Crate Digging is a recurring feature in which we take a deep dive into a genre and turn up several albums all music fans should know about. For this special edition of the series, we usher in Punk Week with a list of can’t-miss debut albums in the genre. And for a T-shirt every punk fan should own, check out our new “Punk Is Dead, Long Live Punk!” tee at the Consequence Shop.
You only make your first record once, and for most bands, there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to make a second. That’s why the best debut albums lay everything on the table and leave nothing to chance. Sometimes music is best made outside the spotlight, absent of any outside pressure to produce hit singles or play to type. When largely ignored by the eyes of the rest of the world, bands have infinite power to catch listeners by surprise. Sometimes they can change the world and the scores of bands, songs, and records that are made in their wake.
But while every genre boasts its share of incendiary debuts, a staggering number of punk bands have made indelible marks on the musical landscape with their first records. The music’s natural energy and aggression have always given punk an intoxicating if wayward allure, like a sugar rush for the ears. But there’s also a fearless, go-for-broke attitude that propels the genre’s best records, many of which were written by those relegated to society’s narrow margins.
From England to the US, legendary powerhouses to underground heroes, if you’re looking for the best punk debuts of all time, we’ve got you covered. The records outlined on this list span geography, era, color, and gender. They were crafted by people of different backgrounds set against different cultural backdrops. And yet they share some important commonalities, namely an indifference to rules and expectations and a bone-bred instinct to provoke and incite.
— Ryan Bray