Post-punk revival

Post-punk revival (also described as new wave revival,[1] garage rock revival[2] or new rock revolution[3]) is a genre of alternative rock and indie rock that developed in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, inspired by the original sounds and aesthetics of garage rock of the 1960s and new wave and post-punk of the 1980s.[1][2] Bands that broke through to the mainstream from local scenes across the world in the early 2000s included the Strokes, Interpol, the White Stripes, the Hives and the Vines, who were followed to commercial success by many established and new acts. By the end of the decade, most of the bands had broken up, moved on to other projects or were on hiatus, although some bands returned to recording and touring in the 2010s.

Definitions and characteristics

In the early 2000s, a new group of bands that played a stripped down and back-to-basics version of guitar rock emerged into the mainstream. They were variously characterised as part of a garage rock, new wave or post-punk revival.[1][4][5][6] Influences ranged from traditional blues, through new wave to grunge.[7] The music ranged from the atonal tracks of bands like Liars to the melodic pop songs of groups like the Sounds,[1] popularising distorted guitar sounds.[8] They shared an emphasis on energetic live performance and used aesthetics (in hair and clothes) closely aligned with their fans,[9] often drawing on fashion of the 1950s and 1960s,[7] with "skinny ties, white belts [and] shag haircuts".[3] There was an emphasis on "rock authenticity" that has been seen as a reaction to the commercialism of MTV-oriented nu metal, hip hop[9] and "bland" post-Britpop groups.[10] Because the bands came from across the globe, cited diverse influences and adopted differing styles of dress, their unity as a genre has been disputed. For historian of garage rock Eric James Abbey, these were diverse bands that appropriated, or been given, the label "garage" to gain a degree of credibility.[7]


Genres, scenes and origins

There were attempts to revive garage rock and elements of punk in the 1980s and 1990s, and by 2000, scenes had grown up as part of the alternative and indie music scenes in several countries.[11] The Detroit rock scene included the Von Bondies, Electric Six, the Dirtbombs and the Detroit Cobras,[12] while New York's included Radio 4, Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Rapture.[13] Billy Childish and The Buff Medways from the United Kingdom,[14] the (International) Noise Conspiracy from Sweden,[15] and the's from Japan,[16] enjoyed underground, regional or national success.

The White Stripes onstage in Barcelona in 2007

New wave was a term adopted in the aftermath of punk rock to describe a generation of bands who generally pursued a more commercially successful punk-influenced sound. Major acts included Talking Heads, Devo, the Cars, the Go-Go's,[17] the Pretenders, Elvis Costello[18] and "skinny tie" bands like Blondie and the Knack.[19] The term post-punk was originally coined to describe groups of this era who took punk and experimented with more challenging musical structures, lyrical themes, and a self-consciously art-based image, while retaining punk's initial iconoclastic stance.[20] AllMusic argued that rather than a revival, the history of post-punk was more of a continuum from the mid-1980s, with scattered bands that included Big Flame, World Domination Enterprises, and Minimal Compact extending the genre. In the mid-1990s, notable bands in this vein included Six Finger Satellite, Brainiac and Elastica.[1] American band Satisfact was also considered as an early example of the new wave revival sound.[21]

At the turn of the century, the term post-punk began to appear in the music press again, with a number of critics reviving the label to describe a new set of bands that shared some of the aesthetics of the original post-punk era. Music critic Simon Reynolds noted that bands like the Rapture and Franz Ferdinand were influenced by the more angular strain of post-punk, particularly bands such as Wire and Gang of Four.[22] Others identified this movement as another wave of garage rock revivalism, with NME in 2003 designating it a "new garage rock revolution",[9] or simply a "new rock revolution".[3] According to music critic Jim DeRogatis, the Strokes, the White Stripes and the Hives all had a sound "to some extent rooted in Nuggets-era garage rock".[5]

