Podcast: Mike Herrera Talks Livestream Performances and (Almost) 30 Years of MxPx

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Thought we were done talking MxPx? Think again! Mike Herrera stopped by the podcast to talk with Kiel Hauck about the band’s current livestream series, Between This World and the Next, and how the band has stayed innovative when it comes to connecting with their fans. Mike also reflects on the upcoming 30th anniversary of MxPx and shares about the experience of exploring the band’s deep catalogue across their recent livestream setlists. Finally, he discusses the ebbs and flows of fan response to the band’s music over the years and the prospect of a new MxPx album. Take a listen!

You can grab tickets to the band’s next livestream performance on their website.

Subscribe to our Podcast on Apple or Spotify

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Photo Credit: Jered Scott

Podcast: The Best of MxPx with Jason Tate

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This one has been a long time coming, folks. We welcome Jason Tate, founder of Chorus.fm, to the podcast to talk all things MxPx. Jason and Kiel Hauck break down the band’s history and legacy before diving into an extensive ranking of the band’s 10 studio albums. They also discuss the biggest “What if?” in the band’s career, their favorite MxPx concert memories, and why the band is still so vital and relevant almost three decades into their career.

It’s safe to say that It’s All Dead and this podcast wouldn’t exist without MxPx and the impact they’ve made on the scene. We had an absolute blast diving into the band’s legacy and discography and we hope you enjoy this (rather long!) episode. Long Live Left Coast Punk Rawk.

Subscribe to our Podcast on Apple or Spotify

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Photo Credit: Jered Scott

Review: Goldfinger – Never Look Back

This year has been a surprisingly busy one for Goldfinger. During the early days of the pandemic, the band released a series of re-recordings of their favorite hits from separate locations, which became a shockingly well-received reprieve from the dark times of quarantine. Never Look Back, the band’s new album, launches directly from the momentum of those videos, creating a quasi “best of” in terms of sound by incorporating every grand element of the band’s discography into an elegantly written punk rock album. 

You can buy or stream Never Look Back on Apple Music.

Never Look Back feels like a ‘classic’ Goldfinger album as much as it does a modern punk record. Each track sizzles with raging guitar riffs that, more often than not, incorporates ska into most of the album. For an album steeped in the essence of the past, it sounds incredibly fresh in 2020. Comprised of a semi supergroup, Goldfinger simply sound better than they ever have. 

Songwriter and singer John Feldmann sounds incredible, pushing his vocals from chorus to chorus and carrying a melodic monotone through most verses that have helped define the band. MXPX frontman Mike Herrera settles in once again as bassist, shifting from blistering punk tracks and backup singer (“Good Guy”) to smooth ska rhythms (“The Best Life”). Guitarists Philip Sneed and original Goldfinger member Charlie Paulson rage through tracks, crafting some of the best songs in the band’s career (“Cannonball”, “The City”). Drummer Nick Gross keeps percussion running between genres, picking up seamlessly after Travis Barker‘s run on the band’s last album. 

Despite the title, Never Look Back revels in reflection. Sonically, the album reverts to Goldfinger’s early records, reinvigorating the ska elements and leaning heavily into the pop punk elements of more recent albums. Lyrically, the album settles into the tried-and-true concepts of failed relationships and energetically addressing grievances (“Nothing To Me”). Don’t expect Never Look Back to have a message that will make you think too hard. Instead, it will have you fist pumping to elegantly simple choruses primed for swirling mosh pits.

Opening track “Infinite” explores the pull Feldmann feels producing for seemingly every pop punk band in existence balanced against the expectations set on Goldfinger as one of the few remaining genre bands from the late 90’s (“Save yourself from me / Cause I’m about to change, about to break / Cause everybody wants me to be somebody else”). The song also gives Charlie Paulson and Mike Herrera a chance to take lead vocals on a verse each. 

Lead single “Wallflower”, one of the few positive songs on the album, is a reflection on Feldmann’s wife and plays out as a California love story, complete with an extravagant horn section (“It’s only getting better / Since the day I met her, she wears my sweater / In California weather”).

The nostalgic-named “Golden Days” sounds like a Less Than Jake track from the early 2000’s, reflecting on the lost days of youth and looking fearlessly ahead toward lifelong dreams (“Whatever happened to the golden days? / Whatever happened to the plans we made? / Whatever happened to the late night drives, there was nothing to hide”).

