As the world made its way into the ‘80s, the door to individualism, combatment of the mainstream, and electrifying loud and fast musical elements was practically bursting at the hinges, ready to flesh out the future of a new genre — punk rock.
Because music history exists on a nonlinear timeline with a whirlwind of competing offshoots, the start of the first whiff of influence for punk rock dates back to the 1960s with glam rock, psychedelia and reggae casting the genre’s musical mold. By the mid-1970s, economic turmoil and the need for a sense of togetherness inspired the first blips of coinciding punk movements in New York and London.
Now, much like how 40 years have passed since Milo Aukerman first left his band, Descendants, to pursue a college degree in biochemistry, punk itself has grown up to be a middle-aged genre. Despite this marker of time, as the beginning of punk has grown older, the list of the genre’s new acts continues to grow in the modern-day — and it’s not looking like it will stop soon. Here are four punk albums turning 40 in 2022 and how their influence lives on as they reach middle age, as well as what new music you might like if you enjoy these classics.
This is not to say that all of the new artists listed were directly influenced by the predecessor, but more act as suggestions towards those who enjoyed the blueprint work.
Bad Brains – “Bad Brains”
Released February 5, 1982
As the caricature of the Capitol Building being struck by lightning on the album’s cover depicts, the band’s hometown of Washington D.C. was moved by Bad Brains’ debut on the punk scene. In fact, the band received pushback from the D.C. area, resulting in the band’s ban from numerous clubs in the city. Bad Brains consisted of all Black men. The band championed themes of unity and fringe from what was “acceptable” as a musician, as the lyrics to songs like “Banned in D.C.” emphasize. Bad Brains are a powerhouse of history for not only the genre itself, but also Black artists within it.
Similar to how Bad Brains champions blending genres such as metal, funk and reggae to create their sound, their influence bleeds into a multitude of today’s musical stylings. From superstar The Weeknd attributing his work to the credit of Bad Brains to experimental rap titleholder Death Grips sampling their predecessors, the group’s influence fails to be abjured by time.
The Clash – “Combat Rock”
Released May 14, 1982
Serving as an initial liaison for punk rock in the stomping grounds of England, The Clash drifted into the territory of new wave and funk on their album release “Combat Rock” in 1982. The quartet played a solidifying role in the London scene of punk rock history.
Something that remained consistent over The Clash’s discography is frontman Joe Strummer’s unmistakable English accent — something that up-and-coming rockers Yard Act live up to on their debut album “The Overload.” The album’s treble-y guitar intro and busy, compact drum groove might appeal to those who want to hear The Clash live in the modern-day.
Descendents – “Milo Goes To College”
Released September 4, 1982
“Milo Goes to College” was a product of what happens when a band dealing with a member going to college dips their toes into the world of Los Angeles punk rock and hardcore. The caricature of Milo himself, used as the album cover, has become a synonymous message for the influence of punk rock and the band’s youthful, hard-hitting musicality.
Descendents’ knack for sarcasm and witty lyrics, present on tracks such as “Suburban Home,” is reminiscent of pop punk contemporaries and LA-based neighbors illuminati hotties’ debut album “Let Me Do One More.” Tracks like “Pool Hopping” capture the off-kilter, out there lyricism and song titles paired with a fun and hard-fast tempo, on par with Descendents’ unique sound.
The Go Go’s – “Vacation”
Released June 26, 1982
Per their website, The Go-Go’s are the “most successful female rock band of all time.” Forming their roots among the Los Angeles punk scene and developing a repertoire for performances amongst historically-rich LA nightclubs, it’s formative that the band practiced punk before their chart-topping hits took to the airwaves down the line. Just in case there are reservations that a chart-topping band can still be labeled “punk,” this original version of “Vacation,” stylized by bassist Kathy Valentine’s first band, Textones, highlights the track in its bare-bones, punk essence:
The 2021 single “Let Me Go” by VALERAS is a new twist on the framework that The Go-Go’s left for fiddling with. The song strikes a sense of adventure and exploration over a fast tempo and dreamy plucked guitars, similar to The Go-Go’s style.