One of punk's enduring institutions, Social Distortion formed in 1978 and released its seminal ode to suburban anomie, Mommy's Little Monster, five years later. It was another five years before Prison Bound, thanks to frontman Mike Ness' skirmishes with the law and heroin. The album widened Social D's punk sound with country and rockabilly, a move that bore fruit with the band's self-titled 1990 breakthrough that produced "Ring of Fire" and "Ball and Chain." The band has balanced its punk and roots elements nicely — aside from a regrettable stab at hard rock, White Light White Heat White Trash, in 1996 — and the latest, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, is no exception. From the soulful, Stonesy rave-up "California (Hustle and Flow)" to the crackling cow-punk of "Gimme That Sweet and Lowdown," Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes proves that Social D can marry a hook and a rhythm. "I've always been a fan of pop-punk," Ness says. "You know, hooky melodies with loud guitar and a backbeat that you feel from the waist down." When not readying a new Hot Water Music album, Chuck Ragan gets down in a string trio (upright bass, fiddle) with spare, emotionally taut country-folk. New U.K. act Sharks play spirited, punk power-pop, like the Libertines crossed with the Explosion.