Posts Tagged ‘aging punksters who can’t let go of their past’

Through Metafilter, I found this great page at post-punk, which provides links to tons of classic post punk videos.

Looking over the list, I can see I am still confused as to the difference between new wave and post punk. I thought originally that new wave grew out of post-punk and post punk was sort of a precursor to industrial music with punk undertones. But this site lists bands like The Alarm, The Human League and Shrieback, who I always heard as new wave. And then it lists bands like The Damned and Wire, and I think of both as punk.

Seeing U2 and the Jam leads me to scratch my head because they were around so early; shouldn’t post-punk be after punk sort of waned? Unless, of course, the people defining post-punk are those who think that punk lived and died in the late 70’s.

So we go to AllMusic for a defintion:

After the punk revolution of 1977, a number of bands inspired by the d.i.y. spirit and raw sound of punk were formed. However, instead of replicating the sound of the Sex Pistols, many of these bands forged into more experimental territory, taking cues from a range of artists and styles, such as Roxy Music, David Bowie (especially Low, Heroes and Lodger), disco, dub and Krautrock.

The result was Post-Punk, a more adventurous and arty form of punk, no less angry or political but often more musically complex and diverse. Many of these groups — like Joy Division or the Cure — created dark, synthesizer-oriented soundscapes while others– like Orange Juice or XTC — had a lighter guitar-based musical approach but their lyrics and music were off-kilter and often subverted traditional pop/rock song structures. Post-punk eventually developed into alternative pop/rock in the ’80s.

So post punk is post punk beginnings, not post punk in general. Got it?

This is why I hate defining things into genres. I can’t see Nick Cave, The Cure, Lydia Lunch and Front 242 all being lumped into the same genre.

If one wants to be really anal about genres and sub-genres, there are all sorts of labels you could come up with for the punk/post-punk/new wave scene. Some artists can fall into all categories, while some only fit in one.

For instance, you could take a timeline and plot the following bands: Television, New York Dolls, Elvis Costello, Husker Du, XTC, Human League, Duran Duran, OMD, Love and Rockets, Depeche Mode, Orange Juice, Joy Division, Killing Joke, Split Enz, Culture Club, The Jam, Madness and Squeeze. There is no way you could define them all using the three specific labels previously mentioned. The only thing they have in common is that they all sprung from the same movement.

If this were a visual chart that started after the so-called punk revolution (again, that point figured primarily by people who, in their minds, are still living in 1977), there would be branches leading off in every direction, with little notations stating things like dark new wave, gothic punk, pop punk, mainstream new wave, synth pop, ska-punk, and breaking off the punk further into NY Hardcore and DC and California genres, etc. And then you could go from there and make a case for new wave leading to techno leading to industrial and so on and so on.

The bottom line here is that music and all its genres are not only incestuous, they are pretty arbitrary as well. One person’s punk is another person’s pop (see, Blink 182), while one person’s new wave is another person’s radio-driven pop (see, Culture Club).

Does any of this really matter in the long run? Is it going to make or break my life if The Damned are forever labeled as punk or post punk? No. I’m still going to enjoy the hell out of them. All three of the mentioned genres – new wave, punk and post punk – played such a huge role in my defining years (let’s call them 16 until, oh, NOW [punk rockers never grow up]) that if I had to listen to one genre for the rest of my life, I’d beg the genre gods to let me swoop those three up and call them one entity. I’d gladly give up my love for speed metal in that exchange.

My idea just now was to make a definitive, perfect playlist of new wave/punk/post punk to take to the proverbial desert island with me, but, my god, that would be HUGE. I’d have to include about a thousand new wave songs that I danced to in dingy clubs on Long Island (Q-Feel, The Motors, Haircut 100…) and all post punk songs I listened to in the dark of my bedroom while contemplating a career as a suicidal poet (Joy Division, The Stranglers, Bauhaus….) and then go back and grab all the Black Flag and the punk from that era (Circle Jerks, The Germs…)and all the other punk (MDC, Minor Threat, Angry Samoans, H20….) and everything else crammed into these genres (Nick Cave, The Pixies, Front 242, Sparks….) making a playlist like that would eat up my entire iPod and then some. But damn, would I be happy forever.

I wanted to pick one video out of the above linked list to put here and was having a hard time deciding when I clicked on this one this flood of awesome memories from the greatest radio station that ever existed came back.


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