Long Island has a lot going for it. It’s got a couple of beaches, bagels, and more emo bands per capita than anywhere else in the world, including the Midwest. And it really doesn’t get enough credit for coming out with remarkable music in general. That’s why we ranked the top 50 songs written by bands from the most populous island in America.
And let’s get this out of the way early. We aren’t including Brand New. We know they are from Long Island, but we aren’t putting them on this list. They know what happened, you know what happened. There are plenty of other bands to talk about. We won’t waste any more time here.
Note for non-locals: Brooklyn and Queens are not considered part of Long Island culturally despite geographically very much making up the western portion of the actual island. No one knows why this is, but we all just accept it as commonplace. Like daylight savings time. So when we say Long Island, we mean specifically Suffolk and Nassau counties with a couple of notable exceptions.
50. Nightmare of You “I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard” (2005)
Like many Long Island bands, Nightmare of You was formed from previously known Long Island bands and broke up to form even more Long Island bands. Approximately 80% of the bands on this list are made up of other bands on this list. It’s kind of like how everyone on Long Island dated each other at some point.
49. Two Man Advantage “I Had A Dream About Hockey” (1998)
If you like punk, hockey, and crushing beers then boy, do I have a band for you. Bands with a gimmick can oftentimes be cheesy as hell and actually take away from what they’re doing musically, but Two Man Advantage is one you can totally get behind. Unlike Kiss.
48. Wheatus “Teenage Dirtbag” (2000)
This one trends on TikTok every few weeks and you might’ve even seen celebrities use it to post photos of their so-called “teenage dirtbag” years. Only none of their old pics made them look like one. Do not disrespect the word “dirtbag” like that, John Stamos.
47. Crumbsuckers “Trapped” (1986)
Crumbsuckers were a crossover thrash who played with the likes of Suicidal Tendencies, Pantera, and Megadeth. The band was largely seen as ahead of their time. Kind of like how Long Island was way ahead of the rest of the country with the creation of suburbs. You’re welcome, America.
46. Sainthood Reps “Monoculture” (2011)
Just want to take this moment to say you don’t live in Long Island. You live ON Long Island. This is an important distinction to know going forward. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, go ahead and listen to Sainthood Reps. They rip.
45. Machine Girl “Atoth a Go!! Go!!” (2014)
Machine Girl goes hard in the paint, only they painted the lines and won’t tell us where they are. They’re popular in internet circles and even tour with 100 gecs. If you’re not familiar, Machine Girl blends pure chaos over electronica beats and makes music exclusively for werewolves.
44. Anterrabae “How Joey Got His Groove Back” (2004)
There was a period of time on Long Island when you couldn’t sit at a diner at two in the morning on a Saturday night with your best buds without overhearing someone say the word “Anterrabae” before asking the server to split the $32 bill 12 ways. Anterrabae had a major impact on the late-night dining experience.
43. Diffuser “I Wonder” (2003)
If you listen to the “Freaky Friday” and “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” soundtracks as much as I do, you’re already well-familiar with this band. Turns out their music goes perfectly with Lindsay Lohan movies.
42. As Tall as Lions “Ghost of York” (2006)
75% of indie bands in the 2000s were formed in NYC. But As Tall as Lions went against the grain and got together just slightly east of the city. True pioneers in the indie genre.
41. Somerset Thrower “Too Rich to Die” (2020)
Somerset Thrower is like a culmination of emo-forward ‘90s post-hardcore and alternative bands. If you’re ever sitting in traffic on Middle Country Road and need to pass the time, I highly recommend putting on the “Paint My Memory” album with the windows rolled down while staring directly into the eyes of drivers passing by. Just like how it was intended to be heard.
40. Envy on the Coast “Sugar Skulls” (2007)
Post-hardcore band Envy on the Coast formed in 2004, broke up in 2010, and got back together in 2016. At some point, every band on Long Island gets back together, even if only for a reunion show. It’s just a healthier alternative to getting back with your ex.
39. Northern State “Better Already” (2007)
Northern State gets points for creativity with merging indie rock with hip hop. The band started as a joke but ended up collaborating with heavy hitters like one of the Beastie Boys and their music even appeared in “Grey’s Anatomy.” This proves you can go pretty far if you do things insincerely.
38. Leaders of the New School “What’s Next” (1993)
Before Busta Rhymes was the Busta Rhymes we know today, he was part of this Long Island-based hip hop group. Chuck D actually gave Busta his famous stage name after some football player named George “Buster” Rhymes. Things could’ve gone a lot differently in his career if he were named after Buster Keaton.
37. I Am the Avalanche “Better Days” (2020)
I Am the Avalanche technically formed in Brooklyn, but most of the members are from Long Island. At least the important ones. If you’re going to move away from Long Island you typically relocate to Brooklyn, Florida, or one of the Carolinas. Nowhere else.
36. Oso Oso “basking in the glow” (2019)
Contrary to popular belief, Long Islanders don’t hang out in the Hamptons all too much. It’s because we’re too busy going to Oso Oso shows. You’d understand if you lived here and listened to them.
35. Stray Cats “Rock This Town” (1982)
The town of Massapequa is home to many famous people, like Jerry Seinfeld, Alec Baldwin, and Brian Setzer. But the Stray Cats will go on to be remembered as one of eight Long Island bands who weren’t emo, hardcore, or metal. Truly groundbreaking.
34. Sanction “Paralysis” (2019)
Long Island metalcore will never die. It only takes a few months off and comes back stronger and more abrasive. See: Sanction.
33. Dr. Acula “Cocaine Avalanche” (2011)
Dr. Acula is perhaps the only band named after a Mitch Hedberg punchline. This trend really should’ve caught on. Either way, they’re one of the few bands whose music actually lives up to their clever name.
32. EPMD “Da Joint” (1999)
EPMD, short for Erick and Parrish Making Dollars, never got the credit they deserved nationwide. Kind of like how Long Island doesn’t get enough credit for revolutionizing drinking in public on a train, like what happens on the LIRR between the hours of 6 a.m. and 4 a.m.
31. Pain of Truth “Under My Skin” (2023)
Pain of Truth will amp you up and make you want to punch a hole in your drywall. But in a good way. Long Island seems to have a lot of hardcore and metal bands. You know, the disgruntled genres. But why do Long Islanders have a chip on their shoulder? High property taxes.
30. Macseal “Twilight Funzone” (2017)
If you grew up on Long Island and never went through an emo phase, can you really be considered a Long Islander? Studies are still inconclusive. In the meantime, listen to Macseal and see if you pass the test.