35. Pennywise, 'Unknown Road' (1993)
By 1993, SoCal pop-punk grandads Bad Religion were slowing down and diversifying their sound, and it was up to a new generation to carry the torch. With their unabashed social conscience and gift for speedy, melodic fist-pumpers, Hermosa Beach's Pennywise were natural successors. Their second full-length, Unknown Road, epitomizes a certain kind of Nineties West Coast pop-punk record, driven by skate-friendly, almost thrash-like riffage and clear-eyed post-adolescent optimism directly descended from Bad Brains' Positive Mental Attitude ethos. The L.A. riots–themed "CIty Is Burning," the anti-conformity rallying cry of the title track and the big-questions-asking "Dying to Know" all serve as a powerful reminder of pop-punk's most earnest chapter, before Green Day's rise nudged the genre in a goofier direction. "To some it can sound pedantic, as if we were preaching to people," frontman Jim Lindberg told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. "Although we're an easy target for cynics, I don't think there are enough bands out there on the positive tip." H.S.