A few days ago, I was reading a list that Alternative Press had made regarding ten great sophomore efforts that helped to define and/or solidify a band’s sound (you can read that list right here). Not that it was an awful list, per se, because they had some worthy mentions (Coheed and Cambria’s In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, New Found Glory’s self titled, Rise Against’s Revolutions Per Minute, Say Anything’s …Is a Real Boy), but considering they only allowed themselves ten options, it really felt as if they were missing a few. So I decided to take it upon myself to create my own list of second albums that were overlooked the first time. Think of it as a second list to second albums, if you will.
I’d also like to point out that, considering AP’s target audience, it felt a little forced to include Radiohead’s The Bends. C’mon AP, you put All Time Low on this list, you don’t need to impress anyone; let those Pitchfork readers think what they want.
But I digress. Here’s my response list to AP’s list:
10. Teenage Bottlerocket – Total
When Kody Templeman joined the ranks of Teenage Bottlerocket, it completely changed the game for the band. Their debut, Another Way, had its moments, showing strong song writing courtesy of the Carlisle brothers (Patrick, Senior Prom, Rebound), but by adding the former Lillingtons frontman to their line-up, Teenage Bottlerocket struck pop punk gold, writing short songs about zombies, aliens, murder, and metalheads. The formula hasn’t changed a bit ever since Total came out in 2007, and for Teenage Bottlerocket that’s a very good thing.
09. blink-182 – Dude Ranch
Some might argue that this was a turn for the worse, but there’s no denying that Dude Ranch is the album that defined the turning point in blink-182’s career from just another three piece from California to the superstars that they went on to become. Cheshire Cat had songs here and there with lyrics that hinted at the band’s take on humor, although Dude Ranch is what helped them to reach an entirely new level of exposure.
08. Get Up Kids – Something to Write Home About
I’m really surprised that AP left this one off their list. Every emo kid cites this album as a huge turning point in their life. Granted, The Get Up Kids were always trying something new with each album after being unwillingly turned into the saviors of emo (and even now they still do that), so I guess there is that to consider. But even with that in mind, when people think The Get Up Kids and their defining album, does anyone ever say anything other than Something to Write Home About?
07. Green Day – Kerplunk
I’m not even going to pretend that Kerplunk made a bigger splash than Dookie because I would just be plain wrong if I tried to argue that. That said, if it weren’t for Green Day’s sophomore effort I don’t think Dookie could have been possible. On the trio’s first album, the songs were finely crafted tunes, but there was something lacking in the distorted apathy that Green Day is so well known for. Kerplunk changed all that, and songs like Private Ale, One of My Lies, and Who Wrote Holden Caulfield? paved the way for the things to come.
06. Dopamines – Expect the Worst
The first Dopamines album was pretty good. Not bad by any means, and certainly enough to garner attention in the pop punk world. But Expect the Worst was such a huge step up that that it plays like a third album when compared to the first, and their recently released third album, Vices, sounds more like an appropriate sophomore effort. No, really. That’s how good it is.
05. Saves The Day – Through Being Cool
It’s no secret that Can’t Slow Down sounds like a Lifetime album- everyone says it, even the fans of that album. Through Being Cool reintroduced the New Jersey outfit as a more melodic, pop-based group, forever altering the course of pop punk history. While Chris Conley’s singing style may have changed drastically over the years, nearly every Saves the Day album has followed the same core foundations laid down on Through Being Cool.
04. Fake Problems – It’s Good to Be Alive
Being a folk punk band from Florida can be rough sometimes if you aren’t Against Me! (well, it’s even difficult for Against Me!, but for different reasons). But on Fake Problem’s debut, How Far Our Bodies Go, it was comparison after comparison to Against Me!, southern folky drawl and all. So when Fake Problems released It’s Good to Be Alive, it showed that the band was so much more than just “Against Me! Lite”. By taking their indie rock influences up a notch, and ditching the more acoustic elements, Fake Problems became their own folk punk force to be reckoned with. (It’s important to note that Against Me! also ditched the acoustic elements, but they took their direction toward the alternative rock sound).
03. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound
The Gaslight Anthem is one of those bands that has been making waves ever since their debut album, so in that aspect it’s a little weird to have them included on this list. However, regardless of the incredibly warm reception that Sink or Swim received by publications everywhere, it’s The ’59 Sound that really cemented the band stylistically, and you would be hard pressed to argue against that. Losing their rough edge in favor or a more mellow approach, The ’59 Sound skyrocketed The Gaslight Anthem in place as the hottest dad rock band that the kids could also love. Even two albums later, and the band hasn’t been able to shake all the jokes about “classic Cadillacs and Maria”.
02. The Lillingtons – Death by Television
Early on, it was clear that the Lillingtons knew that they wanted to play Ramones-inspired punk rock. Their debut, Shit Out of Luck, was a nice half hour collection of songs about girls and aliens that fit right at home with the rest of 90’s pop punk like Screeching Weasel and the Queers. Then something happened. The band shifted gears in their lyrical focus to heavily emphasize horror and sci-fi themes of the 1950’s. The result was Death by Television, a pop punk album that plays almost like an old B-movie. The Lillingtons recorded two more albums, both of which followed up with similar themes of the Red Scare and more aliens.
01. Weezer – Pinkerton
Technically speaking, the quirkiness of Weezer’s first self titled album, most commonly known as the Blue Album, really paved the way for what defines Weezer’s sound. The band’s more recent output (Red Album, Raditude, Hurley) follow that oddball sense of humor and characteristically silly lyrics that Blue had, regardless of whether the new albums have the same charm or not (most people would say “not”). But what album truly defines Weezer when discussing Weezer as an incredibly influential and amazing band? That’s easy: Pinkerton. While the Blue Album showed Rivers’ ability to write a fun pop song about being a loser, Pinkerton found him baring his soul to the world, hints of pedophilia notwithstanding (seriously, have you ever heard a creepier song than Across the Sea?). It may not has been the epic rock opera that it was intended to be, but Pinkerton still found a way to be the defining Weezer album.
And there you have it, my response to a list in Alternative Press. I hope it was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write. If there are any second albums that you think deserve a mentioning, and were overlooked by both AP and myself, let your voice be heard in the comments! (or keep them to yourself, your decision).
– Dustin (aka Annie’s Boobs) (aka BOBOBO)