEmerge. Later shifting to a two-piece under VERSA before breaking up, the band released several spacy alternative EPs before the 2010s started and their one and only full-length in June 2010. Said LP, Fixed At Zero, is all killer, no filler, consisting of 11 flawless songs. Vocalist Sierra Kusterbeck’s, who now goes by Sierra Kay, biggest claim to fame, however, is her vocal feature on the classic A Day To Remember song “If It Means A Lot To You.”