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What Is Punk? A Short Overview of Punk Rock Justin Tuesday 05 April 2005

Punk rock can be broken up into several different sub-genres. While very different in some ways, all of these share common characteristics. This short 'guide' will help dispel the different stereotypes of certain types of music, and maybe expose you to some new music as well...



Punk Rock: The most general classification, almost all punk bands, whether they fall into this category solely, or fall into others as well, can be put into this. This label by itself should strictly be used with bands that don't fit anywhere else (ex. Bad Religion, Rancid).

Hardcore: Hardcore is a term used to describe the heaviest type of punk music. Usually the most aggressive form of punk both sonically and lyrically, many look past hardcore as nothing more than screaming. But, if you really look into it at all, you are guaranteed to find it can be much, much more. Bands like Agnostic Front, Death by Stereo, and Black Flag show that hardcore can utilize skill, emotion, and intelligence to form a thought-provoking sonic assault.

Emo: Yes, the often misunderstood form of music called emo. Bands like Saves the Day and Dashboard Confessional have turned quite alot of people away from emo. Alot of people believe stereotypes that emo is all dull, bland, whiny-ass "She dumped me, what will I do?" lyrics sung over cheap three chord pop-punk melodies. That is far from true. Bands like Hot Water Music, The Used, Brand New, and Glassjaw show that emo can be deep and thought out, instead of just whiny. And, Fugazi are credited being one of the 'founding' bands of emo.. I don't see anyone who's going to call Ian MacKaye (former singer of Minor Threat, now the singer of Fugazi) whiny.

Pop-punk: Another genre of punk that is often unfairly stereotyped. People don't seem to realize that when they bash pop-punk because of bands like Simple Plan, Blink 182, New Found Glory, All American Rejects, Sum 41, etc. that they are bashing alot of what punk is based on. Come on, people, you know as well as I do that The Ramones were a pop-punk band. And you also know, at least most of you, that you at one time did or still do credit The Ramones with starting the punk scene. Pop-punk is a sound, it doesn't mean it's popular MTV music. NOFX, The Ramones, Screeching Weasel, Squirtgun, Guttermouth, No Use for a Name, Goldfinger... all these bands are at least somewhat pop-punk, most of them are completely pop-punk bands. Although pop-punk is also used to describe all those 'MTV bands,' it doesn't mean that's all pop-punk is.

Ska: Ska is another form of music usually closely related to punk. Ska is often similar to reggae and punk, and also commonly uses horns. Ska is usually more upbeat than the other genres of punk, probably because of the horns. Reel Big Fish, Catch 22, Sublime, Less than Jake, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are some examples of modern ska.

Well, that about sums up my overview of the different kinds of punk music that are out there. Although they all sound different, if it's real quality punk music, the energy will be the same anywhere you look.

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