#3 The Matches - E Von Dahl Killed The Locals (self-released 2003/Epitaph 2004)
The Matches will always have a special place in my heard because they played at the first real concert I went to. I had seen some local bands around town and supposedly when I was very young I saw Raffi, but this was my first real concert. It was the summer between high school and college. A friend had invited me to go with her to Thursday At The Square to see Reel Big Fish (for anyone reading this who isn't from the WNY area, TATS is a free summer concert series in Buffalo). For RBF, the concert was a stop on the Fish Head III tour, and The Matches (a pop-punk band relatively unknown outside of their native Oakland, CA) were the opening act, so they were the first band I ever saw in concert. (For anyone interested, Gob and Zebrahead were the supporting acts.) I bought the self-released version of the album at the show, and later bought the reissue tracks on iTunes.
E Von Dahl Killed The Locals is unmistakably a pop-punk album, but with an experimental side that transcends the usual limits of the genre. I've read reviews that attack the album as being bland and generic, but I honestly don't see it. I think the problem may be that the reviewers tend to be in their late 20's/30's and grew up with bands like The Descendents. It may very well be that this album hit me at just the right time of my life. Despite how much I love this album, I think it's safe to say that of all the albums on this list, this is the least likely to be enjoyed by the average listener.
The big picture is that the songs are fun and catchy. If you like that, then give the album a listen, but this is probably the only list where it would be placed alongside Deja Entendu, Nimrod, or Good News For People Who Love Bad News.
Favorite tracks: "Chain Me Free," "Superman" (only on the self-released version), "Jack Slap Cheer," "Sick Little Suicide"