Treble’s Top 100 Punk Albums

Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat50. The Velvet UndergroundWhite Light/White Heat
(1968; Verve)

Punk as a genre didn’t have a name until several years after The Velvet Underground came and went, though leaving them out of the conversation would be to overlook one of punk’s greatest (if not specifically intentional) architects. Their noisiest, rawest and most blown-out set of songs, 1968’s White Light/White Heat, is the album of theirs that sounds most like punk, its title track’s psychedelic garage a belligerent blast of sound and “I Heard Her Call My Name” as messy and screeching as they ever sounded. Yet it’s “Sister Ray” that represents their greatest contribution to the punk canon, 17 glorious minutes of noise, repetition and filth. – Jeff Terich

top 100 punk albums Suicidal Tendencies49. Suicidal TendenciesSuicidal Tendencies
(1983; Frontier)

Suicidal Tendencies perfected the skater-punk image. Their logo looks like something that was scratched in the wood of a skateboard. The urgency of every song poses a challenge to the listener: “keep up!” Mike Muir sounds like the introverted kid down the block who realized he finally had a voice. “Institutionalized” continues to be an anthem for misunderstood teens who just want a Pepsi. In retrospect, this self-titled debut has elements of the thrash sound that ST would eventually adopt, but in 1983, it was enough to get into the studio and capture the sound that any kid with a board heard in his head. – Chad Gorn

nation48. The Nation of UlyssesPlays Pretty for Baby
(1992; Dischord)

Before Ian Svenonius was writing books and getting featured in The Whitney biennial, his first claim to fame was Nation of Ulysses. Created by a collection of driven youths (there’s nothing more threatening than driven youths), Plays Pretty for Baby is frenetic and uncontrollable, openly referencing free-jazz progenorator Ornette Coleman. For a band that admits they hardly knew how to play their instruments, here is an album that is more an exercise in expression than a collection of music. Perhaps the process was more important than the result—simply put, Plays Pretty For Baby has earned its way onto any punk list. – Matt Perloff

top 100 punk albums Jawbreaker47. Jawbreaker24 Hour Revenge Therapy
(1994; Communion)

Some say it’s punk. Some say it’s emo. (It’s punk for the record). Above all, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is a damn near peerless effort, building off the lineage of bands like Dag Nasty to create a raucous pop punk bible. Produced by the venerable Steve Albini, this titanic album boasts a track arrangement that insures an A-Z listen. Blake Schwarzenbach’s gravelly voice leads anthemic choruses of ironic and snark fueled lyrics. This is the work that doesn’t just fuel your youth, but takes you back to a time where every line was one you lived through. – Brian Roesler

top 100 punk albums Fear46. FearThe Record
(1982; Slash)

The most primal of SoCal punk records contains some id-generated sentiment that might not be especially welcome in today’s environment (we can confirm your suspicions as to what “Beef Bologna” is about). And Fear might have effectively shot their wad on The Record, as you might expect from the fierce blood-rushing that dominates the album. But lead singer Lee Ving’s gymnastic vocal presence is the rare one that’s more assertive than the guitars that play beside it, and they’re pretty flammable. The blind fury behind “Let’s Have a War,” “I Don’t Care About You” and “I Love Livin’ in the City” might not be terribly eloquent, but it sure was accurate. – Paul Pearson

top 100 punk albums Crass45. CrassChrist the Album
(1982; Crass)

There are experimental albums, then there are EXPERIMENTAL albums. Christ is certainly the latter, as uniquely visual and codified by its inherent black and white aesthetic, its obsessive politicizing and adherence to lyrically what could be described as a righteous fury. This is an album from a collective troupe of artists and musicians that believe that punk can change the world around it. That music is the greatest way of reaching the masses. Passionate, desperate and revolutionary in its scope and sound, Christ is a challenging work that is disturbingly relevant in it’s themes and message. – Brian Roesler

Discharge - Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing44. DischargeHear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing
(1982; Clay)

