Right now, hardcore seems to be attracting more new fans than ever--or at least more than it has in decades--and part of that is because many bands in the genre's current generation are unafraid of incorporating catchy, genre-defying elements that widen the appeal of their music without sacrificing their integrity. It's a level of open-mindedness that's resulted in a lot of fresh, exciting new music, but it's not unprecedented. To quote Militarie Gun's Ian Shelton, bands like his own are "going towards the original intent of hardcore," when bands as musically diverse as the Minutemen, Bad Brains, and Hüsker Dü all played major roles in shaping the genre, "instead of this formulaic thing." One of the most prevalent trends in hardcore right now is blending the genre with alternative rock, and really it's just been a reminder that so much alternative rock came directly from hardcore in the first place. Minneapolis bands Hüsker Dü and The Replacements started out as hardcore bands before evolving into pioneering alternative rock bands on game-changing albums like Zen Arcade and Let It Be--both released in 1984. Black Flag helped write the blueprint for grunge on that same year's slower, sludgier My War. Bad Brains' 1986 album I Against I practically birthed alternative metal, and it's not possible to overstate the influence of their self-titled debut on alt-rock. Bands like those opened the doors for bands like the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, and eventually Nirvana to come in, take things even further, and kickstart a widespread musical evolution that we've never stopped feeling the effects of.

Hardcore/alt-rock crossover continued in various ways over the years--whether it was Quicksand or Shelter or AFI or Cave In or Title Fight--and right now there's a wealth of bands further exploring the connection between both styles of music, from Turnstile to recent Coachella performers Scowl to the aforementioned Militarie Gun. And not only is it happening a lot right now, it's happening in a lot of different ways. "Alternative rock" is a broad term, and right now there are great bands mixing hardcore with styles of alt-rock that range from grunge to shoegaze to power pop to jangle pop to Britpop and beyond. It's a very good time to be a fan of this stuff, and if you're looking for a good chunk of it in one place, we've put together a list of 13 songs that scratch the alt-rock/hardcore crossover itch in one way or another. There's even more where the songs on this list came from; as with just about any list, this is just a starting point.

Making any sub-subgenre-specific list like this also means making some tough calls about what truly fits the bill, and some of the stuff we left off for that reason includes Code Orange, Fiddlehead, Anxious, One Step Closer, Koyo, MSPAINT, and Taking Meds, but if you like the music on this list you'll probably like all of that stuff too.

Read on for the list, in alphabetical order...

Angel Du$t
loading...

Angel Du$t - "Very Aggressive"

You can't talk about the current hardcore scene without talking about the influence of Justice Tripp, whose work as the vocalist of Trapped Under Ice and Angel Du$t helped set the tone for so much of what is happening right now, and Justice himself continues to innovate as well. Since their formation in 2013, Angel Du$t (whose rotating lineup at times features multiple members of Turnstile) has been an outlet for Justice to challenge the boundaries of hardcore and sometimes push past them entirely. Records like 2014's A.D. and 2016's Rock the Fuck On Forever are hard-edged and aggressive, while more recent records like 2019's Pretty Buff and 2021's YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs found the band incorporating lighter sounds ranging from jangle pop to classic rock. On new single "Very Aggressive," they offer up a track that sounds like the culmination of everything they've ever done, with the driving charge of the earlier records and the breezier feel of the later ones, topped off by sweetly sung harmonies from Justice and Citizen's Mat Kerekes. It's not possible to sum up Angel Du$t with one song, but this track comes close.

Drug Church
loading...

Drug Church - "Million Miles of Fun"

"Maybe if I wrote all the music, we would sound like Minor Threat. Maybe if [the other members] decided solely on the direction of the band, we'd sound more like Goo Goo Dolls," Patrick Kindlon said in a 2019 interview with Revolver, before adding, "And I'm grateful that we didn't achieve either of those things." That dichotomy has basically defined Drug Church for their entire existence, and it's a big part of what makes them so interesting. Patrick is a hardcore vocalist through and through, but his bandmates love to write big, catchy rock riffs that would've dominated radio and MTV if they came out in the '90s or early 2000s. It makes for some of the most literal hardcore/alt-rock crossover, and also some of the best. Drug Church have big riffs for days, and Patrick is one of the most commanding vocalists right now in rock, punk, hardcore, or otherwise. It was hard to pick just one Drug Church song for this list, but the larger-than-life immediacy of "Million Miles of Fun" makes this a perfect contender.

