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Post Punk vs. New Wave

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Jazz Man, May 1, 2020.

  1. Jazz Man

    Jazz Man Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore
    Can someone help explain to me if there is any difference between post punk and new wave? I don't think there is.

    Now, I know that the both terms could be considered meaningless since they've both been used as a catch-all in the past. And I also know some of these genre labels, if not all, were invented by the press or record executives who wanted to call the music something else so they could sell more. Finally, I also know that genres are essentially arbitrary for the purpose of organization but I'm interested in the differences, if there are any, as movements. Here's how I understand it:

    Punk was a movement with its height in the mid seventies (around 76-77). Musically, it was largely a reaction against the elitism of rock and roll at the time and big indulgent rockstars playing stadiums and prog rock with virtuoso solos. So, it used the tradition of 1960's garage rock to emphasize simple stripped down music. However, as a movement, the idea was that you could reinvent yourself and thereby society in order to create something unique and artistic. At a certain point along that process though, there is an inherent existentialism where you ask questions like what's the point of all this (which is where you get songs like Richard Hell's who says it's good to be alive?). However, as a result, the music became very nihilistic and defeatist, thus marketing punk music to the audience a certain way and all the artists' creativity became stifled since they were essentially just self parodies at that point. And this is what led to the rise of post punk and/or new wave.

    Therefore, post punk and/or new wave was in the punk tradition but was a reaction against being pigeon-holed into a certain image (hence Johnny Rotton leaves the sex pistols, goes back to his real name, and forms a band called public image ltd.)

    But are post punk and new wave really different? If so, what was new wave really about? I've heard bands like PiL be labeled as new wave but everyone seems to use it as a term for the synthpop, new pop, and new romantic music that came out of the 1980's such as duran duran, the human league, etc. However, i just don't see the human league and PiL being in the same boat.

    Any help is appreciated. Please feel free to discuss and correct me if I'm wrong about anything
     
  2. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    PIL is stereotypical post punk, as is SATBanshees, Joy Division, Bauhaus, etc. It's more akin to goth in its grimness, whereas new wave bands are peppier, colourful and positive, like The B52s, Rezillos, Adam And The Ants. Both took place ¨after¨ the punk era, about 1978, although for most punks, the movement never dies. I for one love the 3 styles alike. They're really branches of the same tree.
     
  3. ArpMoog

    ArpMoog Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit
    I'm partial to hardcore myself.
     
    Zoot Marimba, jimhb and The Pinhead like this.
  4. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Amsterdam
    I don't think there is a clear-cut answer to your question, Jazz Man. At the time, me and my friends were talking about punk and new wave, with punk being the raw "no future" type of music and and new wave being generally poppier and more melodious. After the initial outburst of punk, a lot of the bands either disbanded or moved in to many different directions, blurring the distinction with new wave. We only learned about the term Post-Punk much later. By the mid-eighties new wave itself had splintered into many sub- and new genres.
     
  5. Jazz Man

    Jazz Man Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore
    Yes, you're right I know there is never going to be a clear cut answer. I just thought that I'd get some opinions to help make it clearer, especially from those who lived through it so thank you for your input
     
    Jamsterdammer likes this.
  6. Jazz Man

    Jazz Man Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore
    It's interesting the way you see it because I've always heard that groups like the B52s were totally marketed and packaged and molded which was really what "post punk/new wave" was supposed to be against
     
    The Pinhead likes this.
  7. ganma

    ganma Forum Resident

    Location:
    Earth
    When explaining music of the era I would regard post-punk as referring to more 'uderground' experimental acts and New Wave as referring to popular acts. Wire, Bauhaus, Pere Ubu etc ... then would fall under the post-punk banner and The Cars, Blondie, Duran Duran etc... would fall under the New Wave banner. Of course, it's not that clear cut depending on which era of certain bands you are talking about, but it makes for a simple explanation.
     
  8. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Amsterdam
    Both punk and new wave got captured and commercialized by Big Music in no time! Of course there were lots of bands that mainly did there own thing, but by 1982 the charts started getting filled with bland synth-pop and other manufactured bands. (anyone remembers Sigue Sigue Sputnik?). Still 1976-1981 is probably my favorite period in popular music.
     
    The Pinhead likes this.
  9. u2pitnol

    u2pitnol Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Detroit
    I think it really comes down to as from what point in the timeline are you speaking from. PiL was New Wave in 1978 but would be considered Post Punk now. Like you’ve said, New Wave was adopted in promoting 80’s alternative so as to forgo the stigma of the Punk label. Coincidentally the original New Wave or post punk bands became more pop oriented for the most part in the mid 80’s, at the same time the term punk was being shed by record labels. Thus New wave can be associated by this poppier sound and related to The Thompson Twins versus Bauhaus, who never reached pop.
     
