On December 1st 1976, UK TV history was made. On Bill Grundy’s Today show, the Sex Pistols and a couple of their associated chums shocked a nation. Their behavior was quickly seen as inappropriate for most of the 1970s public and by the time their interview concluded with Steve Jones calling Grundy “a fucking rotter”, things had moved from merely “inappropriate” to “causing outrage”.
In 2016, Scandinavian garage rockers Nightmen dropped one of the greatest musical surprises of the year. Exploring various elements of garage rock and proto-punk, ‘Fifteen Minutes of Pain‘ delivered a short and sharp aural assault of a record that was not only loving of the past, but also keen to bring such sounds kicking and screaming into the present. It was also the kind of debut that sounded like the work of a band who might burn themselves out too quickly. For this second release, the band could’ve decided to churn out more of the same and that would’ve been great, but being smart cookies, they’ve avoided that inevitable burnout and adapted their previous sounds to allow for growth. Amongst various garage rock and proto-punk staples, this time around, they also show more of a talent for classic power pop.
Emo. Originally shorthand for emotional hardcore and practised by melodic hardcore bands like Youth of Today, Rites of Spring et al, by the beginning of the twenty first century, anything labelled emo couldn’t be further away from those origins. There was a spell in the mid 90s where alternative rock bands with a slight indie leaning were also labelled emo (the best of which were the much missed Sense Field and the short-lived Shift) and they were great, but beyond that, emo just became a lazy tag for “whining sub-goth naval gazing with floppy fringe”. Surely, somewhere in the US, Brendan Canty wonders what the hell happened?
In 2015, singer songwriter and power pop champion Kurt Baker capitalised on his escalating popularity in Europe by teaming up with a bunch of Spanish garage rock and bar band heroes…and Bullet Proof Lovers was born. Not so much out of necessity, but from fun, and the resulting mini-album (which had a belated US release in 2016) saw Baker tackling some of his punkiest tendencies since his days with The Leftovers.
Russia’s Always Sick are another band joining the onslaught of punkers either channelling classic Ramones or ‘39/Smooth’ era Green Day for their primary influences. Ranging from the almost piss-takingly good (Riverdales, Tough) to the flat out awful, there’s a world’s worth of acts channelling the same four chords to make their punky mark. So many, in fact, there are now too many to even count, so it’s unsurprising when many slip by unnoticed.