DS Playlist: Seven Underrated Pop Punk Bands

Punk rock is a genre that contains many sub-genres… but some of those sub-genres also contain their own sub-genres.  Many of which are overlooked, miscategorized, or contain bands that are underappreciated. 

After seeing a few people’s take on what they think the best pop punk bands are, it was clear that the same bands made the same lists every time.  Some of the bands were obvious, some of them were headscratchers.  Some lists are hyper focused on one style of pop-punk… others compare bands that should never be in the same list together.

So, here are seven pop-punk bands who I think have been often overlooked throughout the years. Not all of them are the same style… there’s straight up pop punk, bubblegum, ramonescore, etc. However, as far as “scenes” go, I think if you viewed all of these styles on a Venn diagram there’d be a lot of overlap.  So in no particular order:

Before Jay went on to front The Spastic Hearts and later Jagger Holly and most recently Sweatpants Party, he was in Youngstown, Ohio based Johnie 3 who will always hold a special place in my heart.  They were much more than a band I played with and booked frequently.  They were also a band that created a nice little punk rock scene am hour and a half away from where I lived in Pittsburgh.  They did that by bringing bands to Youngstown that you would never expect to see there. Bands like The Queers and DeeCracks to name a few. Johnie 3 was also the total package. You could see them as lover boys or the bad boys of pop-punk depending on the subject matter of the songs they played. Johnie 3 was very important to the scene, yet they don’t come up in conversation like you’d expect.

Recommended Track: “Rollercoaster”

Teenage Bubblegums from Italy has been maturing their sound over the last ten years with each and every album they’ve released. This trio has a no nonsense, darker approach to pop-punk, which is much needed.  What they do so well is deliver self-described songs, no matter how darker in subject matter, in the catchiest way possible. 

Recommended Track: “Hard On Myself”

The Vapids

In my opinion, The Vapids are probably the best band slept on by even the biggest pop punk enthusiasts and purists.  My guess is it’s because they don’t bring your typical happy-go-lucky, loverboy songs about getting the girl or tongue in cheek subject matter in their writing.  These guys can get dark… and they have a no nonsense approach to pop-punk that’s in your face and very straightforward.  I can understand why that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but none-the-less this is a band that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Recommended Track: “In For The Kill”

Pop-punk trio Lipstick Homicide comes from Coralville, Iowa and plays an upbeat, gritty style of pop-punk that is truly addicting.  Each release is better and more polished than the last, though we haven’t seen a release from them since 2013.  As far as I can tell they’re still an active band at least as of 2021.  Out Utero is my favorite album from this band and it’s probably their best produced and poppy offering to date.  The album is put together seamlessly and the it leaves you wanting more.

Recommended Track: “This Time For Real”

Pansy Division are legends. Plain and simple.  It’s not that they’re not popular in multiple circles.  It’s not that they have a lack of followers or streams on any of their sites.  The reason this band is on the list is that they just don’t get mentioned enough in pop punk conversation.  Picking a song of choice was very difficult because as you can imagine, a great band that’s been around since 1991 has many classics to choose from.

Recommended Track: “Dick Of Death”

Rotores, from Brazil absolutely kills.  Staying true to the ramonescore and bubblegum styles and writing incredible songs that are both upbeat and catchy.  It’s unclear whether or not they’ll be making their way to the USA anytime soon, but if they do, be sure to catch them if you can.  They haven’t had a full album release since 2019 but have been casually dropping singles to buy themselves some time. Check them out!

Recommended Track: “She’s Gone”

The Headies are another amazing project from Dan and Todd of Tit Patrol fame, and I’m not at all surprised that they produced another awesome band. I didn’t think they were still active until a new release appeared and I found myself talking to them about a potential show in New Jersey before the pandemic.  I’m not sure when they formed, but I’m pretty sure it was during my favorite era of pop punk/ramonescore, which was in the 2010’s.  What I love about The Headies is they break the mold but still allow themselves to resemble pop-punk.  Their upbeat and sometime sporadic take on the genre is what makes them unique and comparable to Dan and Todd’s aforementioned previous band.  Like many of the acts on this list and in general, the production and song quality gets better and better with each release.  Hopefully these guys continue to get together to put out music, or perhaps release songs they might be sitting on!

Recommended Track: “Let’s Sit Around”

You know any other slept on or forgotten pop punk bands? Let us know and maybe we’ll add them to the list!

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