This week punk website beardedpunk.com released a new compilation featuring forty of the best punk bands on the planet. I obviously downloaded it and absolutely loved it. Then it got me thinking about compilations, playlists and how much I enjoy making them. I can spend hours carefully picking the perfect song and theme for one. I also thought about how many of my favourite bands I discovered through various compilation CD’s when I was younger. Before the days of Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Bandcamp or any other internet social media page you mostly found out about new bands by either going to shows or buying compilations. For me and many others the best ones were Fat Wreck Chords Fat Music CD’s or Epitaph Records Punk-O-Rama series. Though these records I discovered bands like The Bouncing Souls, Dropkick Murphys, Mad Caddies and Lagwagon. Even today I think one of the best ways to discover your new favourite band is on a comp. I decided to make one myself, showcasing the best in underground UK punk rock. Here are the songs I picked.
1. Above Them – Keep Smiling from Blueprint From A Better Time
This song by Yorkshire based punks is about not backing down and staying positive despite everything. It’s incredibly catchy and will be stuck in your head for days.
2. Apologies, I Have None – 100 Club from Two Strings and Six Strings
London’s Apologies, I Have None are a band that have gone for a two chaps playing acoustic guitars to a full on punk rock band other the years. This song, released in 2009 is one of their earlier efforts and is about going to gigs. I love the lyric “tonight I’ll sing along with my favourite songs and for a moment feel saved in six strings and drums.”
3. bad ideas – One Seven Two from Murder Of The Gods
bad ideas are an indie punk band from Leeds. One Seven Two is a laidback poppy song similar to New Jerseys Saves The Day. One Seven Two is about missing good times from the past.
4. Bangers – Straight Gin Makes You Batshit Crazy from Dude Trips
Cornwall’s Bangers are a three piece straight up no nonsense punk band and one of the most exciting in the scene. Front man Roo Pescod has one of the most unique voices around. Straight Gin Makes You Batshit Crazy is a fist pumping anthem about always being wanting to keep partying and not slowing down.
5. Bear Trade – Bleedin’ Heart Trouble from Blood and Sand
Bear Trade are a four piece from the North of England. They recently put out Blood and Sand on Everything Sucks Music.
6. Caves – I Don’t Care, I Don’t Care from Betterment
Bristols Caves are a three piece band with duo male and female vocals. Their latest album Betterment came out on Specialist Subject Records in 2013. I Don’t Care, I Don’t care is one of my favourite songs off of the album, I like the fast frantic nature of it.
7. Chewing On Tinfoil – Forty Shades Of Grey from Shaving
Chewing On Tinfoil are a five piece from Dublin. (Yes I know Dublin isn’t in the UK but this a great song). The ska tinged Forty Shades of Grey is about picking yourself up when people try and knock you down. I love the lyrics in the chorus “we have all been down, that’s the way life is, we have all worn frowns instead of smiling kid, we have all been down but we’ll get up again, not all kings wear crowns, at least you have your friends.”
8. The Dauntless Elite – I Am A Ninja, My Life Is Lonely and Difficult from Graft/Security
Another band from Leeds, The Dauntless Elite play rough and ready punk rock inspired by bands such as Snuff, Dillinger Four and American Steel. There is lots of gravelly voiced singing and plenty of gang vocals in this one.
9. Demon Smiles – SOS from Burn It To The Ground
Demon Smiles are a female fronted three piece pop punk band from Brighton. Lead singer Cat Goodman has one of the strongest voices in punk at the moment. SOS is fantastic song about being disenchanted with how the punk rock scene has become and taking it back.
10. Dropthis – Exploit Me from Spitting Feathers
Dropthis are a fresh and fun hardcore punk band from Kent. The opening to Exploit Me really caught my attention when I first heard it, it sounds a bit like a cross between Bad Religion and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Definitely not a bad thing.
11. Ducking Punches – Big Brown Pills From Lynn from Dance Before You Sleep
Five piece folk punk band Ducking Punches are from Norwich. Having supported Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls in Europe this year they released their second album Dance Before You Sleep to many positive reviews. Big Brown Pills From Lynn is a catchy song about living life too excessively.
12. Dynamite Dynamite – Two Sticks And Rage from It’s Only Breathing
From Scunthorpe, melodic punk band Dynamite Dynamite recently put out It’s Only Breathing on 13 Stitches Records. On this track the influence of Oklahoma punk rockers Red City Radio is very apparent.
