All too many times, I have read through music articles boasting a list of up-and-coming bands that will shatter everything you know about music… and all too many times, these lists include bands whose full discographies I already know by heart. Not only that, as I read through articles like these, I often find myself aghast at the writer’s lack of passion. These articles tend to be more of a history lesson and less of an argument for why you should listen to such-and-such band right now. In the interest of righting these wrongs, I am about to feed you some great pop punk music that you should start getting into ASAP. The musicians featured on this list are all up-and-coming bands, meaning they are getting on the radar but have yet to make it to the radio. Let’s just dive in, shall we?
The Wonder Years
Led by frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell, The Wonder Years released their first full length album in 2007. While that does seem like a long while back, they didn’t start getting big until recently, when their song “There, There” swept the pop punk world like a storm. A beautiful mix of yelling and soft singing laid over heavy instruments will leave your mind overloaded with emotions.
The Wonder Years is a band you listen to when you are in a sad mood and need something to relate to. The fun part about The Wonder Years is that they are relatable—but at the same time, they will pull you out of that bad mood. They often dance around themes of nostalgia, feeling lost, getting over it and moving forward with your life. This theme is best captured in the first lines of their song “Passing Through A Screen Door”:
Cigarette smoke dances back in the window,
And I can see the haze on the dome light
I'm conjuring ghosts on a forty hour ride home,
And they keep asking me what I'm doing with my life
While my cousins go to bed with their wives.
I'm feeling like I've fallen behind.
The Wonder Years is a great band to listen to when you’re ready to headbang and cry at the same time. They have just recently released an acoustic album that somehow captures the same vibes as all their old music, just with a new spin. This band has continued to maintain a unique sound I have yet to hear anywhere else, and lyrical genius that keeps me thinking about my own situation in life and what I can do better.
Recommended songs: “I Wanted So Badly To Be Brave”; “A Song For Ernest Hemingway”; “The Devil In My Bloodstream”; “I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral”
Have you ever wanted to get into a band that was weird in a good way? Time and time again, when I show my friends Moose Blood, their opinion quickly shifts as follows:
“They sound really off.”
“Well… I guess they’re catchy.”
“Damn, where do I buy the album!?”
Moose Blood is led by frontman Eddy Brewerton. They released the Bukowsky Demo in 2012, but it was their 2016 album Blush that really caused them to blow up. Moose Blood knows just how to create songs that can be sent both to your ex and whomever you are dating at the moment. Their songs are full of love and betrayal. This contrast can really be seen in their song “Pastel”:
It's been a few years now
And girl I'm sleeping better than I ever have
Have I let you down?
It's harder now
You just gotta tell me when you miss me
'Cause I'm barely around
Later, in the same song:
So we're married now
And girl I'm feeling better than I ever have
Don't wanna let you down
Moose Blood has consistently been the band I fall back on when I feel like my relationship isn’t going right, but they are also the band I play when I am feeling madly in love.
Recommended songs: “Gum”; “Honey”; “Glow”; “Boston”; “Swim Down”
I promise this band has nothing to do with baseball! Modern Baseball made it on this list for a few reasons:
All four members—Brendan Lukens, Jake Ewald, Sean Huber, and Ian Farmer—are extremely talented. They released their first EP, sports, in 2012. I personally find their guitar work to be some of the most unique work in the entire pop punk genre. Their song “Fine, Great” displays their instrumental talent along with their high school angst-filled lyrics.
I'm so tired or maybe just bored
I can't really tell the difference whenever I'm talking to you
And I know that you just adore
Starting off with me, that way that there's no way that I'll assume
That you're wasting all of my time
To vent about your problems like how your Instagram stopped working
And how your friends bailed on you
But it was funny cause it was the day you were supposed to hang with me
(Yeah... about that...)
The best part when it comes to their lyrics is that they can be applied to an ex, a sibling, a fake friend, or, really, anyone who let you down. If you want to feel angry and nostalgic, Modern Baseball is your band.
Recommended songs: “The Weekend”; “Your Graduation”; “Casket”; “Rock Bottom”; “Going To Bed Now”
The Story So Far
Let me tell you about a band that will have you remembering every ex from kindergarten to now! No, I don’t mean in the same way that Drake has you missing your ex—I mean the kind of remember that makes you seethe. Have you been cheated on? Are you angry? Did someone stab you in the back? Parker Cannon knows exactly what you are going through. The Story So Far has slowly grown since releasing their first EP in 2007 but have only begun to make it big with their recent album, The Story So Far. Still, every album they’ve made is worth listening to. On this list of bands, The Story So Far is my personal favorite. Every one of their songs tells an angry and relatable story. Parker’s gruff vocals and the heavy metal instrumentals backing him will have you moshing and screaming, but The Story So Far displays more than just anger. The song “Clairvoyant”, from the rare acoustic album they released in 2013, quickly became one of their biggest hits due to its extremely relatable lyrics:
I think you'll notice when things become different
The good vibes in our lives won't feel so consistent
And less becomes more cause the weight is too heavy
I won’t deny being a huge fanboy when it comes to this band. They recently released a song called “Out Of It” that has been on repeat for the past two weeks for me. Everything they do just seems to have its own magic. I suggest checking them out, because I have no doubt they are about to blow up.
Recommended songs: “Nerve”; “Phantom”; “Face Value”; “Mt. Diablo”; “Solo”; everything they’ve ever written
Okay, so you are full of emotions after listening to the first four bands on this list. Now, you just want something catchy and wonderful, but still under the radar. Well, Derek Discanio has your back: ever since their self-released EP in 2010, State Champs has managed to keep an upbeat pop punk sound that could easily find its way onto the radio with time. The only thing stopping this band is the wait for someone big to notice them. Pure Noise Records is a great label, but if they want to get on the radio with these tunes they will have to push the envelope. You would be forgiven for thinking that every song you hear from them is on the radio. One of my favorite songs both lyrically and beat-wise is hands-down “Secrets”:
I've got more secrets than you'll ever know
Another year and you won't let it go
Too many times I told myself to hold on
But it's too late for me, now I'm as good as gone
I decided to end this article with State Champs because they are truly an optimistic band which I think everyone could stand to listen to. State Champs got me through freshman year in college—one of the most stressful times in my life.
Recommended songs: “If I’m Lucky”; “Losing Myself”; “Perfect Score”; “All Or Nothing”; “Elevated”; “Remedy”
Ting Ting Chen