Contemporary Post-Punk Bands You Should Know
The detached nihilism and effortless composure from the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Gang of Four set a tone for underground and indie minded artists of future generations. Post-punk is synonymous with cool.
The first wave of punk bands rewrote rock’s rulebook by adopting an amateurish approach in defiance of the overly technical, commercialized, and indulgent prog rock bands gaining popularity at the time. But after rock’s foundation was shattered, it was time for a rebuilding process. Bands like Wire, Mission of Burma, The Slits, The Raincoats, The Fall, The Cure, and Public Image Ltd. added a musical sophistication to pair with punk’s DIY ethos. Some bands went moodier and cacophonous, while others pushed simple four-chord attacks into something more angular and obtuse. Some acts like The Pop Group leaned towards the avant-garde, aiming to challenge listeners with the most wickedly strange and alluring sounds imaginable at the time.
Fast forward two decades and a new generation of musicians, raised on Joy Division and the Talking Heads, ignited the post-punk revival. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, and Interpol enjoyed commercial success as they were championed by the indie rock kids.
Some might say that the post-punk movement, in both of its installments, has come and gone, but there are a number of excellent artists still playing intelligent, art-driven punk music today. Here are some of the best.
London based Savages craft a dark, visceral sound led by vocalist and lyricist Jehnny Beth. The band excels at both sprawling, slow-burners as well as furious head-bangers. Their philosophically searching lyrics are delivered through commanding performances. They are undoubtedly one of the most enthralling bands to emerge in the 2010s.
Ought, hailing out of Montreal, have a bright and jangly take on punk. Their music is anxious and unstable, in a way not too unlike David Byrne. Vocalist Tim Beerly sings with a sarcastic delivery, at times venturing into spoken word. Leaning towards wordiness, Ought gains attention through their witty, socially keen lyrics.
Preoccupations, formerly known as Viet Cong, are a Calgary based post-punk band with an eclectic array of musical influences. Standing out from their peers, their emphasis is on atmosphere. The bleak sound is peppered with elements of noise, electronic drums, and some masterful synth work.
Formed in D.C., Priests’ politically charged lyrics are very appropriate considering their proximity to nation-wide frustration and angst. Alice Greer wails and howls over spindling, tinny surf rock riffs and funky, no wave grooves. The DNA of ESG, X-Ray Spex, and the Pixies is intertwined to birth Priests.
This Atlanta punk band points an indignant eye towards injustice with righteous protest anthems. Vocalist Franklin James Fisher is unique in his ability to shift from vicious shouts to soulful singing. Algiers incorporates dismal electronic influences to stimulate in a cerebral way, but their music is also profoundly spiritual. Algiers is just as much a resounding gospel band as they are a punk outfit.
Danish rockers have gone through quite the evolution since their original formation as teenagers. Their earliest records sound much closer to straightforward hardcore punk than other bands on this list. But by their third album the band had truly found themselves, incorporating pianos, saxophones, and even elements of country music. With their most recent album, Iceage at times venture into glam rock that wouldn’t sound too out of place on Lou Reed’s Transformer.
Parquet Courts would easily fit on any indie-rock bill. While keeping their punk roots grounded, they also do the lo-fi slacker rock thing very well. The New York band’s sound is colorful, humorous, and deceptively smart. While consistently maintaining their edge, songs like “Outside” and “Human Performance” prove Parquet Courts’ skills at writing hooks that pack a punch and are catchy as hell.
John Casey’s lyrics are heady and esoteric. His cryptic poetry focuses on the ills of society and the people it neglects. But Protomaryr is much more than their words. Their sound is eerie and apocalyptic. Protomartyr create bleak and dense music that communicates a cynical outlook, even if you tune out the lyrics completely.
Idles have exploded out of the UK punk scene very quickly with two well received albums in the same amount of years. Idles fuse satire and smart politically charged lyrics with fierce, passionate performances. This winning formula makes Idles one of the most exciting bands to watch for.