27. MxPx, 'Life in General' (1996)
Starting with their breakout skater anthem "Punk Rawk Show," MxPx became the rare Christian punk band that managed to cross over to the secular world. From its onset – "Emotion is my middle name," sings bassist-vocalist Mike Herrera on "Middlename" – Life In General is a West Coast classic, blending girl-crazy surf pop with spasmodic D-beats. Herrera regales a crush with sweet doo-wop reverie on "Do Your Feet Hurt?" and invokes Fifties soda-shoppe kitsch while scatting over a walking bass line on "Chick Magnet." Yet drummer Yuri Ruley and guitarist Tom Wisniewski make a formidable greaser gang, countering Herrera's lovesick Buddy Holly antics with Minor Threat–caliber blasts of energy. "It was very much so coming from a kid that was in youth group and had a certain set of friends and was taught certain things," said Herrera of the album in 2008. "I didn't really know a lot about the world I guess, you know? Fast-forward 16 years and it would be impossible for me to write like that. Politics are not doing too well right now and the economy is horrible, but MxPx has always been about turning it around, doing what we can in our own lives to press on." S.E.