This site is all about music. What’s good. What’s bad. What’s worth spending money on and what to avoid. With that I give you a ‘where to begin’ with punk music. Now, this is not a best of or top 10 list. No, this is for the uninitiated. Those drawn to the rebellious medium of punk music and do not know who is worth their time. Every band in this article is a good band to start with. This article will also focus on American punk. UK punk is for another time.

*Disclaimer: This is not a be all, end all “best of the best” post of punk bands. Everyone has their favorite. This is also not a history lesson on punk music. Head over to Wikipedia for that. This is merely a starting point for those interested in the genre. So lets start at “the beginning”…

  • Iggy & The Stooges
  • Iggy & The Stooges was pre-punk and helped pave the way for what punk music became. Forming around 1968, Iggy & The Stooges had this new found raw sound. This helped forge a path for punk music. Beyond just the rawness of the music Iggy and The Stooges created, there was also the power of their stage antics. Iggy himself would sometimes smear his bare chest with hamburger meat, cut himself with shards of glass, and flash his genitalia to the audience. The man had the punk attitude to go with the music. To this day, Iggy Pop maintains the same attitude.
  • Recommended songs:
  • Search & Destroy
  • I Wanna Be Your Dog
  • Raw Power
  • The Ramones
  • Forming around 1974, the Ramones are often attributed as the first punk rock band. They were never wildly popular but did achieve some commercial success during their time. They are considered much more influential today than they were back then. Musically the Ramones are fairly loud and fast for their time (a bit slower compared to today’s fast music). The band stuck with short, aggressive and simple songs. The Ramones drew on the sound that Iggy & The Stooges started. They were starting a music trend that was bucking the system and moving far away from the modern, overproduced pop sound of the time. The Ramones have influenced many of bands from Black Flag to the Foo Fighters. The Ramones are legendary.
  • Recommended songs:
  • I Wanna Be Sedated
  • Beat On The Brat
  • Blitzkrieg Bop
  • Black Flag
  • Black Flag is often considered to be the first hardcore punk band. A revolving door of members over the years including Keith Morris, Henry Rollins and Chuck Biscuits, Black Flag managed to hold onto their sound and style of aggression and rock noise. Most songs are short, fast and aggressive. Black Flag does however throw down some songs that are more melodic and complex. Some of them being instrumentals. During a time of 3 chord punk music, this was a bit different. Even with different singers over the years, the vocals are always loud and harsh. Morris and Rollins have become the most notable members of the band. Rollins went on to form Rollins Band while Morris founded the Circle Jerks.
  • Recommended songs:
  • Nervous Breakdown
  • Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
  • Revenge
  • Dead Kennedys
  • The Dead Kennedys are probably one of the most recognized punk bands. They have inspired and influenced many of todays heavier bands. Formed in 1978, they are considered pioneers in hardcore punk with their fast, aggressive sound and lead singer Jello Biafra’s frantic higher pitched singing and lyrics. Dead Kennedys created a uniqueness all their own. They were never afraid to challenge the mainstream and express political views over many issues. They were also often involved in some form of controversy dealing with things ranging from song titles such as “Too Drunk To Fuck” and using H.R. Giger’s artwork “Penis Landscape” as an album cover (which lead to an actual obscenity trial). Even the band name was considered provocative.
  • Recommend songs:
  • Holiday in Cambodia
  • California Über Alles
  • Police Truck
  • Minor Threat
  • Although the life span of Minor Threat was short lived, only lasting three years, they had a strong influence on hardcore punk music. The beauty of Minor Threat lies in their simplicity and message. Songs are fast, melodic and short. Often only being a minute or two in length. Unlike politically charged punk rock bands, the lyrics of Minor Threat tend to be more personal and intelligent. Their song “Straight Edge” about not ruining your life with drugs and alcohol eventually led to the straight edge movement.
  • Recommended songs:
  • Out of Step
  • Minor Threat
  • Straight Edge
  • The Misfits (1977-1983)
  • I have to start talking about The Misfits by saying, avoid anything new by them. From about post 1997 just do not listen to anything except for reissues of older stuff. Danzig is not part of the band. With Jerry Only now in the lead, the music is horrible, they have become far too campy and cliche, and he has plastered the Misfits logo on way too much merch. Misfits bobble heads? I mean, c’mon.

    Now, on to the good old Misfits. Forming around 1977 by Glenn Danzig, the Misfits made their mark by not only fast aggressive sound, but also using horror as a theme. With songs like “Die, Die My Darling” and “Halloween” they made the horror genre work in their favor. Even with horror based lyrics, the songs never come off as campy. Their sound is fast and with Danzig’s almost blues like howl at times, The Misfits wind up having a lot more rhythm with their agression than most punk bands. Adding to the punk like nature, production quality isn’t always top notch but that kind of adds to the appeal of their sound.

  • Recommended songs:
  • Bullet
  • Die, Die My Darling
  • Skulls
  • Bad Religion
  • Bad Religion is punk music with brains. Forming in 1979 while still in high school, the band drew influence from punk bands like The Ramones and Black Flag. They had a shaky start. First releasing a punk album, How Could Hell Be Any Worse? but then after that tried their hand at progressive rock. It didn’t work. Around 1988 they released Suffer and they were on their way to creating many great punk rock albums. Bad Religion often deals with political issues, religion, issues of self. Greg Graffin’s lyrics are always intelligent and articulant. Combine intelligent lyrics with speed and harmony and you have Bad Religion. Bad Religion trivia; Singer Greg Graffin holds a Ph.D. and still teaches classes at UCLA.
  • Recommended songs (there are tons but I’ll stick with three):
  • No Control
  • Land Of Competition
  • Do What You Want

So there you have it. A great starting point into punk rock. Start listening, start enjoying and if anyone tells you Green Day is punk rock, punch them in the f$#%ing throat.

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