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Post-punk is a rock music genre that paralleled and emerged from the initial punk rock explosion of the late 1970s. The genre is a more experimental and arty form of punk. It incorporated elements of krautrock (particularly the use of synthesizers and extensive repetition), disco, dub music, and studio experimentation into the genre.[1]

Post-punk laid the groundwork for alternative rock by broadening the range of punk and underground music. It was the focus of the 1980s alternative music/independent scene, and led to the development of genres such as gothic rock and industrial music.


In November and December 1977, writers for Sounds used the terms "New Musick" and "post punk" for music acts which Jon Savage described as sounding like "harsh urban scrapings/controlled white noise/massively accented drumming".[2] The term came to signify artists such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, whose sounds, lyrics and aesthetics differed significantly from their punk contemporaries, and soon became applied to other British musicians, including Public Image Ltd, Joy Division, The Fall, Wire, Alternative TV, The Cure, Gang of Four, Magazine, This Heat, The Sound and The Pop Group.[3]

Although American bands such as Pere Ubu, Devo, Suicide, Television, The B-52s and Talking Heads had been pioneering a style of music with qualities similar to post-punk since the early 1970s, New York's no wave scene, including Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham, Mars, DNA and James Chance and the Contortions emerged contemporaneously with the British scene. A short-lived New York City scene existed. It focused more on performance art than actual coherent musical structure. The Brian Eno-produced No New York compilation is considered the quintessential testament to the history of no wave.[4]

Similarly, a pioneering punk scene in Australia during the mid-1970s also fostered influential post-punk acts like the The Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party.

Despite existing since the inception of the early punk rock movement, bands such as Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, as well as other bands on the experimental rock trajectory such as Chrome, were associated with the post-punk genre.[5][6][7][8][9] These bands pioneered the emergence of industrial music from the post-punk movement.[10][11][12][13]


British post-punk entered the 1980s with a champion, late-night BBC DJ John Peel, with seminal landmark bands such as Gang of Four, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Echo & the Bunnymen, Bauhaus, The Teardrop Explodes, The Raincoats, The Psychedelic Furs and Killing Joke, and a network of supportive record labels like Rough Trade, Industrial, Fast, Factory, Cherry Red, Mute, Zoo, Postcard, Axis/4AD and Glass.

In 1980, critic Greil Marcus characterised "Britain's postpunk pop avant-garde" – in a Rolling Stone article (referring to bands including Gang of Four, The Raincoats and Essential Logic) – as "sparked by a tension, humour and sense of paradox plainly unique in present day pop music."[14]

While not labeled post-punk as such in the U.S., prominent U.S. groups adopting similar sounds included The Replacements, Minutemen, Mission of Burma,[15] The Lounge Lizards, Bush Tetras, Theoretical Girls, Swans and Sonic Youth.[citation needed]

In Brazil, the post-punk scene grew after the opening of the music club Madame Satã in São Paulo, with acts like Cabine C, Titãs, Patife Band, Fellini and Mercenárias, as documented on compilations like The Sexual Life of the Savages and the Não Wave/Não São Paulo series, released in the UK, Germany and Brazil, respectively.[citation needed]

In Australia, other influential acts to emerge included Primitive Calculators, Tactics, The Triffids, Laughing Clowns, The Moodists, Severed Heads, Whirlywirld and Crime & the City Solution.[citation needed]

Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, walking over her bass guitar

The original post-punk movement ended as the bands associated with the movement turned away from its aesthetics, just as post-punk bands had originally left punk rock behind in favor of new sounds. Some shifted to a more commercial new wave sound (such as Gang of Four),[16][17] while others were fixtures on American college radio and became early examples of alternative rock. In the United States, driven by MTV and modern rock radio stations, a number of post-punk acts had an influence on or became part of the Second British Invasion of "New Music" there.[18][19] Perhaps the most successful band to emerge from post-punk was U2,[20] who combined elements of religious imagery together with political commentary into their often anthemic music.