Fleshwater
loading...

Fleshwater - "Foreign"

If I was picking the catchiest, most widely appealing song by Fleshwater--the grungy, shoegazy band with three members of Boston metalcore band Vein.fm and vocalist Marisa Shirar of Mirsy--I'd go with one of their recent singles, "Kiss the Ladder" or "The Razor's Apple," but those songs almost depart from Fleshwater's hardcore roots too much to warrant a spot on this list. On "Foreign," the closing track of Fleshwater's 2022 debut album We're Not Here To Be Loved, they find a thrilling middle ground between Vein's metalcore and Fleshwater's grunge-gaze. The climactic, five-minute song finds time for harsh screamed vocals, melodic clean-sung hooks, punchy rock riffs, post-rocky post-hardcore buildups, and more, and really shows how versatile these musicians are. Put this band next to anyone from The Smashing Pumpkins to Deftones to Converge and they'll fit in.

Glitterer
loading...

Glitterer - "Are You Sure?"

A major predecessor to the current hardcore/alt-rock crossover is Title Fight's 2012 landmark Floral Green, which found the band fusing their early Revelation Records influences with stuff like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and Nirvana. Title Fight have been on hiatus for five years, but 50% of the band--co-vocalist Ned Russin with his brother Ben Russin on drums--remain active with Glitterer, whose latest full-length Life Is Not A Lesson from 2021 captures some of that same Floral Green magic. This comes through loud and clear on "Are You Sure?," a dose of grungy, '90s-style, loud-quiet-loud rock that's as catchy as Ned's music has ever been, and still finds him sticking to the gravelly, gritty yells that made those early Title Fight records so iconic.

Gumm
loading...

Gumm - "Slogan Machine"

Chattanooga, TN's Gumm are one of the most up-and-coming bands on this list, but they've been stirring up a lot of buzz for their upcoming debut album for Convulse Records and it's not hard to see why. They've got a sound that kind of straddles the line between the aforementioned Drug Church, Touché Amoré's impassioned post-hardcore, and '80s/'90s Dischord, and that all comes through on their anthemic new single "Slogan Machine." It gives you it all--the big rock riffs, the gritty hardcore vocals, and the urge to dance and scream along.

High Vis blending
loading...

High Vis - "Talk For Hours"

From the ashes of such UK hardcore bands as Tremors and Dirty Money (the latter of whom have a 2008 split with the aforementioned Trapped Under Ice) rose High Vis, who formed in 2016 and started out in post-punk territory before exploring Britpop and baggy/Madchester influences on 2022's excellent Blending. Blending doesn't really sound like a hardcore album, but High Vis still tear it up with very rowdy sets at hardcore festivals like Outbreak Fest, and the gritty attack of their past still comes through in songs like "Talk For Hours." If you've ever asked yourself "what if Stone Roses were a hardcore band?", this song has some answers.

Initiate
loading...

Initiate - "The Surface"

Initiate's recently-released sophomore album Cerebral Circus defies easy categorization at every turn. It's got big, chunky alt-rock guitars that would fit on a Smashing Pumpkins record, moments of heart-on-sleeve post-hardcore that sit nicely next to Touché Amoré, the chuggy aggression of '90s metallic hardcore, shoegazy textures, and more. On "The Surface," they open with punchy chords that hearken back to the height of '90s grunge-punk, before Crystal Pak's piercing, throat-shredding screams take things in a much harder direction. But Crystal's not just a ferocious screamer; she's also a genuinely great singer, and without missing a beat, Initiate transition out of that verse into a soaring, clean-sung chorus that sounds readymade to top an MTV2 Rock Countdown. "The Surface" is the second coming of the "screamed verse, sung chorus" songs that everyone from AFI to Slipknot once ruled the airwaves with, and Initiate do it in a way that sounds entirely their own.