Commercial breakthrough

The Strokes on stage in 2005

The commercial breakthrough from these scenes was led by four bands: the Strokes, who emerged from the New York club scene with their debut album Is This It (2001); the White Stripes, from Detroit, with their third album White Blood Cells (2001); the Hives, from Sweden, with their compilation album Your New Favourite Band (2001); and the Vines, from Australia, with Highly Evolved (2002).[23] Both the Strokes and the White Stripes obtained their initial commercial success in the UK, before achieving recognition in the US and elsewhere.[24] They were christened by the media as the "The" bands, and dubbed "the saviours of rock 'n' roll",[25] prompting Rolling Stone magazine to declare on its September 2002 cover, "Rock is Back!"[26] The attention in the press in turn led to accusations of hype,[25] and some dismissed the scene as unoriginal, image-conscious and tuneless.[26] According to Simon Reynolds, "apart from maybe the White Stripes, none could really be described as retro".[27]

Arctic Monkeys on stage in 2006

In the wake of this attention existing acts like Yeah Yeah Yeahs were able to sign to major record labels.[28] A second wave of bands that managed to gain international recognition as a result of the movement included Interpol, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Killers, Kings of Leon,[29] the Catheters, Mooney Suzuki and the Go from the US.[5] From the UK were Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Maxïmo Park, Editors, the Cribs, the Libertines,[30] the Fratellis, Razorlight and Kaiser Chiefs.[31] Arctic Monkeys were the most prominent act to owe their initial commercial success to the use of Internet social networking,[32] with two number one singles and Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006), which became the fastest-selling debut album in British chart history.[33]


