So many battles have been fought about how complicated pop music should be. In the 40s, Charlie Parker was so pissed off at the appropriation of swing jazz that he practiced for 8 hours a day and came up with a type of music so fast and technically demanding, white America couldn’t even understand it, let alone dance to it. In the 50s, rock & roll swept the world and the kids went crazy for three chords and a backbeat, whilst their parents worried about what the world was coming to.
Maybe the most famous battle over technique happened in the mid 70s, a time of extended guitar solos, industry fat cats, and, as JJ Burnell from The Stranglers put it, ‘long-haired guys with loads of pedals and who were up their own arses’. Cue punk, a revolution from the underbellies of New York and London that spread across the English speaking world. Suddenly three chords were all you needed again, and people who could play their instruments properly were doing it all wrong. Punk redefined the whole experience of creating music, making it something anyone could do if they wanted to. This DIY attitude and liberation from tradition was the start of an intensely creative reimagining of what music was about. But three chord songwriting didn’t last for long- by the early 80s, punk had entered a new phase- lots of musicians were experimenting again. A band from Guildford (who 5 years before had been infamous for chucking cups of piss over the audience whilst they were playing) wrote a song in 3/4 with a harpsichord in it, coming up with the all-time classic Golden Brown. The remaining members of Joy Division formed New Order and started messing with synthesisers and drum machines. Being able to play your instrument was cool again, and a new phase of experimentation started. But this time the music stayed self-aware and unpretentious. Punk had given birth to post-punk.
In time, punk had lots of children with lots of different musical partners and it’s these half-sibling genres that this playlist is about. Here’s some choice cuts of post-punk, lo-fi, shoegaze, grunge, and a lot in between, then and now, as brought to you by bands from Nottingham, across the UK, and beyond. Follow it on Youtube or Spotify, links below.