Militarie Gun
loading...

Militarie Gun - "Do It Faster"

Since debuting in 2020 as a new project of Ian Shelton--then best known for the powerviolence band Regional Justice Center--Militarie Gun have been moving in an increasingly melodic direction without losing the gut-punch of their hardcore roots. "Do It Faster" off upcoming LP Life Under The Gun is an anthem that rivals the power pop-infused alt-rock of bands like Weezer, Guided by Voices, and Sugar, but it's still the kind of song to incite mosh pits and stage dives. When you need the outlet for aggression that hardcore offers but with a melody to latch onto, "Do It Faster" has you covered.

Narrow Head
loading...

Narrow Head - "Gearhead"

Narrow Head vocalist/guitarist Jacob Duarte and drummer Carson Wilcox both previously did time in the underrated Houston hardcore band Dress Code and both currently play in TX hardcore/metalcore band Skourge (whose vocalist also fronts Blake Ibanez of Power Trip's new band Fugitive), and Narrow Head regularly play hardcore festivals and tour with hardcore bands, but their own music generally embraces grunge and shoegaze. On "Gearhead," they nod towards their hardcore roots, with a Headbangers Ball riff that wouldn't sound out of place on a Quicksand album and some harsh shrieks to break up the shoegazy coos.

Regulate
loading...

Regulate - "Hair"

On their excellent 2022 self-titled sophomore album, Regulate stretch their musical palette from furious New York hardcore to polyrhythmic Latin rock to hooky alternative rock, the last of which they entirely master on "Hair." You can still hear echoes of hardcore in the heavy guitars, but Sebastian Paba proves to be a real belter, not just a vocal cord-tearing screamer. From its groovy rhythms to its very singable hooks, "Hair" is one of the most infectious rock songs in recent memory, and Regulate deliver it with the power that "rock" music too often lacks.

Scowl
loading...

Scowl - "Opening Night"

Having started out as a punk-leaning hardcore band in the vein of anything from Negative Approach to Ceremony, Scowl have begun to take cues from stuff like Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and Hole alongside their original influences. That really comes through on "Opening Night" off their great new Psychic Dance Routine EP. It's got an instant-classic alt-rock chorus, some Sonic Youth dissonance, and still maintains elements of hardcore, like the bloodthirsty shrieks that Kat Moss lets out at the end.

Squint Feel It
loading...

Squint - "Dealer Wins"

Squint arrived fully formed in 2022 with two great EPs that quickly positioned them as one of the best new bands of their ilk. The Bandcamp bio for their debut EP Feel It cites the melodic hardcore of Turning Point and Rites of Spring as well as the alt-rock of Seaweed and Sugar, and the music backs it up. Comparisons to Drug Church and Title Fight are apt too, but Squint do more than rehash influences. Their knack for melody, emotion, and riffs makes endlessly replayable songs like "Dealer Wins" stand tall next to whoever you might compare Squint to.

TURNSTILE
loading...

Turnstile - "Mystery"

This list is in alphabetical order, so last but definitely not least is the band most responsible for bringing new fans to hardcore right now, Turnstile. And one of the big reasons Turnstile is turning so many new heads is their ability to make songs that are creative as they are addictive, like "Mystery." Powered by a riff that Kurt Cobain would've wished he'd thought of first, "Mystery" is Turnstile at their most purely alt-rock, with one of the absolute catchiest choruses Brendan Yates has ever sung. (Or, yelled.) Hardcore is in its DNA, but so is electronic music and pop music and grunge and a whole lot of other stuff too. It's the ultimate song for a list like this.

--

Listen to a playlist with all 13 songs below. Pick up exclusive vinyl from Drug Church, Militarie Gun, Scowl, and more in the BV shop. Browse our 'In Defense of the Genre' column for more punk lists and features like this one.

More From Brooklyn Vegan