Punk Rock Graduation Part 2

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.]

Punk Rock Graduation Part 1

There's something special about what our host, Angela, is going through in this particular time of her life. She's on her way to her senior year in high school, and presuming she graduates, she'll be looking forward to a new chapter of her life. As I graduated from a high school in Calgary I thought that I would extend a short examination of how a branch of my taste in music began taking shape, ie: babble/rant on about nothing important.

I was recently discussing a few things that have been going on in the city with Ms. Angela and I was baffled by how little I recognize the landscape. She named a number of bands off the top of her head including Pressure Kill Common Style, The Collapse, Woodpigeon and The Failure to name a mere few. Though I knew very little to begin with about the local scene, when I was graduating high school I spent a lot of time listening to bands like Rancid, NOFX and Gob which led me to begin to explore a little into the Calgary punk scene. In doing so, friends advised me somewhat of what was going on (maintain the time period of roughly '98-'01) and I found out about a few bands like Belvedere, Chixdiggit and Downway. Though I was a timid concert (or "gig" as the hipsters callen 'em) goer, I began listening to these bands a little, especially Chixdiggit, and felt somewhat close to the music.

As time has progressed I've grown closer to that band's songs for a number of reasons (here's where I babble)...in my journey towards my university diploma I found myself in a community college taking a course in rock & roll history. My teacher, Jocko, told tales of growing up in New York (not unlike my own tale) and spending time at, of all places, Rockaway Beach. How cool is that?! He continually mentioned how miserable a place it was, polluted and rocky with bitter waves. It was during this class, that I thought about the Chixdiggit song "Sikome Beach." Though I had never traveled there, legend has it that the beach was the same depressing polluted and rocky, sad excuse for a beach, swamp that old Jocko was referring to.

Oh, and for the sake of this rant, I had heard along the way that a member of Chixdiggit had babysat for someone who worked with my dad. Yeah, so I'm only like two degrees of separation from the band, but, I'm not trying to brag or anything.

Punk was and continues to be a major influence in my musical tastes. It's very enjoyable for me to listen to some of the music I listened to during high school and reflect on how like my tastes, I have changed. Angela has already proven her musical prowess by much of her postings on this site...and she's only 16. So with that being said, thanks for checking out the first part of the punk rock graduation rant. Topping it off will be the initial chance for me to reminisce a little longer and examine where some of my punk rock roots might have started. This has been Chris from culturebully.com and this is one of the few songs that I can look back and thankfully acknowledge as one of the puzzle pieces that lead me towards what I listen to today. (I can't believe how dated this video looks!)

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