Never Look Back is the type of throwback album 2020 was primed for. Bursting with punk energy and the dance ethics of third-wave ska, the album manages to make the listener feel good despite the angry themes found from song to song. Personifying the frustrations of the year through relationships and reflecting on older, enjoyable times, Never Look Back maintains classic sensibilities through a modern lens. Goldfinger sound more energized than ever, and ready to command a thrilling live presence when shows become a thing again.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and still has a pound of gummi bears to eat despite snacking on them all week. Why would he buy this many gummi bears?!

The Best Songs of 2020

You can view our list of The Best Albums of 2020 here.

For many of us, our music listening experience in 2020 was vastly different from any other year. I honestly have no memories of jamming to songs in my car, hearing music over the loud speaker at a bar, or enjoying live music with a crowd of people on a warm, summer night. In 2020, my memories are mostly indoors, and very often, alone.

So what songs do we turn to in those moments? What tracks kept us company through the ups and mostly downs of a year lived largely in quarantine? We did our best to build a list of songs that captured the emotional highs and lows we felt, along with tracks that spoke something meaningful or something new. Take a look – and a listen – and let us know your favorite tracks in the replies!

15. AJR – “Bang!”

Here’s a real wild card. I was supposed to see AJR play this spring but then quarantine started. They’re a recent addition to my Spotify, but my brother is a big fan and has been trying to get me to listen to them for about a year or so now (Hi Nick!). He was largely unsuccessful in his attempts, but their radio single “Bang!” was when I hopped on the train. I’m not generally a Top 40 gal, but this song is refreshing. It’s radio friendly but original. Lyrically, it’s about growing up and how difficult that is, but sonically we’re at a party. It’s a promising single for the band’s fourth album and I’m excited to see how it fits in with the rest of it (We can expect that project early next year.) – Nadia Alves

14. The Bombpops – “Double Arrows Down”

“Double Arrows Down” is a raging punk song that focuses on guitarist/vocalist Poli Van Dam’s struggle with diabetes. Focused around an incident of passing out at a gas station due to complications from the disease, the song is equal parts terrifying and filled with rage (“I’m sitting there, in another cold pharmacy chair / Standing by while they suck my veins and wallet dry / I can write all these defiant songs, but my life is still reliant on machines”). The Bombpops portray the terror of this disease against a blazing punk riff and an electrifying pop chorus. The full horror and frustration of the disease is played out against the sound of rebellion, and hope to ultimately battle diabetes to the end. – Kyle Schultz

13. Juice Wrld – “Righteous”

Juice Wrld’s posthumous 2020 album Legends Never Die is a breathtaking view of what was to come from the emo rapper before his tragic passing last December from a drug-induced seizure. “Righteous”, the album’s lead single, serves as a haunting reflection on his mental health struggles and self-medication in an attempt to ease the pain. His words float gently atop the melancholy beat as he ponders on death and the cyclical nature of his addiction. “Taking medicine to fix all of the damage / My anxiety the size of a planet”, he confesses as his voice begins to rise. It’s a track that encapsulates the heart of a gifted artist gone far too soon. – Kiel Hauck

12. Twenty One Pilots – “Level of Concern”

For only releasing one song in 2020, Twenty One Pilots have had quite the impact this year. They released “Level of Concern” in April, when quarantine was only a two week affair and we all were baking sourdough and blending our coffee. Ah, simpler times. Personally, the guys have had a lot going on as well — Josh got married at the end of December, and Tyler and Jenna had their baby. They still found time to give us the perfect song about the absolute stress and anxiety of living through a pandemic, and it’s easily the most on-the-nose song of the year, which is why it makes my top songs for 2020. Plus it’s a bop. – Nadia Alves

11. All Time Low – “Sleeping In”

“Sleeping In” is the best song All Time Low have written in a decade. Seamlessly blending the pop direction of recent albums and the Warped Tour mosh pits of albums past, the song is the personification of the band’s career. All at once oozing in swagger and sexiness, “Sleeping In” is the song that All Time Low were always meant to write. The song manages to find restraint in the verses with a pop-funk mesh (“We got shit to do, you got work / But we fall right back into bed, like it’s all just a game / And we can’t help that, no we can’t help that”) and an all-out punk rock chorus that rivals All Time Low’s best (“If I said ‘I want your body,’ would you hold it against me?”). – Kyle Schultz

10. The 1975 – “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America”

I’ve long held that The 1975 are at their best when their songs are stripped down to an elemental level, which is what makes “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America” one of their best. A painful, folksy track about secret loves forbidden by religion reaches unexpected heights thanks to contributions from Phoebe Bridgers. Could anyone else on the planet make lines as simple as, “I’m in love with the girl next door / Her name is Claire” sound as emotional and meaningful through cracking, whispered vocals? When Bridgers and Matt Healy come together during the song’s final chorus, their song of love just beyond their reach becomes magic – and tragic: “Fortunately I believe / Lucky me”. – Kiel Hauck

