By Mike A. Bryan, staff writer
Punk rushed onto the music scene in the 1970’s, but many of the genre’s most popular bands came out of the 1990’s. In that decade, groups like the Descendents (who started playing together in the 1970’s), Green Day (who have been together since the 1980’s), and later, Blink-182 and NOFX, defined the idea of pop-punk. All of them were popular and well-known enough to be played on major radio stations and headline tours and festivals. Most of them have continued to produce music every few years or so – but for some reason, in 2016 and 2017, all of those bands, along with the lesser known pop-punkers The Bouncing Souls, put out great albums. Amazingly, there has been a resurgence in the post-punk or emo in the past two years, with bands like At the Drive-In, American Football, and Jimmy Eat World also producing incredible albums.
All of the above bands put out seminal works in the 90’s and/or the early 2000’s, but fell off during the last fifteen years. Now, it seems, they are back, ready to make music that suits each band’s respective sound, and delighting listeners who thought these bands had disappeared. In addition to these new albums, emo band The Get Up Kids and punk band Social Distortion have been going on successful tours in recent times. For lovers of post-punk, also known as emo, now is a time of revival of traditional sounds; a departure from the sad, radio-friendly kiddie music from bands that almost ruined emo, such as My Chemical Romance and Panic at the Disco. For the pop-punkers out there, bands like The Offspring and Fall Out Boy almost destroyed the sound by making it so mainstream, but fortunately, things seem to be taking a turn for the better.
When you talk about pop-punk, both the new Blink-182 and Green Day albums were long overdue, but they do not break any new ground; more so they just play a toned-down version of their formerly rowdy but silly selves. The Blink-182 album is quite entertaining, and deserves critical and fan praise. Green Day has morphed into an almost alternative band with punk leanings, but the album is still fun and energetic. It is amazing how NOFX continue to put out so much music, especially since multiple members have side projects, like Fat Mike’s (NOFX) band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Again, they are not breaking any new ground on this most recent album, but it is a good listen and fans of the band will be pleased. The Descendents, one of the most important influencers of the pop-punk style, have returned with a fun, tongue-in-cheek, lively album that will satisfy any lover of the pop punk genre. For those hardcore fans of the Bouncing Souls, the newest album will remind you of some of their best songs from the late 90’s, and it’s certainly worth a listen, even though the sound is tried and true.
If you miss the post-punk/art-punk/emo sound of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, then the most recent albums by American Football, Jimmy Eat World, and At the Drive-In should be in your music rotation. American Football is one of the lesser-known, but extremely important, bands that helped define the emo and post-punk sound. The new album is a return to their original sound, with all the raw emotion and subtlety of their earlier work. This band’s newest release is especially remarkable due to the fact that they only put out a short EP and one album in the late 90’s, and have not made any more music since then. Jimmy Eat World, meanwhile, helped define the softer, more melodic side of emo music in the 90’s and early 2000’s, and their sound has evolved to become even more mature and refined. At the Drive-In’s new album is, perhaps, the most exciting release of the past couple years, due to the fact that the band broke up in 2002, and have had other successful side projects: The Mars Volta and Sparta. It is not the original lineup, so the sound has changed a bit, but lovers of the hard, fast, loud, art-punk style of ATDI will love the newest work. They have lost some of their melodic tendencies for a more guitar-driven sound. If you thought you knew what emo music was, but were not familiar with these bands, then you must check them out as soon as possible.
This punk and post-punk revival has been accompanied by a slew of new bands making more 90’s-sounding punk and emo music. Bands like Beach Slang, Preoccupations, Title Fight, and Sleaford Mods are all keeping that punk ethos alive. If you are a former punk rocker, or currently into the sound, then do not skip out on any of the bands listed in this article. Each has their own uniqueness and references to other punk music that makes them worth a listen.