Since 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the Ramones’ classic self-titled debut, the existing state of punk is up for review. There’s no question that the contemporary landscape in punk music and culture looks remarkably different from 1976, or even 2006. The last 10 years alone have seen the movement sprouting new genres, legacies and heroes in the most unlikely places, making waves far beyond the American punk strongholds of New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
The past decade in punk has accommodated an expansion of sounds; ex-hardcore staples Ceremony retreated to Manchester circa 1979 for their post-punky 2015 release The L-Shaped Man, whereas Title Fight borrowed from 1991 to produce their soupy shoegaze venture, 2015’s Hyperview. Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace evolved from Floridian anarchist balladeer to global rock icon with the 2014 release of Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Also resurgent is the riot grrrl ethos, whether it’s through Pussy Riot storming the Kremlin or DIY-oriented Girls Rock camps cropping up across the United States. Thanks to a growing demand for better exposure for black artists (and their predecessors), the annual Afropunk Festival has created a space where Bad Brains, Trash Talk and Body Count can play alongside acts like D’Angelo and SZA.
Who do we think of when we look to define punk in this present moment? Who speaks to the context of now? We highlight some American punk bands that best exemplify the current scene — and will arguably impact the shape of punk to come.