9. Phoebe Bridgers – “Moon Song”

Though not released as one of the singles from Punisher, this track from the album is my favorite. I mentioned the raw emotion of it in my album review. Generally the freshness of a song will influence how much it sticks in my mind before I toss it aside for something shinier I get distracted by, but this one is a true jewel on the album, Phoebe’s discography, and the year in music. It’s rumored to be inspired by Conor Oberst, but lines like “You’re holding me like water in your hands” is all too relatable in a year where almost all of us have experienced intense loss and a redefining of priorities. I could have chosen any one of the songs from Punisher as one of my top songs this year — the album is truly that great — but “Moon Song” just has a little something extra that takes it all the way to the top for me. – Nadia Alves

8. KennyHoopla – “how will i rest in peace if i’m buried by a highway?//”

The title track from KennyHoopla’s debut EP is a renaissance song of genre, mashing new wave rock with garage punk and creating a modern dance track with the sensibilities of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The song is an energetic track that sounds ripped from the early 2000’s indie scene. However, the track is also a commentary on the uncomfortable nature of conforming to looking acceptable in society (“Culture is so claustrophobic / Claws to prove it hurts so good / And the party’s over / I’m still on your couch now, love”). The speed at which society moves and changes its opinion is a damaging thing (“How can I rest in peace if I’m buried by a highway? / Pain on the keys, is everybody still breathing? / Weight of my shadow, it gets more heavy, and it scares me, yeah”). The song turns the anxiety of the quickly changing world into a song that works equally on the dance floor as it does on a Midwestern emo playlist. – Kyle Schultz

7. Halsey – “you should be sad”

For the country ballad entry to the genre melting pot that is Manic, Halsey penned “you should be sad”, one of the rawest and most personal tracks of the year. It’s easy to mistake it as a break-up song (that was last year’s “Without Me”), but this is what you write when you’re on the other side, looking back at your ex with a smirk. Halsey tees things up mightily on the pre-chorus with the lines of, “No, you’re not half the man you think that you are / And you can’t fill the hole inside of you with money, drugs, and cars”, before bringing down the hammer with, “I’m so glad I never, ever had a baby with you / ‘Cause you can’t love nothing unless there’s something in it for you”. Ouch. It just might be the most empowered sad country song you’ll ever hear. – Kiel Hauck

6. Hayley Williams – “Crystal Clear”

In Hayley Williams’ solo project, Petals for Armor, she gave us songs about mental health, loss, femininity and new beginnings. Having the album since May really gave me a chance to pick through every track and I can confidently say “Crystal Clear” deserves a place on my top track list for the year. It’s the best closer I heard this year, and the way it brings the album full circle was necessary for something that began in such a dark and spiteful place. Hayley really took the time to truly process the past few years of her life and the decisions she’d made. Finishing it all off with a powerful song about forgiveness and clarity is a great lesson for all of us. – Nadia Alves

5. Taylor Swift – “Mad Woman”

One of the few venomous songs on Swift’s folklore, “Mad Woman” makes use of every line to fight back against an oppressive industry. On a base level, the song acts as a spiritual successor to Lover’s “The Man”, but there is much more to the song than the theme of “a woman scorned.” The song is at least partially a commentary against Scooter Braun, the music producer who bought all of Swift’s master recordings (“What do you sing on your drive home? / Do you see my face in the neighbor’s lawn? / Does she smile? Or does she mouth, ‘Fuck you forever?’”). One of Swift’s few rage-imbued songs, “Mad Woman” describes the toll taken on women who see themselves being taken advantage of by anyone (“Every time you call me crazy, I get more crazy / What about that? / And when you say I seem angry, I get more angry”). – Kyle Schultz

4. The Weeknd – “Faith”

The most exciting stretch of After Hours belongs to the three consecutive songs featuring production from Metro Boomin, culminating with “Faith”. Here, Abel Tesfaye’s vocals become an instrument in the mix as he circles the drain and loses his religion, confessing, “When I’m coming down is the most I feel alone”. It’s a startling lament to an addiction that creates a chasm between himself and others, but the song reaches its thematic and sonically thrilling climax in the final minutes as the entire tone of the song shifts. “I ended up in the back of a flashing car”, he sings as he gently describes the shimmering lights of the cityscape and ambulance siren. The song fades into “Blinding Lights” – the biggest pop hit of the year, which takes on a sinister new meaning in this context. Truly, no one has mastered this sleight of hand trick better than The Weeknd. – Kiel Hauck