Post-punk led to the development of many musical genres, including dance-rock,[21] industrial music,[22][11][23][13] synthpop,[24][25] post-hardcore,[26] neo-psychedelia[27] and, most prominently, alternative rock.[1]

Bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and The Cure played in a darker, more morose style of post-punk that lead to the development of the gothic rock genre.[28]

Post-punk revival[edit]

The turn of the 21st century saw a post-punk revival in British and American alternative and indie rock, which soon started appearing in other countries, as well. The earliest sign of a revival was the emergence of various underground bands in the mid-'90s. However, the first commercially successful bands – The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, Interpol and Editors – surfaced in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Additionally, some darker post-punk bands similar in style to Joy Division and The Cure began to appear in the indie music scene in the 2010s, including Cold Cave, She Wants Revenge, The Soft Moon and Light Asylum, who were also affiliated with the darkwave revival, as well as A Place to Bury Strangers, who combined early post-punk and shoegaze. These bands tend to draw a fanbase who are a combination of the indie subculture, older post-punk fans and the current goth subculture.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Post-Punk | Significant Albums, Artists and Songs | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Cateforis, Theo (2011). Are We Not New Wave: Modern Pop at the Turn of the 1980s. University of Michigan Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-472-03470-3. 
  3. ^ Reynolds 2006.
  4. ^ Masters, Marc (2008). No Wave. New York City: Black Dog Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 1-906155-02-X. 
  5. ^ Stubbs, David (2009). Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don't Get Stockhausen. John Hunt Publishing. p. 86. ISBN 1846941792. 
  6. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Mix-Up – Cabaret Voltaire | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Lapatine, Scott (17 April 2009). "Throbbing Gristle @ Masonic Temple, Brooklyn 4/16/09 – Stereogum". Stereogum. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Ingram, Matt (31 October 2010). "20 Best: Post-Punk 7"s Ever Made – Fact Magazine: Music News, New Music.". Fact. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Doran, John (8 December 2011). "The Quietus | Features | Before Cease to Exist: Throbbing Gristle's Reissues Examined". The Quietus. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Reynolds 1996, p. 91.
  11. ^ a b Reynolds 2006, p. 109.
  12. ^ Middles, Mick (2009). The Rise and Fall of the Stone Roses: Breaking into Heaven. Music Sales Group. p. 40. ISBN 0857120395. 
  13. ^ a b Reynolds 2010, p. 150.
  14. ^ Marcus, Greil (1 March 1994). Ranters & Crowd Pleasers. Anchor Books. p. 109. ISBN 9780385417211. 
  15. ^ Dougan, John. "Mission of Burma | Biography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 February 2015. Burma's music is vintage early-'80s post-punk: jittery rhythms, odd shifts in time, declamatory vocals, an aural assault 
  16. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Songs of the Free – Gang of Four | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  17. ^ Hanson, Amy. "Hard – Gang of Four | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  18. ^ Sullivan, Jim (2 March 1984). "Triumph of the 'New'". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "Cateforis.doc" (PDF). Google Docs. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  20. ^ Hoffman, F. W.; Ferstler, H. (2004). Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, Volume 1 (2nd ed.). New York City, New York: CRC Press. p. 1135. ISBN 0-415-93835-X. 
  21. ^ Campbell, Michael (2008). Popular Music in America: And the Beat Goes On. Cengage Learning. p. 359. ISBN 0-495-50530-7. 
  22. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1996). The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock 'n' Roll. Harvard University Press. p. 91. ISBN 978-0674802735. 
  23. ^ Middles 2009, p. 40.
  24. ^ Nicholls 1998, p. 373.
  25. ^ "'We Were Synth Punks' | Inquirer Entertainment". 5 March 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "Post-Hardcore | Significant Albums, Artists and Songs | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  27. ^ "Neo-Psychedelia | Significant Albums, Artists and Songs | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  28. ^ "Goth Rock | Significant Albums, Arists and Songs | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Heylin, Clinton (1993). Babylon's Burning: From the Velvets to the Voidoids: a pre-Punk history for a Post-Punk world. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-017970-5. 
  • Heylin, Clinton (2007). Babylon's Burning: From Punk to Grunge. Viking, Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-102431-8. 
  • McNeil, Legs; McCain, Gillian (1997). Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. London: Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 978-0-349-10880-3. 

External links[edit]