13. Eat Defeat – Faithbreaker from Challenges
Another band from Yorkshire (I hadn’t realised just how many great bands come from there) Eat Defeat play fun and fast punk rock. Faithbreaker displays some fantastic gang vocals and harmonies as well as having a stupidly catchy chorus. The song itself is about people with different beliefs coming together for one common goal.
14. Gnarwolves – Limerence from Chronicles Of Gnarnia
Gnarwolves are without a doubt the biggest band coming out of the UK underground punk scene. With a slot on the Reading and Leeds main stages in a couple of week’s things just get bigger and bigger for the Brighton three piece.
15. Great Cynics – Letting Go from Like I Belong
Great Cynics are an indie pop punk band from London and are another of the fastest rising bands in the country. Letting Go is a sing along song about not sweating on the issues. The chorus of “nothing ever matters, if you don’t let it matter, so I tell myself it’s true, I never thought I’d do half the things I do, but I won’t let it get me down” is almost therapeutic.
16. A Great Notion – Friends & Foundations from Possibilities...
Peterborough folk punk band A Great Notion formed in 2010. They sing honest songs from the heart about good times and friends. Friends & Foundations is a song about remembering where you came from. A great laid back song.
17. The Hook Line Riot – Calling All Cobras from Sirens
The Hook Line Riot are a band containing members of early 2000’s P-Rock heroes 4ft Fingers. This is honest punk rock with plenty of heart. This is a very mature version on punk music and older fans of the genre will love it.
18. Leagues Apart – Rampant Horse is Rampant from Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
Leagues Apart are a four piece punk band from Manchester who utilize three different singers. They play catchy gruff punk rock. This song is my favourite from their debut album Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and the chorus of “we look like shit and we march like saints” will get stuck in your head for days.
19. Luke Godwin – Let’s Walk Away from Brand New Lands
Luke Godwin is a singer/songwriter who also plays in the band Break-Ups. His solo album Brand New Lands (where he plays almost every instrument) is full of fantastic songs. My favourite being Let’s Walk Away, a song about struggling to live in your own skin.
20. Mike TV – 90’s Teenager from Sausage Hospital
Mike TV are one of the finest pop punk bands in the country and are heavily influenced by 90’s Lookout Records punk. In lead singer and bass player Domb they have one of the finest songwriters around whether the subject matter is light hearted or serious. 90’s Teenager is about being educated by your music collection rather than at school.
21. Moose Blood – Bukowski from Moving Home
Canterbury emo band Moose Blood are about to blow up with debut album I’ll Keep You In Mind From Time To Time soon to be released on USA label No Sleep Records. Bukowski showcase what Moose Blood are all about, energetic guitar-driven songs with plenty or harmonies and lyrics you can relate to.
22. Müg – Pop Isn’t A Dirty Word from Stacked
London skate punks Müg are the undergrounds best kept secret. Clearly influenced by 90’s punk rock they play fast and technical punk songs. I like the singing structure on Pop Isn’t A Dirty Word. It’s 100% pop but it drives the song on words, even if the words don’t stay in your head the melody will.
23. Muncie Girls – Kasper and Randow from Revolution Summer
Muncie Girls are a indie pop punk band from Exeter. With a bit more exposure Muncie Girls could be massive as they are extremely accessible. There is enough punk in them to keep the punk police at bay but they also have enough pop in them to grab the attention of people who would normally shy away from punk music. Kasper and Rainbow is a song about getting to that point in your life where you are supposed to choose how you live your life and fighting it. Something everyone can relate to.
24. The Murderburgers – All My Best Friends Are Dying from These Are Only Problems
The Murderburgers are a pop punk band from Scotland. This Ramones-core band have now released five full length albums, the latest, These Are Only Problems was released on Mike Parks Asian Man Records. All My Best FriendsAre Dying is a sombre tale worrying about a friend who is stuck in a bad place.
25. Officer Down – Open Waters from Dead Lands
Officer Down are a melodic punk/hardcore band from Evesham signed to TNS Records. I only recently discovered Officer Down when I saw they were supporting The Flatliners at The Underworld in August. I had a listen and loved what I heard. Open Waters is an aggressive sounding song but the vocals and backups are spot on and the chorus is extremely catchy.
26. ONSIND – Mildred from Mildred, Margie, Annie and Clarice
I absolutely adore ONSIND, there isn’t one song of theirs that I haven even a little bit of dislike for and could happily watch them play live every day for the rest of my life. Mildred is an acoustic pop song about being on being depressed and being on medication because of that and having great friends to talk to.
