A Punk Primer

I got an email from Frum Librarian asking for advice on getting into punk. I’ve decided to make it a post as I feel this kind of growth is important for our community. What menahel could muster up the energy to reject someone from his school when he’s just been grooving to Less Than Jake, or getting upset over the increasing instrusions in private life that the government has given itself the power to do and Bad Religion just made you aware of it? (You’ll notice that LTJ isn’t on the list. That’s because I focused on recent albums and I just didn’t like ‘In With The Out Crowd’ and I’m saving ‘Losing Streak’ for a later stage. You’ll also notice that was a run-on sentence. I’m not perfect.)

Just to be clear, this is my list of punk for people to start with. For one, I only included mainstream bands. Reason for this is that they can afford to have good recordings. Nothing turns people off punk like the bad recording of early punk. If all you’ve heard all your life is top fourty hits with gleaming, soapy clean production then ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ is a bit jarring to hear. I’ve learned that from experience. Secondly I wanted recent stuff from bands still around and touring. There’s nothing worse than getting into an album to find out the band has been broken up for years. This kind of ruins the community aspect, not to mention being able to see a show. Also she gave me a list of stuff she likes which is all the mainstream stuff from the 90’s like Green Day, Blink 182 and funnily enough; AFI.

Here’s my message back to her:

Hey, sorry it took me so long. First of all instead of downloading each song you can probably find them and just stream them using Seeqpod. (http://www.seeqpod.com/)

So what you have there is the typical 90’s pop-punk list with the exception of AFI who used to be hardcore then went emo with Sing the Sorrow. I’ll do a few steps. First of all you want some mainstream sounding stuff with decent production as that’s what you’re used to. Lack of production can be a turn-off for people getting into punk. All early punk had lo-fi production that makes it hard for people to get into it.

Step one is recent punk with good production from mainstream bands:

Bad Religion: The Empire Strikes First

My absolute favorite hardcore album in years. It’s a better listen if you like politics and/or are a little left leaning. Anyways the songs are solid and the harmonies really elevate it from the pack.

Songs to download:

Los Angeles is Burning, Atheist Peace, Gods Love, Live Again (The Fall of Man).

Bad Religion: The Process of Belief

Another BR album. They’re my favorite band so that’s to be expected. This was their great comeback after a lackluster few albums.

Songs to download:

Sorrow, The Defence, Supersonic, Kyoto Now!

Bouncing Souls: The Gold Record

This is a lot more mature than their earlier stuff, with a good sound and decent songs.

Songs to download:

The Gold Song, Letter From Iraq, Lean on Sheena, Better Things.

Descendents: Cool To Be You

So you like blink-182? The Descendents wrote the rulebook that blink made succesful. Every pop-punk band listened to “Milo Goes To College” a hundred times before starting their own bands. This is their 2004 album. Again, picked for the production values so it’s not a hard listen.

Songs to download:

Nothing With You, ‘Merican, Cool To Be You, One More Day, Anchor Grill.

NOFX: They’ve Actually Gotten Worse Live!

If the Descendents are the grandaddies of pop-punk (and the Ramones are the godfather) then NOFX is the immature uncle. This is a recent live album but I picked it because it’s a good way to hear new and old stuff on one album and it’s also really funny.

Songs to download:

What’s The Matter With Parents Today?, The Longest Line, Stickin’ In My Eye, Murder The Government.

Rancid: Indestructible

If you’re getting into Rancid you should start with “And Out Come The Wolves” but this is a great album as well.

Songs to download:

Back Up Against the Wall, Fall Back Down, Memphis.

I’d like this list to be longer but that’s a good start for a night of downloading. Problem is I haven’t been looking for many newer bands. Everything I’ve listened to in the last few weeks has been from the 80’s or early 90’s. Some bands I’m saving for the second part which is older stuff from the 90’s leading a bit more into the hardcore end of things. I’m posting this on the blog though, so you’ll probably get some good advice there from stacy and others. That’s a good five bands to start with.

21 Responses to “A Punk Primer”

  1. Go me for inspiring this! I linked to you and am very excited to have a free second to download all this stuff. Thanks again!

  2. if you want to listen to true punk the new stuff is just not gonna cut it, sure it’s okay but that raw mangy sound is what punk needs, like the Slits recordings or whatever.
    I understand why you start off with new bands but you can’t go wrong with The Ramones or The Clash, and they’re not that hardcore.
    Operation Ivy, Negative Approach, Funeral Dress, Patti Smith, Fabulous Disaster are worth trying.

    So where’s the detailed punk post for those of us past the punk primer?

  3. Stacy: I reccomend levels because I’d hate for someone to be put off punk before they have a feel for it. I know if you’d played me some Kennedys or Slits when I was 13 I would have hated it. Its not always about the recording quality, its the abrasiveness that I’m trying to avoid. I wish I could remember who it was, but one of the early punks said a few years ago something along the lines of “the recordings sounded like s*** but thats because thats all we could afford. It wasnt intentional, and if we’d been able to afford it we’d have sounded better”. I like the quality of the 70’s and 80’s stuff but I don’t think everything should sound so lo-fi, especially not today when anyone can sound decent for cheap.

