Modern Baseball, Candy Hearts and more are setting new trends in power chords, mosh pits and angst.
Mixtapes -- the hook-laden collaboration of Ryan Rockwell and Maura Weaver -- formed in 2010 in Cincinnati, and after a year and a half, they'd already put out 48 songs over several releases and haven't changed their super-prolific ways since. The back catalogue of four full-lengths and many EPs may look intimidating, so start off with their most recent full-length, last year's "Ordinary Silence." It's perhaps the most radio-ready entity profiled in this list, a delicious swirl of energetic guitars and male-female vocal harmonies.
Technically speaking, these Philadelphia kids aren't exactly pop-punk (they're more of a lyric-driven brand of scrappy indie rock), but due to their fanbase, touring habits and overall association with the scene, it's impossible to keep them off this list. Their 2014 album "You're Gonna Miss It All" marked a huge improvement over their 2012 debut "Sports," and even managed to debut in the Billboard 200, at No. 97. Singer Brendan Lukens is a current college student (at the Philly-based Drexel University), and his ramblings on twenty-something nonsense should resonate with those who can relate, or at least remember.
Chicago's Real Friends are a pop-punk band who write lyrics every bit as earnest as their name would suggest. "I've got this lonely night and Jimmy Eat World," goes a line in "Skin Deep," a great representative of Real Friends' music (and their scene in general) with its anthemic chorus and yearning for lost teenage years. They've recently signed to Fearless Records (known for releasing Plain White T's, At the Drive-In and all those "Punk Goes…" cover albums) and will appear on the Warped Tour this summer.
If there's one band on this list major labels should be paying attention to, it's State Champs, an Albany, NY-based quintet with a knack for hooks. Virtually every up-and-coming pop-punk band admires New Found Glory, though few come as close to matching early-2000s-era NFG catchiness as these dudes. State Champs frontman Derek Discanio is one of the best challengers out there, though his vocals aren't studio-perfect enough to upset the purists. And guess what? Former NFG guitarist Steve Klein produced their 2013 album "The Finer Things."
Rochester, NY's Such Gold is a pop-punk band with heavier hardcore elements mixed into their melodic brew, bringing to mind influences like Lifetime and the Movielife. The quartet's 2012 debut album "Misadventures" (Razor & Tie) put this on full display, with plenty of mosh-friendly riffs and shout-along vocals. On May 1, they announced that they'll be heading into the studio to record their sophomore full-length very soon.
You Blew It!
You Blew It! are an intriguing pick, as they combine elements of the so-called "Emo Revival" to go along with pop-punk. This means they're cleverer with their guitars than your typical punk crew and on this year's fantastic "Keep Doing What You're Doing" album, they use the soft-to-loud dynamic for maximum emotional impact. To sweeten the deal, they're signed to Top Shelf Records, home of recent buzzy emo bands like A Great Big Pile of Leaves and (deep breath) The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die and come from Florida, home state of pop-punk forefathers like New Found Glory and Yellowcard. They also have a song on "Keep Doing What You're Doing" titled "Strong Island." It doesn't get much more pop-punk than that.