September 16, 2009
Now that the radical punch of punk seems no more potent than a daisy in a National Guardsman’s rifle, the artsy-fartsy fundament of its posture has become as evident — and as significant — as its street snarl. The fact that COLIN NEWMAN (born 1954) formed Wire with pals in art school, or that his lyrics are saturated with avant-garde influences, does not undermine punk’s bid for negative authenticity; it is the bid. “Anger is an energy,” sang a post-Pistols John Lydon; for Newman (who, like Mission of Burma’s Roger Miller, sings like he’s thinking and dodging thought at the same time), anger is a gesture: the slice of the cut-up, the quick jab of intelligence itself, “intended to pierce.” Wire’s early records not only mapped and scrambled the zone between punk and post-punk, but between tone-deaf riffage and “atonality”: the burst of skronk in Chairs Missing’s safety-pinned grinder “Sand in My Joints” is a case in point. Newman’s post-Wire work continued this hi-lo tango, juxtaposing scintillating pop hooks and odd formal experiments, like all-instrumental auto-remixes named after fish. Landing, the forthcoming record from Newman’s latest band, Githead, is razorsharp and driving, though it lacks snot.
PUNK, POST-PUNK & ALTERNATIVE on HILOBROW: Joey Ramone | Dez Cadena | Jello Biafra | HR | Mike Watt | Vivienne Westwood | Iggy Pop | D. Boon | John Lydon | Henry Rollins | Palmolive | Plastic Bertrand | Kira Roessler | Lisa Carver | Frank Black | Ari Up | Gary Panter | Mike Watt | Ian Curtis | Paul Simonon | Darby Crash | Penelope Houston | Exene Cervenka | Sid Vicious | Andrew Eldritch | Kate Pierson | Richard Hell | Paul Westerberg | Lux Interior | Ian Dury | Stiv Bators | Tom Verlaine | Colin Newman | Johnny Thunders | Poison Ivy | Green Gartside | Lydia Lunch | Mark E. Smith | David Byrne | Debbie Harry | Captain Sensible | Mark Mothersbaugh | Kim Gordon | ALSO: The Original Generation X (1954–63) and the birth of DIY | The Original Stooge | Origin of the Pogo | Shocking Blocking: Rock’n’Roll High School | Punk fanzines from the 1970s | Post-Punk and New Wave on HiLobrow
READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Boomer (1944–53) Generation and the Original Generation X (1954–63).