Dead Kennedys
[Photo by: Edward Colver]

The year is 1985: Punk’s now 10 years old and changing again. Hardcore was now a formula: 1. Pick a seemingly random number of initials for your name (Say, SRI Social Reagan Injustice); 2. Play at light speed. 3. Sing about how you hate Reagan and nuclear war. 4. Shave your head. Like rock music itself, punk was mutating into several splinter styles, taking on some distinctly un-punk musical colors and learning a thing or two about songcraft. These are some of the best punk albums from 1985.

Punk elements assimilated into the mainstream, as Madonna brought the fashion sense into dance clubs, hardcore jokesters Beastie Boys infused hip-hop with attitude and roots rock injected more traditional musical shapes with fresh energy. Conversely, as certain hardcore bands followed Black Flag‘s lead (going metal as they learned to play their instruments), other metal bands sped up to hardcore specs ( Metallica, Slayer). The year’s best bands now figured out how to meld punk with some artsier notions, noise and classic pop songwriting. These 15 punk albums from 1985 feature some of the signposts to an alternative and grunge future. 

Read more: 18 hardcore and metalcore bands you probably forgot from the 2000s

The Jesus And Mary Chain – Psychocandy