Top 20 Punk Albums in History: 20-11
Those who say punk is dead tend to be those who wish punk were dead, either still somehow threatened by the culture or -- and this is more likely -- chagrined that punks don't give a shit what they think. Punk is, of course, very much alive in 2013, particularly in regions like Southern California. It also lives on through the below albums, punk's twenty greatest. Hey! Ho! Let's go!
20. Bad Brains
When Washington D.C.'s Bad Brains released their self-titled tape (it didn't come out on vinyl until later) it was the long awaited punk explosion, ignited originally by black rock pioneers like Death and Black Merda and fueled by late jazz fusion. HR and company "learned" punk from the Sex Pistols and other first wave punkers, but jackhammered the shit out of that whole scene with something newer and more furious. Punk does not get any more incensed than in "Pay to Cum."
--Paul T. Bradley
... And Out Came the Wolves (1995)
There's a reason that Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong writes songs for Pink and Gwen Stefani; He's a damn fine songwriter. From the opening blast of "Maxwell Murder" to the lazy oi pop of "The Way I Feel," every last note on ...And Out Came the Wolves is perfect. Along the way Armstrong pines for lost love ("Olympia, WA"), tells urban folk tales ("Junkie Man") and sings anthems to his stomping grounds ("Journey to the End of the East Bay"). This is more than just stiff-necked power chording; Armstrong crafts not just a series of beautifully nuanced rock classics, he makes a compelling documentary tale of the life of a young punk, a spiky-haired Born to Run, if you will. -Nicholas Pell
See also: The 20 Greatest Metal Albums in History
18. Richard Hell & The Voidoids
Blank Generation (1977)
The way he tells it in his recently released autobiography, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp, it was Richard Hell, and NOT the Sex Pistols, who begat punk's tattered sartorial aesthetic. True or not, Hell and the Voidoids were still a remarkably progressive band. Born of the CBGB scene during punk's first wave, Blank Generation is a loud, shambling, and cocksure record with giddy vocal hooks and lines like, "I was sayin' let me out of here before I was even born." It set the standard for punk nihilism.
Los Angeles (1980)
Musically, X's Los Angeles is no-wave in its aggressive crawling phase. But emotionally, it's the end of punk's adolescence -- its hormones have plateaued and it has started to realize that there are more proper things to be angry about than one's parents. (Although it's kind of weird that mom and dad kinda dug the Doors, and here's Ray Manzarek in the producer's chair.) The overall tone of the work is of being stuck in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate asphalt Los Angeles romper room of fucking, snorting, and rocking. When singer Exene Cervenka mewls about her shitty racist friend who can't handle that callow punk discord of our city in the 1970s on the title track, the rest of the album stays in that perfect orbit.
--Paul T. Bradley
See also: Exene's column for OC Weekly