Recently, the CoS staff got together and ranked the 100 best pop punk bands of all time. While there’s still some bickering around the office about placement (at least one of us is still smarting about Smoking Popes dropping into the low 50s), we took time out to put together a fresh list. While it certainly wasn’t all sweet and easy (there are still too many great songs released in a week to pick just 10), this one may have been just a little easier to rank. And who knows, we may wind up featuring some of these artists in a massive list down the road. Hopefully higher than 57.
10. Pillow Person – “Go Ahead”
Sarah Jones may be best known as a sometime member of Hot Chip, but she’s about to step out on her own in a big way. Her first single under the Pillow Person moniker, “Go Ahead”, features enough squelchy synths and clap-along polyrhythms to fill the dance floor, and her harmonized vocals will provide the heartbeat to keep it feeling majestic. Jones sounds a bit like Grimes vocally through the laid-back and grooving version. The “Go Ahead” single (with a B-side called “In My Game”) drops 8/19 via Moshi Moshi, but this song alone is worth speculating what a full Pillow Person album might sound like. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take long. —Adam Kivel
09. Valley Queen – “My Man”
At first, Valley Queen seems to be a moniker for Natalie Carol on single “My Man”, the frontwoman belting with cushioned tone at the heart of the band’s music. But that’s unfair to the rest of the group. Carol’s words find their place thanks to the slow, motivated rumble of the rhythm section and a careful guitar line, a hint of what’s to come with the single’s proper release, B-side included, on August 12th via Canvasclub. Don’t fault her for the lyrical content. It’s a topic many cover in music — realizing the dark truths and downsides of someone you love once you commit to the relationship — but Valley Queen punctuates with liberated acceptance and forward motion. “Show me how your lightning strikes/ Did it burn your eyes?/ I wanna see the scars,” she sings. It’s easy to compare Carol to Karen O or Grace Potter as she sings with a liquid drawl, elongating phrasing and punching up phrases so that they hit with the power and purity of a drunken stupor. If you’re looking for someone to save you from the murky depression of life, one listen to “My Man” will do the trick. —Nina Corcoran
08. Mothers – “Easy As Possible”
CoSigned Georgia act Mothers gained our attention from the first moment they shared a single. Once their debut album, When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired, dropped, it was impossible to ignore the quartet’s talent, particularly frontwoman Kristine Leschper. As they gear up to release a deluxe edition of that LP on July 29th, the band shared “Easy As Possible”, a scrapped track from those LP sessions that sees them at their most vulnerable. “They were just sort of these explorations that we were doing at home — they feel really intuitive and really special to me now,” Leschper told Interview about the bonus tracks. “Easy As Possible” makes that clear. It’s hushed and slow, moving at its own pace, as if to suggest there’s internal growth in each member of the band — and each listener. Mothers excel at fostering strength in the face of total fear, and, despite the name, “Easy As Possible” finds itself scraping together enough courage in the face of doubt to convince us all that sometimes, if you try, it’s possible after all. —Nina Corcoran