3. Marina – “Man’s World”

This has been one heck of a year regarding social justice and reform. Historic protests against police brutality, and in the America election, the choice of our first female vice president —  just to name a couple. Marina has come swooping in from her break after 2019’s Love + Fear to bring us “Man’s World,” a scathing track about gender equality, one of many women to release commentary on the issue. As a woman, the time for artists to talk about important issues plaguing my demographic are always welcome, and Marina has dropped a truth bomb on us in this track. She also put her money where her mouth is by choosing an all-gal team for the track’s production. It’s absolutely my track of the year, with its drop in November completely upending any idea I had of my ranking. – Nadia Alves

2. MxPx – “Worries”

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, MXPX were one of the first bands to release an original song about the new reality we all faced. “Worries” managed to melt away much of the anxiety that I felt living through the height of Chicago’s lockdowns and inspired me to leave the quarantine I had been in and venture home for the first time in two months.

“Worries” managed to bypass fears of the disease at the height of the lockdowns in big cities, and express the emotional resonance of a classic MXPX song while inspiring listeners to persevere with enigmatic skate punk verses and a raging punk guitar chorus/bridge (“I’m not worried, I’ll be fine / Just want you to know you’re on my mind / I’m not worried, just worried sick, a little dose of you might do the trick / You’re the cure for worried sick”).

It’s almost solely because of this song that I began to gather myself again and prepare for the rest of the year in Chicago’s early May. Even now, in December, I give this song credit for inspiring me to cast off the fear of the Spring lockdowns and prepare for the return of the every day. It’s also been a constant soundtrack throughout the year as infections seemed to surge again, reminding me that a return to “normal life” is only a matter of time away. – Kyle Schultz

1. Dua Lipa – “Break My Heart”

It’s difficult to choose just one song from Future Nostalgia that fully encapsulates Dua Lipa’s thrilling breakthrough this year, but if “Don’t Start Now” was fan service for the general audience, “Break My Heart” represents Dua’s alt-pop queen potential. Featuring an irresistible interpolation of INXS’ “Need You Tonight”, this dance/disco track feels less like an 80’s homage and more like a doorway into the future of pop music. In short, it’s the most fully realized track of the Future Nostalgia concept.

But as you’re dancing, take a listen to Dua’s growth as a songwriter. “Break My Heart” is about those moments in an exciting new relationship when you’re standing on the edge of the cliff. Is it safe to jump? Who could ever know? “I’m indecisive, but this time I know for sure”, she sings on the opening verse before crooning, “It’s you in my reflection, I’m afraid of all the things you could do to me”, on the pre-chorus. It’s a giddy uncertainty we’ve all experienced set to the most electric soundtrack you could imagine. And in a year as dark as this, it’s a refreshing dose of light and innocence. – Kiel Hauck

Honorable Mention:

Run the Jewels – “Yankee and the Brave (Ep. 4)”
Billie Eilish – “No Time to Die”
Carly Rae Jepsen – “Comeback”
Ariana Grande – “Positions”
Childish Gambino – “Algorhythm”

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Reflecting On: MxPx – The Ever Passing Moment

The first MxPx release to catch my ear wasn’t a studio album. In the summer of 1999, the band released At the Show, a 21-track live album coming on the heels of an unprecedented run of solid gold pop punk – literally. Life in General firmly legitimized the band in 1996 before 1998’s Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo was certified gold, followed by Let it Happen, one of the greatest collections of B-sides the genre has seen. The skate punk kids from Bremerton had arrived.

You can buy or stream The Ever Passing Moment on Apple Music.

At the Show introduced me to the band and served as a primer on their greatest hits. Even now, when the studio version “Chick Magnet” comes on, I sing along with the vocals of Mike Herrera’s much looser and more playful live rendition. It’s probably no surprise then that 2000’s The Ever Passing Moment is my favorite MxPx album. It was the first one to release after I’d fallen head-over-heels in love with the band.

It is now 20 years old, which almost seems impossible.

You can have a lot of fun debates about which MxPx album is the best because there really aren’t any bad ones. And while I’ve always conceded that Life in General stands at the front of the pack, it’s never held the same place in my heart. The Ever Passing Moment finds the band at the top of their game with nothing to prove. Free from their divorce from Tooth & Nail Records, MxPx seemed to spread their wings on A&M – three years later, they would release their most commercial album to date with Before Everything & After.