  10. ericthegardener

    ericthegardener Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    I don't think the B52s were packaged and molded, especially at the time of the first few albums. They may have been party music, but they were genuine and unique. I think their guitar player was as creative and influential as any of the post punk guitarists. I'd give those first couple of albums a good listen.

    Post-punk was a term that was applied well after the fact by music writers to describe groups that were inspired by punk's burst of energy, but that had a more artistic edge. These bands were small "p" progressive in nature, generally not impressed with virtuosity, but wanting to take rock music to places it had not been before.
     
  11. Jazz Man

    Jazz Man Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore
    Maybe they weren't to the extent that I make it sound but I think that the B52s or even someone like Blondie weren't necessarily interested in the same things someone like PiL was and therefore shouldn't be categorized as such. I'm not saying they weren't genuine or unique, I just think that there should be a greater distinction. I'm also not saying that it can't be pop oriented or upbeat because I think someone like Elvis Costello would fit the bill with a song like "Radio Radio"
     
  12. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Amsterdam
    Don’t forget there was a massive reggae and ska revival going on at the time resulting in two-tone music becoming very popular and influencing lots of post punk and new wave bands, including Costello, Jackson, Clash, etc.
     
    douglas mcclenaghan likes this.
  13. Jazz Man

    Jazz Man Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore
    True but I think that, while influenced, someone like the clash (since they were part of the original punk scene) were searching for answers beyond the whole defeatist punk mentality that I mentioned in my original post, while costello or joe jackson were following with their own brand of whatever was beyond it
     
    Jamsterdammer likes this.
  14. x2zero

    x2zero Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn USA
    Yes, no one ever said “let’s go to a post-punk show”
     
  15. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Amsterdam
    Correct. But a big part of that defeatism stemmed from the fact that fo example the UK had become a pretty grim place in the seventies, with stagflation and sky-high unemployment. Punk wasn’t just a reaction against overblown prog, but against everything that was wrong with Britain at the time. So the early punk bands put up the middle finger , both lyrically and musically. But you can only do that for so long before it gets boring. Hence the more creative bands started expanding their horizons.
     
  16. jimmydean

    jimmydean Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vienna, Austria
    i think new wave has also some reggae influences... post punk not so much
     
  17. Jazz Man

    Jazz Man Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore
    Yes and this is where the US and the UK differ in their brands of punk. But if you ask me, punk is inherently more of an American music since it comes from garage rock, reminding the elitists that original rock and roll was the most democratic form of music. Also, I think that the defeatism (in the US scene) stemmed more from the process of reinvention that I mentioned in the original post. Someone like Richard Hell (writing who says it's good to be alive) only carried it halfway. He figured, like others, that no it's not good to be alive, so everyone got bogged down in the nihilistic views.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
  18. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Amsterdam
    Sure, the link between garage rock and punk is obvious and garage rock was a US thing. The Ramones were hot well before the Sex Pistols. But the reason punk exploded in Britain and from there to the rest of Europe in late 1976 had a lot to do with the dire prospects for young people at the time.
    And the Berlin Wall didn't help either.
     
    Jazz Man likes this.
  19. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Amsterdam
    Just listen to Sandinista!
     
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  20. Jazz Man

    Jazz Man Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore
    The influence of reggae goes farther back though since it had also influenced the punk scene. I mean "Police & Thieves" was originally a reggae song done by Junior Murvin
     
    Jamsterdammer likes this.
  21. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek I’m a ray of sunshine & bastion of positivity

    How so? There are many post-punk bands clearly influenced by dub.
     
  22. jimmydean

    jimmydean Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vienna, Austria
    correct... if you think pil, gang of four, scritti politti, pop group... yes... what i thought of was more gothic post-punk like siouxsie, bauhaus, birthday party
     
  23. wellhamsrus

    wellhamsrus Surrender to the sound

    Location:
    Canberra
    Meaningless terms, only meaningful in the ear of the behearer, and I lived through it.

    Too much obsession here with categorization and genres, and not enough just listening to music (and putting it onto the continuum of 'good' and 'bad').
     
    JeffMo, rodentdog, Nick Brook and 2 others like this.
  24. Svetonio

    Svetonio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Serbia
    New Wave, as a synthesizer-driven music, was developed from the mid-70's Kraftwerk's music and with a significant influence of the 70s English Art Rock acts like Metro and Phil Manzarena / 801.
    Post-Punk has begun when English punk-rockers discovered aesthetic of The Velvet Underground.
     
  25. Chrome_Head

    Chrome_Head Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA.
    I like to think post-punk embodied pushing the boundaries and musical limitations of punk rock. So the first few Public Image Ltd records would qualify (particularly Second Edition aka Metal Box).

    As far as the grimness attributed to post-punk, it doesn’t get much more profoundly grim than a track like Magazine’s “Permafrost”.

     
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