5) Poison The Well

Recommended songs: “Botchla,” “Crystal Lake,” “Pieces Of You In Me,” “12/23/1993,” “Nerdy”

Recommended albums: Opposite of December (1999), Tear From The Red (2002), You Come Before You (2003)

I was really fortunate that Poison The Well’s hometown was in South Florida. Growing up around their music and shows in my formative years really had a positive effect for me as a young, aspiring musician. This was actually one of the first bands I snuck out of my house to go see, and  after seeing them for the first time, I genuinely wished every show was like a Poison The Well show. The amount of energy and excitement in the air was hardly rivaled by any other band at the time.  At the show, I stood in the back and watched the crowd move like wild ocean waves as people stage dove, circle-pitted, moshed, and sang along. The videos on YouTube don’t even do their shows justice. I miss that period of my childhood a lot. This was one of the most innovative bands in the genre, both musically and lyrically.


4) Ted Leo and The Pharmacists

Recommended songs: “Me and Mia,” “Little Dawn,” “Criminal Piece,” “The Great Communicator”

Recommended albums: Hearts of Oak (2003), Shake The Sheets (2004)

My big middle school crush would constantly cycle through Ted Leo’s Shake The Sheets album on her Myspace profile and quote the lyrics on her Greatestjournal, to the point where I went and bought the actual record because it was all so damn good. In the midst of listening to so many heavy bands like Botch, Norma Jean, and The Bled, I would always come back to these two records. I highly recommend you give Shake The Sheets an honest listen—amazing lyrics, songwriting, and musicianship combined into one extremely catchy record.


3) Hopesfall

Recommended songs: “Icarus,” “The End of An Era,” “Dana Walker,” “Manipulate The Eclipse,” “Owl”

Recommended albums: No Wings To Speak Of (2001), The Satellite Years (2002), A Types (2004)

When I put on my headphones and hit play on the opening track “Andromeda” off of The Satellite Years in 2003, I did not expect to go on such an amazing musical journey. This is a band that I followed religiously throughout my youth, and to this day, still believe never got the credit they truly deserved. I will forever cite them as one of my biggest influences. Thanks to Hopesfall, I also found a deep appreciation for post rock bands, and found myself completely obsessed with delay and reverb pedals.


2) The Shins 

Recommended songs: “Kissing The Lipless,” “New Slang,” “Girl Inform Me,” “Saint Simon,” “So Says I” 

Recommended albums: Oh, Inverted World (2001), Chutes Too Narrow (2003)

Folks, I’m going to paint a picture for you. In 2004, I was most definitely considered an “emo kid.” No, not the mutation known as a “scene kid,” but rather a stereotypical breed that wore cardigans, read poetry, listened to artists like Hellogoodbye, Armor For Sleep, Tegan & Sara, and worshipped rom-coms like Garden State. The Shins, among many other artists, were introduced to me by a blogger I met through GreatestJournal. She would regularly send me music recommendations on AIM. The albums Chutes Too Narrow and Oh, Inverted World were exactly what I needed at the time, and I have her to thank. I still listen to both of those records to this day.


1) Stretch Arm Strong  

Recommended songs: “Means To An End,” “We Bleed,” “Second Chances,” “The Hardest Part”

Recommended albums: Rituals of Life (1999),  A Revolution Transmission (2001), Engage (2003)

This is the band that got me heavily involved in the underground hardcore punk scene, I first started with A Revolution Transmission in late 2002, and later discovered Rituals of Life thanks to Napster, all before I eagerly awaited for the release of Engage in 2003. This band was something I had never heard before at such a young age, especially compared to what was being played on MTV, Fuse, and VH1 at the time. Stretch Armstrong was a band that I listened to religiously during some of my most formative years. Even now I can listen to these records and remember exactly how I felt as a kid, and that’s why Stretch Armstrong will forever hold a special place in my heart. Their lyrical content really spoke to me during a very impressionable time in my life, and songs like “We Bleed” helped influence my outlook on the world.