Almost every one of the album’s 15 tracks clocks in at under 3 minutes, and each flexes the band’s most impressive muscle – fast-paced, left coast punk rawk. The Ever Passing Moment breezes by effortlessly, which is probably why I’ve played it so relentlessly over the years that I know every beat and turn like the back of my hand. Not to mention the litany of memorable moments that reside in MxPx lore, from the stomping chorus of “Responsibility” to Dave Grohl’s scream of “One, two, three, go!” at the start of “The Next Big Thing”.

Because the album is so solid from front to back, it takes the pressure off the singles to carry two decades’ worth of weight. I’ve always found unsung tracks like “Two Whole Years”, “Foolish”, “Answer in the Question”, and “Unsaid” to be just as fun, energetic, and memorable as anything in the band’s catalogue. And truly, that’s how you end up talking about an album 20 years later – it has to be an album worth talking about.

As the pop punk genre took off into the mainstream at the start of the new century, MxPx began their transition to a band of legacy. To date, the band has released five more full-length albums since The Ever Passing Moment, each worthy of celebration, even if they didn’t hold quite the same level of influence. No matter. A large majority of the onslaught of pop punk’s new wave could trace their lineage back to MxPx. 

If Life in General was the album that made a new generation of punks want to pick up a guitar, The Ever Passing Moment was the album that served as the definitive playbook for pop punk excellence.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple pop culture outlets and was previously an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife, daughter, and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Podcast: The Delightful Return of MxPx

Last month, pop punk legends MxPx returned with a surprise self-titled album that quickly became lauded as one of the band’s best. On our latest podcast, Kiel Hauck is joined by Richard Clark of Christianity Today to discuss what makes the new album so much fun and how the band’s reflections on growing up have resonated with their longtime fanbase. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What is your favorite MxPx album? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: MxPx – MxPx

Self-titling an album is always a bold move, but to do it a quarter century into a career is something special. At this point, MxPx are one of the legends of the skate punk/pop punk scene, which makes it fitting that their newest album, MxPx is a reflection of their accomplishments and favorite memories. It genuinely sounds like the band are continuously having a blast. If anything, it confirms the brilliance of loud, fast simplicity in music and is a reminder of why people fell in love with punk to begin with.

You can buy or stream MxPx on Apple Music.

MxPx is an album that finds joy in reflection. It’s pure energy that at once shows the craft of a band so far into their career, as well as the manic noise that draws so many people to punk rock. While it sounds like it could have fallen out of 1998, MxPx is an record that relishes not being more than it is and doubles down on itself in an era when bands (and audiences) seem obsessed with finding something new.

Its greatest strength is that it is simple in construct. The music sounds similar to the skate punk of 20 years ago, though more refined. The lyrics wholeheartedly become party ready sing-a-longs, but there are glimpses of a career well earned and fondly remembered. It’s a touch that makes the record feel like a celebration of the band itself as much as it is meant to excite a crowd into a frenzy.

Album opener, “Rolling Strong” sets the tone for the album as singer Mike Herrera proudly boasts, “There’s no giving up, no going home / We’ll be here till the end / We’re pressing on / Probably should have asked a friend, but that not how we’re living / We’re still rolling strong”. It’s a song that really sounds like the band still love what they do, especially during a breakdown filled with enthusiastic shouts and crazed guitars.

MxPx finds ways to mix memories with the youthful optimism of pop punk in ways that sound neither self-indulgent nor ham-fisted. “The Way We Do” has a generic sounding chorus about following your dreams (“This is the way we do / Like the way we always wanted to”), but dispersed between these are stories about past tours and great nights on the road. “Let me live on through the songs and stories / Like that time Face to Face destroyed our van / Our freezing balls, crossed Canada with Simple Plan / Or stealing food from Bad Religion’s dressing room”.

Closing song, “Moments Like This” sends off a message of hope about making the most out of life and enjoying freedom while you have it. “It’s moments like this, that I’m gonna miss / When I’m dead and gone and I can’t kiss my kids / Will they look up at the sky and think about me? / These are the ways I’ve been spending my days, thinking weird thoughts and the things that amaze / Beyond my life and the way I’ve been able to live it so free.”

Though I listen to a lot of punk rock, I find music similar to skate punk hard to comment on. Predicated on fast guitars, steady drums and thundering bass lines, it can start to run together extraordinarily easily. However, simplicity is the biggest strength of MxPx. Many bands who started in the genre around the same time as MxPx, such as blink-182 and AFI, have drastically changed their sound over the years. Without more familiarity with MxPx, I can’t say for sure how their self-titled album compares to their earlier work, but it is crafted with the strength of a band who isn’t trying to build their reputation as much as they’re putting it on display.