27. Pacer – Be A Man from Making Plans
Be A Man is an massive anthem from London punks Pacer (not huge in length, it’s only 1:27 long). As the title suggest it’s a song questioning what it takes to be a man. The verse is fast a furious and the chorus of “what does it take to be a man? thought I knew once but I still don’t understand, the destinations out in front of me, how I get there is a mystery” really hits the nail on the head
28. Question The Mark – Bottoms Up! from Smoke Signals
Welsh bearded punks Question The Mark are a really underrated band. Bottoms Up is a song about as you might guess, drinking. It’s about drinking too much and hitting rock bottom. The song is well structured, its raw sounding and has a great fist in the air quality about it.
29. Rivalries – Built To Last from Out Of Town and Back Again
Rivalries (not to be confused by a band from Melbourne with the same name) are a pop punk band from London. Built To Last is an upbeat song about loving where you are in your life. There are some brilliant harmonies towards the end of the song.
30. River Jumpers – Heartstrong from Words, Chords and Irony
River Jumpers are another first class pop punk band from Brighton. The song Heartstrong is somewhat inspiring. It’s a song about going after the things you love and believe in no matter the what the consequences could be.
31. Rob Lynch – Hawking
Rob Lynch is a man who is going to be huge soon. Having just spent the entire summer on the Vans Warped Tour in America he is just about to release his debut album All These Nights In Bars Will Somehow Save My Soul on Xtra Mile Recordings (home of a certain other singer/songwriter named Frank). His honest acoustic pop punk will put a smile on your face and have you singing as loudly as you can.
32. The Rocco Lampones – Bottle It from Everybody Hates
Fast, furious and fun punk rock is the name of the game for The Rocco Lampones. Channelling the spirit of influences such as NOFX, Screeching Weasel, The Lawrence Arms and Descendents each Rocco Lampones song hits you like a brick in the face, except it’s fantastic.
33. The Roughneck Riot – Million Miles from This Is Our Day
Celtic punk band The Roughneck Riot are from Warrington and have just signed to TNS Records. Street Dogs front man Mike McColgan once described them as the best band in the UK, big words from a legend of the punk rock world. Incorporating a mandolin, banjo and accordion in their sound, The Roughneck Riot stand out from many of their contemporaries in the scene.
34. Sam Russo – Letting Go from Storm
Haverhill singer/songwriter Sam Russo has been getting lots of attention from both sides of the Atlantic. His heart on your sleeve acoustic songs have earned him a massive fan base and has even put out split CDs with punk heavyweights Chuck Ragan and Brendan Kelly.
35. Smokey Bastard – Aspirations, I Have Some from Tales From The Wasteland
Smokey Bastard are an incredibly unique band. On their Facebook page they classify themselves as a folk punk band, which is a fair generalisation as they have banjos, mandolins and accordions in their band but they are so much more. Tales From The Wasteland is a very varied album. Aspirations, I Have Some is up there with my all time favourite songs. It starts off quickly with some buzz saw guitars and some raw vocals, and then halfway through the tempo changes and goes into one of the best sing along break downs I’ve ever heard.
36. WEGROWBEARDS – Jesse Runs from The Americas
Another wonderfully unique band are Dorkings WEGROWBEARDS. It’s pretty standard gruff punk rock the subject matter is solely about famous events in history. Punk rock you can learn from!
37. Woahnows – Low Mach from The Joy Disorder
Woahnows are an indie punk band from Plymouth. Another highly energetic sounding band with huge potential. The guitar riffs are exciting, the bass is pounding yet intricate and the drumming is precise. All of this combined with some smart lyrics and great harmonies and you have a very good band.
38. Wonk Unit – Go Easy from Nervous Racehorse
Wonk Unit are another very unique band, they play punk but not as you know it. They somehow, by luck or on purpose have managed to create a sound all of their own. One thing is for sure though, Wonk Unit are all about having fun, everybody loves having fun!
39. Zatopeks – The Summer I Fell In Love With Jimmy’s Girl from Ain’t Nobody Left But Us
The Zatopeks are a pop punk band based in London, Bristol and Berlin. Influenced by Ramones style pop punk and 60’s pop the Zatopeks are great and telling stories within their songs. The Summer I Fell In Love With Jimmy’s Girl tells the story of two rival biker gangs and how the leader of one gang fell in love with the girl of the other gangs leader. There aren’t many pop punk bands who can go with a concept like this and make it work, but the Zatopeks manage it all down to some great song writing.