I was a clueless kid when I first discovered punk rock. I had heard the likes of Green Day, and The Offspring, but to me they were just rock bands - at most, alternative rock bands. I had no idea punk rock was even a thing.
If I look back, I would have been familiar with songs like Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones, or Rock The Casbah and Should I Stay Or Should I Go by The Clash - but that was solely because they were songs that I heard played at sporting events. I still had no clue what punk rock was.
That was until I first heard the song Teenage Politics by MXPX. I needed to find out more. What was this music? There were more bands like this?
I'd go on to buy Teenage Politics and as much MXPX music as I could find. I would also go on to notice this little logo in the bottom corner, on the backside of the CD. The logo said Tooth & Nail Records. Tell me more.
I was about to embark on a journey that wouldn't stop anytime soon. In fact, I'm still journeying towards that final destination. But, this little logo and the record label it represented, would take a bunch of my money and help build that obsession, over the years.
So, with that, let's get to the list. The Top 5 Tooth & Nail Punk Albums. But first, some rules. Any band that shows up on this list, can only have one album on the list. The albums represented must also be T&N releases - no co-releases with major labels, etc. Also, this list is bound to change soon after I post it.
Where do I even begin with this record? A side project of some pretty prominent T&N punk bands (MXPX, Slick Shoes, Ninety Pound Wuss). It's a fun record that receives a lot of comparisons to early pop punk bands like the Descendents, which is warranted. I remember the first time I heard this album, and the song Shut Up - how could Tooth & Nail release a record with such vulgar language on it ('pissed off'). In fact, this record could be looked at as T&N's first 'non-Christian' release for some of that. At least that's how my young mind looked at it. Not to be missed on this record is an early version of I'm OK You're OK which would go on to be a hit for MXPX, on their record Slowly Going The Way of the Buffalo a few years later. Standout songs include Lisa's Clean and Coke Song.
Listen to our interview with Steve Kravac, who produced this album, here.
I can remember the first time I heard this record. I had heard a few Craig's Brother songs on some compilations (Songs From The Penalty Box, etc.) but I had never really given the band much of a listen. That was until I had a roommate tell me how much he loved the record, and how most times he had it on in the car he wouldn't get out until songs were finished. He wouldn't sit there in his driveway, for the entire record, but he hated getting out in the middle of a song. So, I decided to check it out. This record gets a lot of comparisons to Lagwagon, which is fair due to the similar vocal stylings of Ted Bond and Joey Cape. But, I'd say Craig's Brother stand up on their own just as well. Insult To Injury and Lonely Girl have always stood out to me.
Dogwood is a band that could've potentially ended up on this list twice - if not, they're record More Than Conquerors would sit just outside of the top 5, for me. I don't know how many times I played this record, in my high school years. Josh Kemble is easily one of my favourite vocalists on Tooth & Nail, with this record cementing that status. Lyrically I also found this album refreshing. When most of their peers were singing about girls, at the time, I felt their lyrics were a little more challenging and inspiring. Standout tracks for me include Comes Crashing, and The Battle Of The Vs Them.
Listen to our interview with Josh Kemble, of Dogwood, here.
Sure, some of you may be wondering how I could pick Rusty over Burn Out. That's because it's the better record, and I've said that in the past. I don't know if you'll find a better debut record, on T&N, than this one. Especially for this period of the label. It's fast, it's technical in all the right places, and it's melodic. Burn Out is a darker album, but the production just doesn't hold up the same for me, as Rusty does. They are both great records, but this is the obvious pick for me. Standout tracks include Proved Me Wrong, and Fall.
Listen to our interview with Jeremiah Brown, and Jackson Mould, of Slick Shoes, here.
Listen to our interview with Joe Nixon, of Slick Shoes, here.
Before we get to number 1, I should probably mention some records that you could make an argument for being on this list.
Ghoti Hook - Banana Man: Ghoti Hook was always hindered by terrible production, and cheesy lyrics. Still some great songs on there though.
Huntingtons - Get Lost: Really you could put almost any Huntingtons record in this spot, they all sound so similar. They are a Ramones-core band, so good at what they do they were the backing band for Joey Ramone at one point.
Value Pac - Jalapeno: People will debate which Value Pac record was better, self-titled or Jalapeno. They're both great in their simple pop punk ways. Listen to our interview with Sean Humeston, of Value Pac, here.
Ninety Pound Wuss - Self-titled: This is a love it or hate it band, but I think this record was their most accessible before taking a bit of a left turn, into the weirder side of their sound on their later records.
The Dingees - Armageddon Massive: Technically this is a BEC Recordings release, so it can't make the list. This record is great, but it's a little all over the map between punk, ska and reggae to make this list. Still, so good. Listen to our interview with Ethan Luck, of The Dingees, here.
That brings us to number 1. After mentioning that MXPX was the band that introduced me to punk rock, and Tooth & Nail, is it any surprise they'd be number 1? Here's the caveat though, this isn't my favourite MXPX record - that belongs to Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo - but for this list, it is the best that meets the criteria. Buffalo was an A&M release, while Life In General was re-released by A&M it was originally a T&N release, so it wins. This is the record that really introduced MXPX to the world. It is also the record that put T&N over the top. Standout tracks include Doing Time, and Andrea.
Listen to our interview with producer Steve Kravac, here.
So there it is. The most definitive list in the history of Tooth & Nail. There are no arguments to be made. No other opinions that matter.
Actually, on second thought...this list is probably entirely inaccurate. What are your Top 5 Tooth & Nail Punk Albums?
For more Tooth & Nail reading, check out my Top 5 Tooth & Nail Post Hardcore Albums.