MxPx is an album that should make fans of the band proud, and one of the few self-titled albums that seem to truly represent the band as a whole. While it provides one of the most fleshed-out versions of lightning quick punk rock, it makes the genre feel relevant and energized. MxPx could have been released anywhere in the last two decades, but it wouldn’t have quite the same depth of nostalgia or inspiration. Perhaps more important than anything though, MxPx is just incredibly fun to listen to.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and he just heard the cabinet in his bathroom open and close on its own. He is typing this to avoid having to go see why it did that. The cat sitting on his lap seems alarmed as well. Booooo.

MxPx – “Teenage Politics” Turns 20

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Want to feel old? Teenage Politics, the sophomore effort from legendary Bremerton, Washington, pop punk band MxPx, has officially turned 20 years old. Released in 1995, the seminal album became a staple in the pop punk community and played a large role in the rapid growth of Tooth and Nail Records in the mid-90s. The album also contained classic tracks like, “Punk Rawk Show”, “Moneytree” and more.

To celebrate, the band has released a commemorative t-shirt that can be purchased at the band’s website. If you’re in the mood, you can also check out a feature from last year in which we ranked every single MxPx release. When you’re finished, throw on Teenage Politics to celebrate!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Top 10 Summertime Pop Punk Track Ones

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If you’re like us, the first weeks of warm weather and sunny skies provide the perfect opportunity to drive with the windows down and the stereo cranked up. What better way to celebrate the beginning of the spring and summer months than with pop punk blaring from the speakers?

Believe it or not, there was a time when listening to your favorite pop punk songs didn’t include downloading the latest single from iTunes or queuing up a playlist from Spotify. Instead, it meant inserting your favorite CD or cassette tape into the stereo and starting from track one.

That’s why we’re celebrating our favorite summertime pop punk track ones. These are attention grabbing, foot tapping, sing-a-long ready songs that kick of some of our favorite summertime albums. Check out our top 10 below and feel free to chime in with your favorite track ones in the replies!

10. The Fratellis – “Henrietta”

“Henrietta” by the Fratellis is an energetic romp that starts off Costello Music, an album full of singles. From the crisp slap of the high hat, the baritone sax acting as bass and the rickety guitar chords, the song never takes itself seriously and builds the energy right up until the very end. It’s one of the few songs I can think of that has a solo of the band members shouting “Wa wa wa waaaa”, only to be followed by the pub-rock lyrics of, “Clean out the bank and bump off your daddy, you can come live with us amongst the has beens and the addicts”. – Kyle Schultz

9. Relient K – “Chap Stick, Chapped Lips, and Things Like Chemistry”

Back in the day, Relient K were known as the corny goofballs of the pop punk scene. With Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right, But Three Do, the band turned the corner towards a more serious sound, while still keeping the cheekiness that made them so fun to begin with. “Chap Stick” is the perfect example, as the song celebrates one of the greatest of all summertime traditions: a trip to the theme park. Vocalist Matt Theissen even laments losing his phone “to the lake beneath the Batman ride”. It’s a song about youth, summer and the awkward relationships that come along with both. Theissen ends the song with his infamous line, “I don’t want to be perceived the way I am / I just want to be perceived the way I am”. – Kiel Hauck

8. My Chemical Romance – “Helena”

“Helena” became one of the oddest singles to dominate MTV, mostly due to the hypnotizing umbrella dances amidst a funeral, and introduced the world to My Chemical Romance. What it lacks in the polish of MCR’s later work, it makes up for in raw punk energy and Gerard Way’s gorgeous crooning. It’s atmospheric, creepy and commanding as Way sings, “So long and goodnight, so long and goodnight”; a fitting end to a season of energy. – KS

7. MxPx – “Middlename”

“Emotion is my middle name!” Likely one of the most famous opening lines of any pop punk album, these lyrics, courtesy of Mike Herrera, kick off Life in General, one of pop punk’s seminal albums. Driven by the fast-paced drumming of Yuri Ruley, “MIddlename” is a definitive example of the golden age of pop punk, combining the perfect emotional blend of confusion, anger and determination. MxPx has always had a knack for crafting upbeat, in-your-face tunes and “Middlename” is the match strike that ignites an album that bands would be replicating for more than a decade. – KH