As a dominant commercial force, the revival was relatively short-lived. By 2007, the initial success of the movement was beginning to subside, leading commentators to discuss its decline as a phenomenon and argue that it had been overtaken by the more musically and emotionally complex music of indie rock bands like Arcade Fire (which, nevertheless, has been characterized by critics as featuring post-punk influences and sound[34][35][36]) and Death Cab for Cutie.[3] By the end of the decade, many of the bands of the movement had broken up, were on hiatus or had moved into other musical areas, and very few were making significant impact on the charts.[8][37][38] Bands that returned to recording and touring in the 2010s included Arctic Monkeys,[39] the Strokes[40] and Interpol.[41]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, AllMusic, archived from the original on February 16, 2011.
  2. 1 2 J. Stuessy and S. D. Lipscomb, Rock and roll: its History and Stylistic Development (London: Pearson Prentice Hall, 5th edn., 2006), ISBN 0-13-193098-2, p. 451.
  3. 1 2 3 4 M. Spitz, "The 'New Rock Revolution' fizzles", May 2010, Spin, vol. 26, no. 4, ISSN 0886-3032, p. 95.
  4. H. Phares, Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand (Australia Bonus CD), AllMusic, archived from the original on February 15, 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 J. DeRogatis, Turn on your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock (Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2003), ISBN 0-634-05548-8, p. 373.
  6. M. Roach, This Is It-: the First Biography of the Strokes (London: Omnibus Press, 2003), ISBN 0-7119-9601-6, p. 86.
  7. 1 2 3 E. J. Abbey, Garage Rock and its Roots: Musical Rebels and the Drive for Individuality (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006), ISBN 0-7864-2564-4, pp. 105–12.
  8. 1 2 J. Lipshutz; K. Rutherford (March 23, 2011). "Top 10 garage rock revival bands: where are they now?". Billboard. Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  9. 1 2 3 S. Borthwick and R. Moy, Popular Music Genres: an Introduction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004), ISBN 0-7486-1745-0, p. 117.
  10. M. Roach, This Is It-: the First Biography of the Strokes (London: Omnibus Press, 2003), ISBN 0-7119-9601-6, pp. 42 and 45.
  11. P. Simpson, The Rough Guide to Cult Pop (London: Rough Guides, 2003), ISBN 1-84353-229-8, p. 42.
  12. E. Berelian, "The Von Bondies", in P. Buckley, ed., The Rough Guide to Rock (London: Rough Guides, 3rd edn., 2003), ISBN 1-84353-105-4, p. 1144.
  13. B. Greenfield, and R. Reid, New York City (London: Lonely Planet, 4th edn., 2004), ISBN 1-74104-889-3, p. 33.
  14. R. Holloway, "Billy Childish", in P. Buckley, ed., The Rough Guide to Rock (London: Rough Guides, 3rd edn., 2003), ISBN 1-84353-105-4, pp. 189–90.
  15. "Review: The (International) Noise Conspiracy, A New Morning; Changing Weather", New Music Monthly November–December 2001, p. 69.
  16. C. Rowthorn, Japan (Lonely Planet, 8th edn., 2003), ISBN 1-74059-924-1, p. 37.
  17. M. Janosik, ed., The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: The Video Generation, 1981–1990 (London: Greenwood, 2006), ISBN 0-313-32943-5, p. 75.
  18. M. K. Hall, Crossroads: American Popular Culture and the Vietnam Generation (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), ISBN 0-7425-4444-3, p. 174.
  19. S. T. Erlewine, "New Wave", in V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra and S. T. Erlewine, eds, AllMusic Guide to Rock: the Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books, 3rd edn., 2002), ISBN 0-87930-653-X, pp. 1338.
  20. S. T. Erlewine, "Post Punk", in V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra and S. T. Erlewine, eds, AllMusic Guide to Rock: the Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books, 3rd edn., 2002), ISBN 0-87930-653-X, p. 1338.
  21. Grandy, Eric (May 5, 2011). "If You Like Cold Cave, You Should Really Know About Old Seattle Band Satisfact". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  22. W. Neate, "Simon Reynolds interview: Part 2 of 2", Perfect Sound Forever, archived from the original on April 6, 2011.
  23. P. Buckley, The Rough Guide to Rock (London: Rough Guides, 3rd edn., 2003), ISBN 1-84353-105-4, pp. 498–9, 1040–1, 1024–6 and 1162-4.
  24. C. Morris, "Are new rockers earning the buzz?", Billboard, December 14, 2002, vol. 114, no. 51, ISSN 0006-2510, p. 67.
  25. 1 2 C. Smith, 101 Albums That Changed Popular Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), ISBN 0-19-537371-5, p. 240.
  26. 1 2 I. Youngs (October 22, 2002), New bands race for rock stardom, BBC News, archived from the original on May 8, 2011.
  27. Reynolds, Simon (2009). "Simon Reynolds's Notes on the noughties: Clearing up the indie landfill". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
  28. H. Phares, Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Biography, AllMusic, archived from the original on May 8, 2011.
  29. S. J. Blackman, Chilling Out: the Cultural Politics of Substance Consumption, Youth and Drug Policy (Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill International, 2004), ISBN 0-335-20072-9, p. 90.
  30. D. Else, Great Britain (London: Lonely Planet, 2007), ISBN 1-74104-565-7, p. 75.
  31. M. Newman and P. Sexton, "The British are coming", Billboard, April 9, 2005, vol. 117 (13).
  32. A. Goetchius, Career Building Through Social Networking (Rosen, 2007), ISBN 1-4042-1943-9, pp. 21–2.
  33. A. Kumi (January 30, 2006), "Arctic Monkeys make chart history", The Guardian, archived from the original on May 8, 2011
  34. Murray, Noel (August 3, 2010). "Arcade Fire: The Suburbs". The A.V. Club. Onion Inc. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  35. Shaw, Andrew (August 3, 2010). "A Post-Punk Flavored Trip Around the Cult Indie Neighborhood". Buzzine Music. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  36. Truss, Si (August 3, 2010). "Arcade Fire: The Suburbs review — Month of May". MusicRadar. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  37. T. Walker (January 21, 2010), "Does the world need another indie band?", Independent, archived from the original on April 6, 2011.
  38. G. Cochrane (January 21, 2010), "2009: 'The year British indie guitar music died'", BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, archived from the original on April 6, 2011.
  39. A. Leahey, Arctic Monkeys, AllMusic, archived from the original on October 5, 2011
  40. H. Phares, The Strokes, AllMusic, archived from the original on October 5, 2011.
  41. Phares, Heather. "El Pintor - Interpol". AllMusic. Retrieved September 24, 2014.

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