I asked everyone that contributed to our “best of 2018” list to pick a key track from the album they wrote about and have compiled all of those tracks into a playlist on Apple Music and Spotify. Enjoy.
For many of us in our mid-to-early 30’s, the 2000’s were the heyday of pop-punk music. It felt like new and exciting bands were coming out all the time and the internet was just starting to become the place to discover and talk about this genre. The other day I tossed out a question on Twitter to see what bands people considered the most underrated from those early years.
The responses were great.
I pulled out the ones I saw the most often and created a playlist containing, roughly in order of how often I saw the band mentioned, songs from most of the artists.1 You can find that on Apple Music and Spotify.
If you’ve never heard some of these bands before or just want to drive down nostalgia boulevard, there’s a whole lot of early 2000’s pop-punk goodness here. I’m surprised how much of it actually holds up and I’m not surprised how many of these songs I knew every single word to. I aimed for a combination of the popular songs from the bands but defaulted to my personal favorites in a few places.
Then I repeat some of the artists because I wanted to include more than one song from some of the bands, but didn’t want to double up and ruin the flow. I tried to keep everything in the 1999-2005 range, and keep it in the “underrated” category, as much as possible. Let it be on the record that Blink-182 had one vote.↩
Earlier this week we unveiled our “In the Spotlight” feature with a bunch of artists we think are worthy of your time. In the feature we’ve got blurbs and “recommended if you like” hints to try and convince you to listen to the bands, but sometimes just having all the recommended tracks in a playlist to churn through is the way to go.
Following on the heels of our look at the best music released in 2017, we have compiled a list of the albums we are most looking forward to in 2018. We may not know what the year has in store for us, but at least we can be assured of some great music coming our way. A bunch of contributors have written up blurbs about the albums and artists we’re most excited about, and we’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to as well.
In 2014, Noah Gundersen released his first full-length album. The record in question, Ledges, was a masterclass in contemporary folk music, loaded with confessional lyrics, acoustic guitars, and fiddles. By all accounts, Gundersen seemed like a traditionalist.
In 2015, Gundersen quickly followed Ledges up with his sophomore LP, the spiritually fraught Carry the Ghost. It was still a folk album, but Noah was fleshing things out, adding fractious electric guitar and other elements of full band instrumentation into the mix. It was clearly the work of a young songwriter who was yearning to grow.
Between the fall of 2015 and the early winter of 2016, Gundersen did two tours in support of Carry the Ghost. The first was a full-band endeavor, presenting the songs on Ghost as they were meant to be heard. The second was a solo tour, where Gundersen played songs from both Ledges and Carry the Ghost on acoustic guitar, solo electric guitar, and piano. It was a stark, intimate presentation, and it showed off what made Gundersen so special: his vulnerable, fragile voice; his songs that could work well no matter how much he built them up or stripped them down; and his honest, forthright lyrics.
But something was wrong. Gundersen was having a crisis of faith—not the same crisis of religious faith he wrote about on Carry the Ghost, but a crisis of faith in his own art. When I saw Gundersen on the solo tour for Ghost, he was pointedly reserved. He bantered with the audience occasionally, but during the songs, his eyes were cast toward the floor or closed entirely. And at the end of the show, when a condescending moderator led a Q&A session and suggested that Gundersen was “so young” and “couldn’t have possibly experienced what he sang about in his songs,” Noah seemed at a loss for how to answer—at least politely. When the Q&A ended, Gundersen headed quickly for the stage door.
Will Hoge almost got the dream.
In 2015, the independent Nashville-based recording artist seemed poised to win the country music lottery. He and his band had been picked by a major radio conglomerate as a spotlight artist, to be introduced on a mass scale to radio listeners nationwide. Looking back now, Hoge says the slot was virtually a guarantee of a top 10 record in the country music sphere. “This is exactly what the program is for,” the radio group told him and his band: spotlighting new artists or independent acts and helping them find a home in the infamously commercialized world of country radio.
For Hoge, being picked as a next big thing was the realization of a long-held dream. He’d released his first record—as part of the band Spoonful—in 1997, before going solo with 2001’s Carousel. What followed was a series of well-liked and respected records that melded country, southern rock, and heartland rock into something that sounded like a twangier Springsteen. For 2003’s Blackbird on a Lonely Wire, Hoge got scooped up by Atlantic Records, but the album failed to take off and it was back to the independent musician game after that.
Still, Hoge kept trucking and was eventually rewarded for his persistence. In 2012, Eli Young Band recorded a version of “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” a song from Hoge’s 2009 record The Wreckage. The song was the opening track and second single from Eli Young Band’s Life at Best album, and it ultimately reached number one on the Billboard country chart. Suddenly armed with a number one song to his name, Hoge landed his 2013 track “Strong” in a widely syndicated ad campaign for Chevrolet Silverado. The song charted modestly on country radio, but it was enough to convince Hoge that if he really tried to play the game, he might just be able to make some magic happen.
This week we unveiled our “In the Spotlight” feature where we highlighted 50 bands we thought you needed to hear. In the feature we’ve got blurbs and “recommended if you like” hints to try and convince you to listen to the bands, but sometimes just having all the recommended tracks in a playlist to churn through is the way to go.
When the weather gets cold, there’s nothing I love more than curling up on the couch with a new book, hot chocolate, and some acoustic tracks as my soundtrack. So for this week’s playlist I decided to share the warmth and coziness by putting together a few of my favorite acoustic songs.
2016 was a helluva year for music and 2017 is shaping up to be pretty damn good as well. The world may be falling apart around us, but at least we have a little something to look forward to. I talked about the albums I was most anticipating on a recent episode of Encore, but I wanted to reach out to some of our contributors and see what albums they were looking forward to most as well.
All Get Out’s new album, Nobody Likes a Quitter, is now in stores. I recently had the chance to talk with frontman Nathan Hussey a little about the release. This interview is a little on the shorter side, as he and the band were readying themselves for their nationwide tour, but we talked about the writing of the album, some of the recurring themes, and the possibility of a solo album.
The end of Warped is always followed by an onslaught of fall tour announcements. This year felt even more nuts than usual and with so many bands hitting the road, it can be difficult to know where to begin diving in. So for this week’s playlist I decided to do the heavy lifting for you and preview eight of my must-see tours for this fall.
You can check out the full tracklist below, and stream the playlist now on Spotify.
For this week’s playlist I decided to celebrate some of the albums quietly turning 10 this year. The albums without anniversary tours, reissues, or major recognition. 2006 was a great year for music — it saw new releases from established acts like Yellowcard, Senses Fail, Brand New, Sugarcult, and debuts from bands like +44 (I’m still holding out for another album) and Cobra Starship (I will always love While the City Sleeps, We Rule The Streets).