6. Green Day – “American Idiot”

“American Idiot” is a quintessential summer song: loud, catchy and extremely pronounced. For being a song with such a simple melody, the chorus of, “Don’t want to be an American idiot, one nation controlled by the media / Information age of hysteria, it’s calling out to idiot America” is legendary. Simply put, it is a song designed from the ground up to blow out car speakers and demand fist pumps in the putrid humidity. If there’s anything that can keep spirits up in the heat, it’s the song that helped relaunch Green Day’s career. – KS

5. Fall Out Boy – “Tell That Mick He Just Made My List of Things to Do Today”

No, we’re not the types to go on and on about how Take This To Your Grave is Fall Out Boy’s best album and everything since has fallen short. However, there’s no doubt that “Mick” is an absolutely killer opening track. From the opening dial tone to the Stump’s belting of “around your throat” to close out the song, it’s a blast of nostalgia from beginning to end. Along with its upbeat feel, the song showcases some of Wentz’ most potent songwriting, including the infamous line, “Let’s play this game called when you catch fire I wouldn’t piss to put you out”. – KH

4. Saves the Day – “At Your Funeral”

“At Your Funeral” by Saves the Day is without a doubt one of the most well known songs in the scene. With the slow build up of twangy plucked strings leading to the brutal ending and shaking guitars, the song is a slow build that ends in absolute melodic madness. For as dark as the lyrics can be, the song is so upbeat and poppy, it’s impossible to not be happy or sing-a-long as soon as the opening sentence drudges out of Chris Conley’s mouth, “This song will become the anthem of your underground”. – KS

3. All Time Low – “Weightless”

The guys in All Time Low were facing a rather big moment in their careers upon the release of their third full length release in 2009, Nothing Personal. Would the band keep the momentum that had propelled them to the forefront of the pop punk scene or hit a speed bump that would send the band crashing back to reality. With the album’s opening track, “Weightless”, one thing was crystal clear – All Time Low was here to stay. The epitome of a summer anthem, this song had just he right amount of pep and positive energy to push the band over the top. Vocalist Alex Gaskarth’s “Maybe it’s not my weekend, but it’s gonna be my year” captures the heart of summer’s dog days for many and provides a dash of hope for the days to come. – KH

2. blink-182 – “Feeling This”

While it isn’t blink-182’s most famous song, “Feeling This” is a great summer song with varying styles and the first hint of the band’s more mature sound. The bouncing guitar blazes past Travis barker’s amazing drumming and intertwines lyrics about a lustful relationship falling into the bedroom, constantly pushed forward by Mark Hoppus’ shouting “I’m feeling this”. The duo toy with R&B elements and pop, holding the signature fury of their signature sound at bay just long enough to build towards a final wave of pop punk the likes of which the genre as a whole hopes to create. – KS

1. Yellowcard – “Way Away”

Before the title track of Ocean Avenue would become everyone’s summer anthem in 2003, “Way Away” proceeded it as the album’s lead single. If those opening notes don’t give you chills, it’s likely a sign that you missed out on this incredible album’s heyday. LP’s drumming, Sean Mackin’s violin and Ryan Key’s belted notes of “Way away away from here I’ll be” scream to be played at full volume with the wind in your hair. Truth be told, this entire album is a summertime experience from start to finish, but “Way Away” kicks things off perfectly. – KH

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Ranking the Albums of MxPx

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Whether you know it or not, if you listen to music coming from today’s punk scene, there’s a strong chance that some of your favorite bands are heavily influenced by Bremerton, Wash., punk band MxPx.

Starting in 1992 as a couple of high school friends jamming together in neighborhood backyards, MxPx would go on to become one of the most influential pop punk bands in history and the flagship band for one of the genre’s premiere labels, Tooth and Nail Records. Over the span of the band’s 22-year existence, they’ve released nine full-length albums, two cover albums and a slew of EPs and b-side albums.

PODCAST: The Delightful Return of MXPX

Influenced by bands like Black Flag and The Descendants and contemporaries to the likes of blink-182, New Found Glory and Good Charlotte, MxPx never achieved the wide-spread mainstream audience of their peers, yet they remain one of the most revered and respected bands from their era. For many, the band’s journey through adolescence parallels their own and serves as the soundtrack to growing up.

Comprised for the majority of the band’s career of Mike Herrera (bass, vocals), Tom Wisniewski (guitar) and Yuri Ruley (drums), the band still plays scattered shows and records new music during their free time. They released their most recent album, Plans Within Plans, in 2012.

We’ve decided that now is as good of a time as ever to break down the band’s discography and rank their full-length albums from one to nine. For the purposes of this piece, we’re leaving out all cover albums, b-sides and EPs and focusing only on the band’s proper full lengths.

