You've got to an admire a band that elevates the genre.
For me, one of those band's is Fort Collins's Elway. I'm not punk scholar, but it would be fairly easy to see these guys as pop punk: strong melodies, pretty harmonies, songs (usually sad) about girls. I suppose it would easy to write them off based on that description alone. But I've already waxed poetic about frontman Tim Browne's work before: so there's a reason I'm bringing this to your attention.
Leavetaking is very much a young person's album. Its main themes are crises of faith, defiance, heartbreak, and resolution. In short, I love it. While I haven't necessarily experienced the lows Browne has, this is the kind of music that gets you through the day, year, month, decade, what have you. It captures what it's like to be in your 20s in a scant 33 minutes. While that's an accomplishment itself, Elway's songs have a literary quality that put them on par with Two Cow Garage: for every raw emotion, there's a smart lyric that goes with it. Never too clever or obscure, Elway hits its mark every time.
Highlights include "One Flew West," a full-band reworking of "Hopefully" on the Soviet Bear EP that really soars. "Someday, Sea Wolf" has Gaslight Anthem-esque riffs and melodies, though Elway avoids Gaslight's inadvertent heavy-handedness. The album opener, "The Great Divorce," is a fantastic example of storytelling through song.
There's an interesting track-by-track commentary by Browne here, but avoid it if you like attaching your own meanings to songs.
One Flew West
Someday, Sea Wolf
The Great Divorce
Elway -- Facebook, Buy Leavetaking,Spotify