OKAY so I am a fucking nerd about this so bare with me here. Not to be a complete list but a fantastic jumping off point. Dive right in, Ska has so much wonderful music to offer!


  • Skatalites
  • Prince Buster
  • Toots & The Maytals
  • Desmond Dekker

CLASSICS otherwise known as 2nd Wave:

  • The Specials - Self-Titled
  • The Selecter - Too Much Pressure
  • Madness - One Step Beyond
  • The English Beat - Keep The Beat

Great jumping off point, can really hear the influence of Jamaican Reggae. Bands are a solid mix of black and white British working class folks just making music together and making commentary on their socio-political surroundings.


  • Operation Ivy (THE ORIGINAL SKA PUNKS!! Played shows with Green Day in Berkeley when they were all just teenagers fucking around. Existed for only two years but pretty much invented a whole new genre and became immortalized in alternative musical history during that time. Without Op Ivy we wouldn’t have literally any of the ska bands we have today. Their album Energy is basically a collection of all of their songs, check it out.)
  • Reel Big Fish
  • Less Than Jake
  • No Doubt
  • Sublime (have a reputation both in music and in fanbase, but important to the musical canon of contemporary ska.)
  • The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  • Goldfinger
  • Big D & The Kids Table (invented a new sub genre they call Stroll in recent years. Fantastic musicians that went from just another 90’s ska band to actually taking their craft seriously and trying new ideas) Bandcamp
  • The Suicide Machines (fuck yeah explicitly leftist skacore) Bandcamp

Warped Tour Core

Emulating the marriage of pop punk and ska that was so prevalent in the early 2000’s, but now with better recording production value!! Real fun bands, real fun hooks, very much what people think when they hear the word Ska nowadays.

4th Wave (Contemporary)

  • Streetlight Manifesto (every single album. Every one. Perfect. Such incredible musicianship that some folks debate whether it’s ska at all)
  • Grey Matter - Climbing Out (great fusion of ska, jazz, hardcore, and punk. Experimental) Bandcamp
  • Catbite (the most fun you will have listening to a band) Bandcamp
  • Joystick (skacore) Bandcamp
  • We Are The Union (trans-fronted ska-pop-punk!) Bandcamp
  • The Best of The Worst (skacore) Bandcamp
  • JER (Jer from Skatoon Network, largely partway responsible for ska entering back into public popularity) Bandcamp
  • Rotten Reputation - Skary Stories (self plug!! I play guitar in this band!) Bandcamp
  • Escape From The Zoo (crack rock steady but like, really fucking good) Bandcamp
  • Jeff Rosenstock - Ska Dream Bandcamp
  • Night Gaunts (spooky space rap ska) Bandcamp
  • Bad Operation Bandcamp
  • Marujah
  • The Interrupters Bandcamp

New bands doing really cool shit!! Pushing the genre forward and trying new things! Cream of the fucking crop for contemporary ska right here.

Crack Rock Steady (Crust Ska)

  • Choking Victim (the original, broke up while in the studio.)
  • Leftover Crack (after CV, the lead singer stza started leftover crack, a highly controversial band that was the kind of surface level anarchy burn it all shit [lyrics like “I’m not PC, I’ll shoot your kid at school if he’ll grow up to be a fucking [homophobe] like you.”] like sublime, problematic as fuck, but widely influential and somewhat important to the musical canon of ska. Lots of songs about killing cops.)
  • Star Fucking Hipsters (side project also by stza, ended with their second singer Nico stabbing stza outside of a show cause he was a fucking piece of shit. Still is a piece of shit. Listen to star fucking hipsters for Nico)
  • Rotten Blue Menace (my friends! The band’s no longer active but you can watch a lil documentary I made about them playing a show in Kansas City on YouTube when I was a fucking teenager. Really good crusty skacore) Bandcamp The Rotten Blue Crüe Goes To Kansas City
  • Dead Work (my homie Jon P making some acoustic blackened Ska. The White Plague is a fucking amazing masterwork of his) Bandcamp
  • Bombflower (leftist political crusty goodness) Bandcamp
  • Stupid Stupid Henchmen (blisteringly fast, their new album is fantastic) Bandcamp
  • Lo-Cash Ninjas (Navajo Crack Rock Steady from the shiprock rez) Bandcamp
  • Bitch’n’dudes (weird crusty jazzy ska fusion stuff) Bandcamp

Harsh vocals, shitty production value, the best ska chord progressions come in minor and run fast as fuck. Has a special place in my heart because of the energy of the music, despite the shitty origins of the genre. Fuck Stza, listen to leftover crack for a frame of reference, and then listen to the better bands I listed below his project.

Bomb The Music Industry!

They get their own section. Fronted by Jeff Rosenstock and featuring Laura Stevenson on keys, this band occupies a space which I can only describe as “Hyper Ska”. Much like hyperpop is a genre that works as a commentary on pop music by pushing all of its elements to its limits, so too with a wild flurry and urgency does Jeff push ska punk to a point where it very nearly breaks. Drums so fast they’ll make your head spin. Incredibly climactic horn sections. Weird electronic noises courtesy of Ms. Stevenson. It’s brilliant, it’s wild, it makes me cry. Listen to Bomb The Music Industry!. I’d suggest starting with Get Warmer, as that album is the closest you’ll get to a moderately dialed back sound of theirs. After that, I’d try Scrambles, or To Leave Or Die In Long Island. All of their music is free to download from

STUFF TO CHECK OUT Heather Augustyn writes about ska history and does her fuckin research about it!

The Duff Guide To Ska Active ska blog band reviews, ska history, and some other cool stuff! Get lost on this site!