A lot of things almost killed punk and emo in the late 90s and early 2000s, but nothing came quite as close as Drive-Thru Records. For a solid decade, the label was an unstoppable and unrivaled factory of wusscore mall rock, releasing album after album by interchangeable bands who combined the worst elements of pop punk, emo, and whatever that genre is where you sound like you just hit puberty.
Drive-Thru’s roster catered to an impressionable early teen audience who had just recently gotten over their obsession with Aaron Carter. Each band on the label seemed to spawn 10 even lamer copycat tweemo bands. It was like a perpetual motion machine, where the motion is shitting in your own ears.
If Drive-Thru’s audio assault on music wasn’t detrimental enough, the label’s distribution deal with Universal/MCA helped amplify their reach to the masses, like ripping a loud, wet fart into a megaphone. Drive-Thru bands started seeping into the mainstream, getting play on radio stations and network shows like The O.C., which was like if Fall Out Boy became a TV show.
Rating Drive-Thru’s releases is a daunting task that feels like choosing among your favorite hemorrhoids. So here is an attempt at ranking them, from worse to worst to really, really worst.
14. Senses Fail - From the Depths of Dreams
Amazingly, Senses Fail are in their twelfth year as a band and now feature Hot Water Music’s Jason Black on bass, which is like if Aaron Rodgers QBed for a pee wee football team. (I will now explain that comparison for Drive-Thru Records fans: Hot Water Music is a very good band and Aaron Rodgers is a professional football player. …Since some of you are still looking puzzled: Football is a sport.)
13. Something Corporate - Audioboxer
Drive-Thru released Something Corporate’s Audioboxer EP in 2001, proving what so many people had previously thought to be impossible: That mops could front popular bands. This album was a monumental step for ambitious mops everywhere.
12. The Starting Line - Say It Like You Mean It
In case you were one of the millions of teens who grew up on Drive-Thru bands and thought their songs were deep and profound, here’s some bad news: They weren’t. If you’re looking for something to revisit as proof, by all means, try the Starting Line on for size. The band once penned these extremely poetic lyrics: “I'm gonna tear your ass up like we just got married, And you're all mine now.” How’s that nostalgia holding up?
11. Listen to Bob Dylan: A Tribute
Perhaps in a moment of self-awareness and guilt for setting music back by a million years, Drive-Thru attempted to force music history down their fans’ throats with this very unsubtly titled Bob Dylan tribute album, featuring their more… uh, mature acts. It just beat out the original title, Listen to Music by Someone Without a Lip Ring, You Little Shits: A Tribute to a Musician Over the Age of 20.
10. Finch - What It Is to Burn
Not every band on Drive-Thru’s roster was horribly untalented at singing. Some were horribly untalented at screaming too.
9. I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business - S/T
This Early November side project probably would not have made this list of bad Drive-Thru releases, given that it has some semblance of actual emo. But come on. Get real with that band name, dude.
8. Houston Calls - The End of an Error
Much like the 23-year-old dude who still hangs out at the high school, this album lingered on at the tail-end of Drive Thru’s tenure. In fact, it was the final album the label put out, which Drive-Thru fans might not have heard about because by its release in 2008, they had already transitioned into MGMT and doing MDMA in college. But man, what an appropriate album title for Drive-Thru to go out on.
7. Allister - Last Stop Suburbia
Allister’s colorful bouncy font logo summed up their sound: Pop punk for toddlers.
6. New Found Glory - Nothing Gold Can Stay
A common misconception about this album is that it doesn’t blow goats, when in fact it blows goats very hard. Jordan Whatever His Last Name Was set the whiny-voiced tone for spikey-haired lip-ringed "pop punk" dudes for years to come. Although they did give the economy a boost, as this video spiked the sales of cargo shorts, studded belts, and chain wallets.
5. Midtown - Save the World, Lose the Girl
Unlike much of Drive-Thru’s catalog, Midtown was at least listenable. It just wasn’t an enjoyable listen.
4. Happy Holidays from Drive-Thru Records
In case you forgot, Drive-Thru put out a Christmas album. Two of them actually. Many kids received a copy along with a gift card to Hot Topic.
3. Self Against City - Telling Secrets to Strangers
Haircutcore at its finest.
2. Hidden in Plain View - Life in Dreaming
Hey, remember Hidden in Plain View? That was rhetorical since the dudes in this band probably don’t even remember Hidden in Plain View.
1. Hellogoodbye - Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! And More!
Some studio engineer must’ve heard the albums coming out of Drive-Thru and thought what everyone with ears had previously realized: None of these wimps can sing worth a damn. So he slapped some auto-tune on Hellogoodbye, blurring the line between emo rock and pop music, ushering in the end of times. For music anyway.
God, Dan Ozzi wishes he could hate these albums for the rest of his… Follow him on Twitter - @danozzi
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