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Stylistic origins Punk rock, experimental rock, krautrock,[1] art rock, dub, funk rock, disco, glam rock[2]
Cultural origins Mid–late 1970s, United Kingdom, United States, Australia
Typical instruments Guitar, drums, bass guitar, synthesizers, keyboard, drum machine, modified electronics
Derivative forms Gothic rock, coldwave, alternative rock, industrial music, dark wave, dance-punk, art punk, post-punk revival, synthpop, shoegazing, post-rock, post-hardcore
Regional scenes
Netherlands - Germany - France
Other topics
No wave - New wave

Post-punk is a rock music genre that paralleled and emerged from the initial punk rock explosion of the late 1970s. The genre is an artsier and more experimental form of punk.[3] Post-punk laid the groundwork for alternative rock by broadening the range of punk and underground music, incorporating elements of krautrock (particularly the use of synthesizers and extensive repetition), dub music, American funk and studio experimentation into the genre.[citation needed] 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" to music acts described what Jon Savage called acts such as Siouxsie and the Banshees that sounded like "harsh urban scrapings/controlled white noise/massively accented drumming".[4] The term came to signify artists with sounds, lyrics and aesthetics that differed significantly from their punk contemporaries and soon became applied to other British musicians, including The Pop Group, This Heat, Subway Sect, Wire, The Fall, Public Image Ltd and Magazine. Although American bands such as Devo, Suicide, Television 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, James Chance and the Contortions emerged contemporaneously with the British scene. Similarly, a pioneering punk scene in Australia during the mid-1970s also fostered influential post-punk acts like the Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party.


British post-punk entered the 1980s with a champion, late-night BBC DJ John Peel, landmark bands (e.g. Gang of Four, Joy Division, The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, Bauhaus, The Raincoats, The Teardrop Explodes, The Psychedelic Furs and Killing Joke), and network of supportive record labels (e.g. shop/label 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."[5]

In 1982, The Smiths formed[6] and "post-punk" could then be, arguably, said to encompass a diversity of groups and musicians, as the band have been noted to have little in common with the punk genre.[7]

Other prominent US post-punk artists included Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Mission of Burma,[8] R.E.M., The Lounge Lizards, DNA, Bush Tetras, Theoretical Girls, Swans and Sonic Youth. No wave 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.[9]

In Australia, other influential acts to emerge included: Primitive Calculators, Tactics, The Triffids, Laughing Clowns, The Moodists, Severed Heads, Whirlywirld, Great White Noise, Kill the King and Crime & the City Solution.

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),[10][11] 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.[12][13] Perhaps the most successful band to emerge from post-punk was U2,[14] 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 such as gothic rock,[15] industrial music,[16] synthpop,[17][18] post-hardcore,[19] neo-psychedelia[20] and most prominently, alternative rock.[3]

Post-punk revival[edit]

The turn of the 21st century saw a post-punk revival in British and American alternative 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, Editors and Neils Children – surfaced in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Modern post-punk is more commercially successful than in the 1970s and 1980s; however clubs continue to air the original post-punk bands.[21][unreliable source?] Additionally, some darker post-punk bands similar in style to Joy Division and The Cure have begun to appear in the Indie music scene in the 2010s, including Cold Cave and Night Sins, who are also affiliated with the current darkwave revival. Then bands like A Place To Bury Strangers with an interesting combination of early post-punk and shoegaze showed up to further engulf the post-punk revival in fame. Light Asylum, another recent darkwave revival band, also cites strong post-punk influences. These bands tend to draw a fanbase who are a combination of the hipster subculture, older post-punk fans, and the current goth subculture.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kootnikoff (2012), p.27
  2. ^ Rip It Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds Postpunk 1978-1984 Penguin Books ISBN 0143036726 p.87,327 US edition
  3. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Post-Punk : Significant Albums, Artists and Songs, Most Viewed". Allmusic. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Are We Not New Wave Modern Pop at the tern of the 1980s" Theo Cateforis 2011 University of Michigan Press (2011) Page 26 ISBN 978-0-472-03470-3
  5. ^ Marcus 1994, p. 109.
  6. ^ OF GLOOM MORE ANGST-LADEN CHANTS FROM MORRISSEY Buffalo Evening News April 22, 1994
  7. ^ "The History of Rock Music. Smiths: biography, discography, reviews, links". Piero Scaruffi. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  8. ^ Allmusic Mission of Burma bio"Burma's music is vintage early-'80s post-punk: jittery rhythms, odd shifts in time, declamatory vocals, an aural assault"
  9. ^ Masters, Marc (2008). No Wave. New York City: Black Dog Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 1-906155-02-X. 
  10. ^ Andy Kellman. "Songs of the Free - Gang of Four : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Allmovie. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Hard Allmusic review
  12. ^ Sullivan, Jim (2 March 1984). "Triumph of the 'New'". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "Cateforis.doc". Google Docs. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  14. ^ F. W. Hoffmann and H. Ferstler, Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, Volume 1 (New York, NY: CRC Press, 2nd edn., 2004), ISBN 0-415-93835-X, p. 1135.
  15. ^ "Goth Rock on Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  16. ^ Reynolds (1996), p.91
  17. ^ Nicholls (1998), p.373
  18. ^ We were synth punks’ Interview with Andy McCluskey by the Philadelphia Inquirer 5 March 2012
  19. ^ "Post-Hardcore on Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Neo-Psychedelia on Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  21. ^


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