Post-punk is a musical genre that parallels the punk rock and experimental movements that revolutionized music in the late seventies and early eighties. It’s a style built on experimentation and innovation. While post-punk is over 40 years old, it’s still a very active genre of music with bands continuing to push for new musical territory.
Today’s post-punk scene is vibrant, exciting, and unrelenting in its search for new sounds. You could listen for a long time and only scratch the surface in regards to post-punk—there are countless bands out there and here are five of the best, all with unique sounds that are sure to shape the post-punk genre throughout 2022 and beyond.
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With a discordant sound fueled by an undeniable funkiness. Chicago-based trio Arthhur play a dancey brand of energetic post-punk. Arthhur’s latest album, Occult Fractures, contains all the energy you’d hope for from a punk-rock band, with plenty of powerful instrumentation and moments that make you want to dance. Each track of this self-released LP is a slow-burning opus that shows off the band’s immense talent for restraint. Case in point: constant, ceaselessly blinking synth and a looping bass riff sustain the slow burn of “Antihistamine Money” through its lows and its crescendos fueled by crackling percussion that feels like it was plucked from a parade.
BRNDA, a four-piece post-punk band from DC, is all about the no-nonsense approach to making music. The band is known for being unafraid of defying convention and has been putting out jams that are equal parts classic and contemporary, from the ‘70s to today. Since forming in 2012, BRNDA has released three albums and an EP, all of which are excellent. Their latest release, Do You Like Salt?, demonstrates their rich and varied sonic palette, shifting between testy punk and noisy no wave at any given moment. With a sound and song themes that defy convention, BRNDA are without a doubt one the most exciting bands out right now.
Tim Darcy’s band Ought were no strangers to big ideas. Stylistically, they created one of the most compelling rock albums of the 2010s in More Than Any Other Day. The Montreal quartet was always a band that sought to do much more than fit into the confines of their genre. With Cola, Darcy and his bandmates Ben Stidworthy and Evan Cartwright expand upon Ought’s musical and songwriting scope. Cola’s debut album, Deep In View, examines themes of technology-induced modern anxieties — addressing present-day struggles more than its members’ past work — while fitting in with the melodic side of post-punk and bringing its own unique energy to the genre.
Dry Cleaning might not sound like the definitive post-punk band, but they’re not supposed to. The serrated melodies and detached vocals of their latest album, New Long Leg, dabbles in nostalgia while presenting a fresh and exciting sound that commingles everything from psychedelia to dream pop and new wave. The album presents a strange kind of storytelling in which everyday objects are put under a microscope to highlight life’s absurdity. The band’s groove-heavy music is put in perfect counterbalance by lead vocalist Florence Shaw’s detached, sardonic delivery. Pulling together phrases from YouTube comments, newspaper headlines and other sources, Shaw creates a collage of language that is both familiar and strange.
Forging a confrontational and cacophonous post-punk that delves deep into the DNA of ’80s punk and experimental music, Portland trio Lithics are a multilayered listen. In an era of individuality and differentiation, there’s something comforting in a band that can forge its own path while still sounding like the product of a particular time and place. Taking cues from disparate acts like Wire, Devo, and Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, Lithics’ tight, interlocking rhythms and guitar/singer dynamics evoke a particular period without resorting to cheap nostalgia or derivative stylistic shorthands.