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Punk Rock Graduation Part 2

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My intentions aren’t to spark a debate or express myself as something that I’m not. I’m a simple fan with simple thoughts, but when Angela and I were talking and a post-punk reference was dropped I was sort of taken back that she wasn’t quite certain what post-punk is. I was listening to a newer Brooklyn-based band the Pretty Flowers and I immediately thought post-punk. To be honest, it’s hard to say that everyone can agree on what post-punk is and I’m not sure that I can narrow the term down myself.

As I was introduced to punk through which ever wave was going down during the mid to late 90s I was too introduced to post-punk. There were a variety of books I read during my teen years that lead me to believe that there was something huge that I was missing out on musically. The only information I previously had in my timeline included bands like Sonic Youth, Ramones, and through grunge references The Melvins, Green River and The Butthole Surfers. Who were bands like The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Echo & The Bunnymen, Gang of Four, Joy Division, The Cure and The Minutemen? Though, not all post-punk, per say, they all help lead into this discussion.

And now, however fitting it may be, I live near Minneapolis, the Mecca, in my opinion, of the American post-punk movement.

For the life of me, I see post-punk as a number of things. Elvis Costello, post-punk. Suicide and PiL, post-punk. But for the most part, when I close my eyes and think of the term, one set of lines flows through my mind; “Walking around with your head in the clouds, it makes no sense at all.” The lyrics, are from Hüsker Dü’s 1985 “Makes No Sense At All.” When I think post-punk, I think lighter-toned alternative.

When Angela asked me to post a little for her I told her that I’d love to, and my agreement closely followed our brief mention of post-punk. I’ve recently been working closely with another blogger friend on a project and we were just throwing out names of bands that we were currently listening to. As Angela had previously mentioned the dozen or so Calgary based-bands that I’ve never heard of, I hadn’t heard of the vast majority of my friend’s list. What I was listening to, I told him, was Sonic Youth. He told me that he had never heard the band and had never given them a shot because “he shies away from bands with huge discographies that he’s not familiar with, why get into them now?”

Now, if you will, allow me to preach for a moment.

It’s important as a music fan to look into these bands, whether it be Elvis Costello, whether it be Public Image Limited or even The Replacements. The more you listen to music the more you know about why music today sounds like it does. The more you listen to music the more you figure out what was happening during a time before your own. The more you listen to music the easier it is to identify with those, thousands of miles away, who you may never see face to face. And finally, I find that the more you listen, the easier it is to love.

[This article first appeared on But She’s on Fire.]