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2021 Pop-Punk Infatuation

Updated: Dec 28, 2021

As I whittle down favorite albums, songs, and new discoveries for 2021, I came across the realization that my love for bands influenced in some way by post/pop-punk really connected with me this year. Here are my favorite 2021 songs from those bands.

"OK" (E) by the Tennis Courts. This is a great band and a fun song complete with classic distorted microphone (is that the Strokes?). The Charleston, SC band had several great songs in 2021 and should be blowing up in the future (check out Red Wine). People find this band!

“Moving Car” by The Avenues UK. This UK band needs to be imported to American radio, now! Brilliant guitars work here. From the compelling opening licks to the wall of sound that follows. The influence of the Strokes and Wombats is clear, but this band is so much more melodic. When The Knack and the Talking Heads broke out, they did so with music that also could be danced to in clubs. The Avenues have this element as well. Honestly, a top 4 favorite album in 2021 for me as well.

“Next to Me (Yo Guy Version)” (E) by Cheekface. What a perfect name for this fun-cheeky-kitsch band from Los Angeles. I love to play this song while driving and allowing the passenger to helplessly get sucked in and fall in love with this song and its quirky/creepy lyrics. The “f*%@ you” bridge reminds me of the paperboy riding his bicycle and demanding his two dollars in Savage Steve Holland’s movie “Better off Dead.” The band lists the genre of skate punk and the band The Talking Heads as influences. You can definitely hear that in their music.

“18 Cigarettes” by Ducks Ltd. This is as smooth as Canadian kindness. The Ontario band has great pop-punk guitar licks with harmonious pop vocals. This song is layered in every way. The guitars, keyboard, and vocals are layered, and the production has its fair share of reverb built in. But the mix works and this song is a great introduction to Ducks LTD. The good news is that this band is starting to get some recognition from indie-music platforms and is doing well on some of the college charts.

“Neutrogena Spektor” (E) Origami Angel. Thank you, Washington DC, for such a great pop-punk band. This band is by far the most streamed band on this list. The contrast between the dirty distorted layers of guitars and the fresh wholesome leads vocals is so incredibly unique. Maybe that’s why they backloaded this song with a full minute of hardcore punk after two minutes of absolute Origami Angel delight. I’m not a fan of the outro but the first two minutes represents everything the band does so well and I can’t hear it enough.

I do want to close with this note: These bands make me question music listening today. Why these songs haven’t exploded onto the American rock scene (sorry I forgot for a moment that there isn’t an American rock scene with new bands) and piled onto the radio airwaves and Sirius is beyond me. There have been times when bands like Green Day, Jimmy Eat World, Blink-182, and cheeky Bowling for Soup broke through and revitalized rock. It should happen again.


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