Rock is Alive! In Great Britain – Part 2 (Post Brexit New Wave).


This is Part 2 of a blog series looking at the revitalization of rock in Great Britain and the hope that it will soon make its way to the United States.


About a year ago Matthew Perpetua, in an article for NPR, coined the phrase Post Brexit New Wave. Perpetua was attempting to capture the essence of new rock music coming out of England post-Brexit, post-punk, post-rock, and at the time hopefully post-pandemic. The music is characterized by someone talking over post-punk or rock music. Perpetua mentioned the bands Squid, Dry Cleaning, Yard Act, Fontaines D.C., and Black Country, New Road to name a few. At the time it felt like a movement that might last a season in Great Britain and Ireland and then fade away.


Then thing is, Post Brexit New Wave didn’t fade away. Bands kept experimenting with the sound and kept producing better and better songs. Just a few quick examples. During the summer and fall of 2021 Wet Leg mesmerized American college radio stations and their listeners with “Chaise Longue” an earworm of monotoned vocals laid over a hip bass line. This January Yard Act released the album The Overload. The band showed how diverse the sound could be. The album ranges from straight ahead post-punk on songs like “The Overload,” to a little Talking Heads or B-52 kitsch on “Pour Another,” and then peaking beautifully with the song “Dead Horse” that features lead singer James Smith’s rhythmic narrative over rubbery funk/rock music that brings to mind the band Cake. Then there is Black Country, New Road’s new album which features a song, “Chaos Space Marine,” that sounds like a stage actor performing with an orchestra in the pit below. This isn't a fading style. Rather its a genre is still being defined. These bands are still innovating and pushing the boundaries of what this style of music is going to be.


So, what does this mean for the American rock music scene? Judging from Coin’s new song, “Chapstick,” it means that the innovation coming out of Great Britain is starting to influence American music. “Chapstick” is a Post Brexit New Wave song. It opens with distorted southern rock electric guitar riffs and then kicks into Chase Lawrence talking over a beat and bass licks. The song has so many good elements from various musical genres and styles, but the Post Brexit New Wave influence is evident.


If you hear more examples of this style of music outside of British and Irish artist let me know. Next time we look at British bands that would be classified as rock or commercial rock.


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