It all has to start with Tezz Roberts’ D-beat drums, thrashing and clawing away at the cymbal. It’s the style that launched a thousand bands and even a handful of genres. If for no other reason Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing will be immortalized for that. The anarchist politics of the album set against Discharge’s distorted minimalist arrangements are what I think of when someone says punk. Hip hop has Illmatic, metal has Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4, and extreme music—noise, grindcore, black metal—has Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. This is biblical. – Wesley Whitacre

Against me top 50 albums of 201443. Against Me!Transgender Dysphoria Blues
(2014; Total Treble)

Against Me! seemed to alienate fans with every release post-Reinventing Axl Rose (and, in turn, attracted a very different crowd; see: New Wave, major label contracts) until the coming of Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Lead by the bravery of Laura Jane Grace and a renewed vigor, the sound manages to skew away from radio rock criticism and into something deeper and more meaningful. Seeing the outpouring support of fans both at shows and online, the importance these songs hold for some people, Transgender Dysphoria Blues has more than earned its recognition in punk’s canon. – Matt Perloff

dk-gimme42. Dead KennedysGive Me Convenience or Give Me Death
(1987; Alternative Tentacles)

The politics of San Francisco punks Dead Kennedys often preceded their music, and it wasn’t long before the band’s overt left leanings contributed to their own undoing. The group’s dissolution was catalyzed by an obscenity trial in the mid-’80s that focused on the dissemination of a lewd poster included in their 1985 album Frankenchrist. While Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death was released after their breakup in 1987, it’s more or less a collection of the Kennedys’ best songs, including first single “California Uber Alles” and hits “Holiday in Cambodia” and “I Fought the Law.” The live recording of “Pull My Strings,” played only once in 1980 in front of a gathering of industry types at the Bay Area Music Awards, is especially entertaining, as singer Jello Biafra stops 15 or so seconds in to deadpan, “We’re not a punk rock band, we’re a new wave band.” – Andy Barton

Sonic Youth albums rated Daydream Nation41. Sonic Youth Daydream Nation
(1988; Blast First)

Sonic Youth’s 1988 opus, Daydream Nation, serves as one of the best examples for what happens when you fuse underground punk rock discord with art-rock vision and exuberance. The zeitgeist double album—their last before going major—marked a noticeable improvement in songwriting for the band, who, per encouragement from friend and fellow punk Henry Rollins, spent a bulk of the writing process paring back extended full-band jams instead of working from the ground up with a melody or chord progression. This closer reflection of the band’s live sound offered up a raw, teeming energy, like on the breakneck second movement of “‘Cross the Breeze”’s intro section or the harsh squalls of noise on “Rain King.” Though their discography is vast, Daydream Nation stands as not only one of the most important Sonic Youth albums, but as one of the most important to punk and rock at large. – Andy Barton

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View Comments (12)
  • This is not the top 100 punk bands this is a joke you guys don’t know punk rock if it slapped you in the face some of the band’s are punk rock but most are not I have love that life for over 38 years And all my life I have ran into people like you on the streets get your facts straight green day is not punk iggy pop is not punk and over half of you bands are not punk so you should of called it too 100 rock bands so fuck off with this shit

  • Not much punk on this list. Treble is pretty close minded. Won’t touch the big boy punk bands. Didn’t even touch the punk band Big Boys. HAHA OH MAN.

  • Just when i thought metalheads were the close-minded…It turns out that title is already taken by the punk rednecks. Congrats, Pig Pen 😉

  • Ramones first album should be first. Most of punk was made off that album. Ramones are the founding fathers of punk

  • Disappointed to not see 7 Seconds somewhere on the list. The Crew and Walk Together, Rock Together were on pretty heavy rotation with many of the records.listed here.

    Was also hoping to see The Dead Milkmen, as it was the goofball entry point to punk for myself and many friends in the mid to late 80’s. Not the musically, or intellectually,
    challenging stuff but still had a noteworthy place in punk history

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