Hi, I’m Max and I play in a punk rock band called Captain Asshole from Munich, Germany. When Marie asked me if I wanted to write this list, I was immediately stoked because I love reading lists like this one and never had the chance to publish one myself. I also knew that half of the list I could write immediately off the top of my head, but the other half would be tough. In the end, this list became a mix of my favorite albums, but also stuff that I rarely listen to anymore but was a huge influence in getting me where I am today. Every release is at least 3 years old as I feel I don’t know yet about the lasting appeal of newer stuff. There’s also not a lot of older stuff because apparently, I don’t care about the classics. And while Marie told me that it doesn’t have to be exclusively punk it pretty much ended up being exactly that because I am boring and don’t listen much to anything else. Anyway, here we go:
- Chumped – Teenage Retirement
I really struggled with adding the last one to the top 10. There are a million great records, but it was hard to think of another one that I love as much as those other 9. Chumped comes very close to this. Anika has a beautiful voice and Drew plays some of the coolest lead guitar parts. It’s a real bummer that this band broke up, they’d be huge by now otherwise. I’m very glad that I got to see them once.
Favorite Song: Hot 97 Summer Jam
- Bomb The Music Industry! – Scrambles
I have a tattoo of this band on me so they should probably make the list. All their albums were always downloadable for pay what you want on Quote Unquote Records but for some weird reason I only had half of them for the longest time and this was easily the most played one. It’s also the one where BTMI! really became a band and not just Jeff with whoever is available. I feel like this band doesn’t have a lot of middle ground, you either love them or are very much annoyed by the chaotic nature of them, but I’m absolutely in group one.
Fun fact about BTMI!: I went to New York in summer 2015 and by coincidence this was the week the BTMI! documentary “Never Get Tired” was released. Three out of the five members were covering a handful of Green Day songs at the after-show party, I sadly never got to see them live playing their own songs though.
Favorite Song: Stuff That I Like
- Cold Wrecks – Breaking
It feels a bit weird to include friends on this list but then again… they were one of the main factors for me to start playing music again, so this spot is well deserved. It probably helps that they are ridiculously talented, and this album is burned into my brain. I first heard parts of it when I went to New York and stayed with them even though I technically didn’t know them at this point (Vizzi and I were Internet friends for the longest time). Now I have a Fest tattoo that is also a Cold Wrecks tattoo.
Bonus: they made me aware that Jesse Cannon does fantastic work at great rates and he ended up mixing and mastering our debut album What An Awful Life.
Favorite Songs: Letters and Friends (They have two vocalists, so they get two)
- The Copyrights – Learn The Hard Way
Spotify told me that surprisingly, they are my band of the decade. I knew they’d be up there in the top five or something because I’m a sucker for catchy pop punk, but the band I imagined would actually be on the top spot comes later on in this list. For quite some time this was for whatever reason the only album by them I owned so I know it in and out. It’s not a groundbreaking album in any way, but it does what it does so extremely well that it doesn’t need to be.
Fun fact: The Copyrights are the only band I’ve seen at every Fest I’ve been to so far (15, 16, 17, 18), most times twice. I truly hope I can keep that tradition up.
Favorite Song: Sleepwalker
- Rancid – …And Out Come The Wolves
If there’s a Rancid album on this list, I guess it’s no surprise that it is this one. It has all their hits. This really is the soundtrack of my youth and in contrast to other bands like NOFX, I can still listen to Rancid every now and then. There’s no other band out there that can make a 50-minute, 19‑song punk record and every single song is good.
Favorite Song: Roots Radicals
- Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against the Machine
This band made me want to play music in the first place and got me to be interested in politics at the young age of… 13 or something like that? I always knew I’d never be as good as Tom Morello (and well, I turned out to become a bass player so there’s that…), but I knew I had to start somewhere. I don’t really listen to Rage Against The Machine anymore but for nostalgic reason, this album deserves a spot on this list. This is the first of two bands on this list I got into because of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2.
Fun fact: Zack de la Rocha is the reason I was very dumb as a teenager and got dreadlocks.
Favorite Song: Freedom
- Millencolin – Pennybridge Pioneers
This is the album that made me get into punk rock along with the German band Donots. At one point in my life I knew every single line on this album and even though I’ve been listening to them less and less, I probably could sing along to most of it just fine. Now that my English is a lot better, I’ve realized that all their lyrics are super goofy, but hey, it’s not their native language as well. This is the other band on this list I got into because of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2.
Fun Fact: The first time I saw them live I also saw my favorite band live. Of course, I didn’t know them back then and couldn’t care less.
Favorite Song: Fox
- Dear Landlord – Dream Homes
This album is what straight catchy pop punk should sound like to me. I’m a sucker for multiple singers, gruff vocals and songs around the 2-minute mark. It’s the way I initially visioned my band to sound like when I started to play music again. It’s really sad that there’s just one Dear Landlord full length, but that one is a perfect record.
Favorite Song: High Fives (but this album is a banger from start to finish)
- The Menzingers – Chamberlain Waits
I’ve been following The Menzingers since Hold On, Dodge came out. They really blew up with the album On The Impossible Past and everyone claims it’s their best, but in my opinion, Chamberlain Waits is still their masterpiece. Back then I saw them play a tiny 100-person room, now they fill out venues ten times the capacity. There are very few bands who have worked this hard to earn their success and there’s no other where I was actually able to observe their growth. Still I’m kind of bummed that they don’t play any of those songs that shaped them live anymore. Maybe now that it’s the 10th anniversary of this album’s release?
Favorite Song: I Was Born
- The Lawrence Arms – Oh! Calcutta!
Anyone who knows me knew that this would come. The Lawrence Arms are my favorite band. I have a tattoo of them on me. I flew to Chicago just to see them (well at least it was three nights in a row for War on X-Mas). I’ve made friends around the world on the Internet through them, most of them I’ve met by now. And this is easily the best album by the best band. It’s not just great songs, it is also flawlessly produced and sounds perfect without being over polished. There could probably be more than one Lawrence Arms album on this list, but I limited myself to one release per band.
Favorite Song: Like A Record Player
Honorable mentions: the top 6 of this list will likely be in my all-time top 10 for the foreseeable future. The rest of the list could however on another day include any of these bands/albums: Pup, Against Me!, MakeWar, Direct Hit!, The Falcon, RVIVR, The Holy Mess and maybe even something by the Misfits as their songs are the first ones I learned to play and they have a special place in my heart even though Danzig is trash.