Last month, we tackled a top 10 list of albums we considered the best of the UK post-punk movement. And looking back, it’s impressive just how much influence many of those bands (The Cure, Joy Division et al.) played on underground music for decades to come. But this month, we cross back over the Atlantic to highlight their American counterparts. If Great Britain had a singularly dark and art-damaged take on punk and progressive permutations on it, then their American peers were considerably less unified. The spirit of it was certainly there — the early ’80s giving rise to D.I.Y. punk tours and greater experimentation within hardcore and punk’s aggressive framework. But the outcome wildly varied. There’s not much that bands like Television, Pere Ubu and Swans share in common — other than timeframe and home country. And yet, from the late ’70s on up to the early ’90s, there was an intense burst of creative energy that changed American music as we know it. So, now that we’ve highlighted the best of the UK, here are 10 essential American post punk albums.
Television – Marquee Moon (1977; Elektra)
Inspiring the likes of R.E.M, Joy Division and beyond, Marquee Moon can claim a great deal of responsibility for kicking off the eventual popularization of many of punk’s various offshoots. Equally comfortable performing jangly, well orchestrated pop-rock (“See No Evil”) and expansive, disorienting journeys (the title track), Television went above and beyond the call of duty on their debut, earning a seat at the center of New York City’s growing underground. Painting a romantic yet self-aware image of NYC nightlife, Marquee Moon’s poetic edge fits in nicely alongside an album like Patti Smith’s Horses; a love story, but not without its fair share of scorn. And, sonically, Television found an interesting niche floating somewhere between British blues and the American jam band, but with a spicy edge and a punk rock ethos that can still be heard in the guitar stylings of many modern indie rock acts. Thirty-seven years later, Marquee Moon sounds as innovative as it ever did. – ATB