Read on to relive a bit of the band’s history and see how we rank the albums of MxPx. Feel free to share your thoughts and your own rankings in the replies!

9. Pokinatcha

pokinatchaPokinatcha, MxPx’s 1994 debut, is a fast paced and raucous affair, with many of the album’s 21 tracks clocking in at under two minutes. The only album to feature Andy Husted on guitar instead of Tom Wisniewski, Pokinatcha is rough around the edges, to be sure. You can see flashes of greatness to come scattered throughout the album and it’s still fun to go back and listen to the band in their infancy.

8. Plans Within Plans

plans_within_plansThe most recent release from the band, Plans Within Plans was recorded over the course of several months during 2011. Though the album lacks a bit of cohesiveness and the power of some of the band’s better albums, it’s still one hell of a punk rock record. Opener “Aces Up” is a highlight and proves that even 20 years in, MxPx is still doing it better than most bands on the scene.

7. Before Everything and After

before_everything_and_afterLong considered the black sheep of MxPx’s discography, Before Everything and After is about as pop as the band ever got. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – there’s some great tracks on this album, but there’s also a few over-produced and out-of-place songs that don’t sound right on an MxPx album. Though it’s not a throw-away as some fans believe, it’s far from the band’s best work.

6. Teenage Politics

Teenage_PoliticsTeenage Politics serves as the bridge between the band’s beginnings and their golden era. The band began polishing their rough punk rock sound and added in a splash of skate punk to keep things interesting. The album also features staple track “Punk Rock Show” along with a few other classics, including hidden track “Dolores”. It’s youthful, energetic and showcases a band on the rise.

5. Panic 

panicNo one saw this one coming. MxPx bounced back from 2003’s poppy Before Everything and After with what may be their heaviest and hardest hitting album – Panic. The album ignites with a bang when opener “The Darkest Places” kicks in and then proceeds full throttle, featuring staples such as “Heard That Sound”, “Young and Depressed” and “Wrecking Hotel Rooms”. Panic single-handedly breathed life back into MxPx and proved that their career was far from over.

4. Secret Weapon

secret_weaponThe band reunited with Tooth and Nail Records in 2007 to release Secret Weapon, an album that showcases pop punk at its best. Produced by Aaron Sprinkle, the album is glossier than some of their other releases, but is just as fast and furious – check out “Contention” as an example. The album is chock full of singles, including the title track, “Shut it Down”, “You’re On Fire” and “Angels”. Fifteen years into their career, MxPx managed to mop the floor with majority of the pop punk scene and solidified their legacy with Secret Weapon.

3. Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo

slowly_going_the_way_of_the_buffaloYou wouldn’t have been able to blame MxPx if they had failed to follow up Life in General with another stellar album, but the truth is, Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo is a classic in its own right and is also the band’s only gold record. The band is on top of their game on Buffalo, an album that’s littered with classic songs – “Tomorrow’s Another Day”, “Invitation to Understanding”, “I’m OK, You’re OK” and many more. Titled after a dismayed fan told the band they were “slowly going the way of the buffalo,” MxPx decided to prove him very, very wrong.

2. The Everpassing Moment 

the_everpassing_momentIt’s true that this album may be ranked too high for some, but The Everpassing Moment features just about everything there is to love about MxPx. There’s no duds on this album and it rolls rapid-fire from front to back. Whether it’s the fast-paced industry commentary found on “The Next Big Thing”, the sing-along feel of “Is the Answer in the Question?” or the accessibility of semi-hit “Responsibility”, the album is solid throughout. From fiery opener “My Life Story” to dark closer “Misplaced Memories”, The Everpassing Moment may be the most re-listenable and consistent of any MxPx album.

1. Life in General

Life_in_generalIt’s really no surprise to find Life in General at the top of this list. The album is considered one of the greatest pop punk albums of all time, and for good reason. MxPx managed to capture lightning in a bottle – every song is memorable, well-written and perfectly placed. There may be no better way to describe the process of growing up than Life in General – from the girl problems (“Do Your Feet Hurt?”, “Chick Magnet”) to depressing days (“Middlename”) to learning to be yourself (“Sometimes You Have to Ask Yourself”, “Doing Time”).

In addition to Herrera’s amazing storytelling abilities, the album is also a snapshot of the golden era of pop punk. Wisniewski’s guitar slides the melody in and out with apathetic excellence while Ruley’s drums power the songs from front to back. Even the album’s artwork is classic, capturing the warzone of a high school hallway. Life in General isn’t just MxPx’s best album, it’s one of the best punk albums of all time.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.