    Anyways, the original stuff like Clash, Ramones, X, The Stooges will all come at the last level.

  4. I actually remember reading that and I’m pretty sure Bad Religion said that when they were re-releasing their old stuff like 5 or 6 years ago.

  5. I like the list, but I would’ve started it off even simpler. Go with some Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. They’re recognizable songs but with a punkier sound. It’ll get the new listener used to the sound, then they can move on to your list.

  6. I wanted original stuff, they’re great but it’s all covers. On that note though, have you listened to ‘Greased’ by Less Than Jake? They redo the Greased soundtrack.

  7. Whaat?! I don’t know ANYTHING about the Frum Librarian, but just by the name I’m pretty surprised that you got an email from her asking for “advice on getting into punk”! It’s probably the most rebellious thing she ever did (judging, again, by her name!).

  8. And by the way- “Flyleaf”!!

  9. Flyleaf? Thats screamo. I’m not a fan. They sound like they’re trying to remake ‘Diary’. (The Sunny Day Real Estate album).

  10. fp – yeah, but that’s the point. just get them used to the sound with familiar lyrics. then move onto the original stuff. Of course I’ve heard “Greased” — not only was I an LTJ fan in high school, I was also a Grease fan in high school.

    lomo – though she may be a librarian, she is not a prude. You should read her blog some time.

  11. What about Black Flag, Husker Du, Ramones…

  12. Those are all for later stages. I said in the post how I’m organizing it and this first part is recent albums.

  13. Lomo- at least you have not figured out who I am. Not even rebellious at all by my standards…. (thanks Jess!)
    FP- I have downloaded everything and put it on my ipod so I can listen to it during my commute. Will send you an email as soon as I have something to say….

  14. Did you get the whole albums or just the songs I picked?

  15. Well since I put my husband in charge of downloading, he downloading everything, but I’m listening to your picks only for now. My music time is limited.

  16. These aren’t ancient, but I will add
    The Ramones: Mania
    Rollins Band: End of the Silence
    and CIV: Set Your Goals
    and Green Day: 1,039 (that’s what the album title starts with)

  17. Chris_B Says:

    “Lack of production can be a turn-off for people getting into punk.”

    Maybe people dont know that punk was all about Do It Yourself. I know I’m gonna sound like some old Punk Grandpa here, but punk in the 80s was all about the opposite of the studio system, we wanted to make our own music on our terms. Just having our own cassettes and records meant more to us than production quality. We set up our own studios in garages, setup our own labels and distribution, our own magazines, a little mirror of what the stadium rock people had but it was *ours*.

    I guess now more than 20 years on when major labels can release “punk” CDs and do major tour support, maybe things are different. Its hard for me to imagine getting into it now that its been productized. There are still bands out there doing it for themselves and from what I’ve heard, the music is still fun, energetic and raw!

    Here’s an odd recommendation, try an album by “Me First And The Gimme Gimmes”. They do covers of pop and rock standards in a fun way.

    Also, shame on you for advocating downloading! Us musicians have to eat too and not everyone can earn by touring all the time. Its bad for your health for one thing and takes us away from our loved ones for another.

    OK all that said, Frum Punk, can you tell me are there any jewish theme punk bands? Not just bands with jewish members, but singing about jewish subjects?

  18. Good points Chris. As for downloading, I advocate downloading songs not albums with the expectation that if you like what you hear you’ll buy the cd. I would never have heard most music I like if not for downloading. I’m not rich enough to hear about a band and then buy a $14 cd without having heard anything, that’s too much money to gamble on when you’ve got a list of bands to hear. Otherwise getting into a sound is a hundred dollar investment. Downloading lets you sample it all. Course, things are a bit different now that everyones gots a myspace with streaming songs. It was a bit different in my day.

    The only Jewish punk band singing Jewish songs I know of is Yidcore. http://www.myspace.com/yidcore Though the songs on their myspace arent the ones I’d reccomend to someone. Them and ‘The Brews’ from NOFX is it.

  19. Chris_B Says:

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve already got some Yidcore, they are fun. I’ll look for The Brews as well.

    I hear you about being young and on a limited budget, but please, is a little bit of theft still not theft? Im not gonna make a fight about it, my idea should be clear enough, just please think about it.

  20. ברוכים הבאים צי היימיש שמועסן איו טעלפון שמועסן זייט היימיש שעם זיך נישט

    Jewish Chat Room, Heimish Yiddish Phone ChatOwners:…Professor…Shaifeleh…BeNice…Jake…Dimp…Kingdavid… Moderators:…Stan…Josh…Nisht… Lovey


  21. dandymange Says:

    try these for size!!hellacopter’s supershitty to the max
    electric frankenstein-time is now and how to make a monster.
    new bomb turks: at ropes end , destroy oh boy
    zeke!!! : super sound racing, flat tracker,kicked in the teeth.
    baseball furies!!!:greater than ever
    didjits: full nelson reilly
    supersuckers:smoke of hell
    the humpers:euphoria,confusion,anger

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