Punk Band Essentials

Goth/ Post Punk/Alternative Bands

A lot of folks seem to be a little lost when first setting foot into the goth subculture and don’t know where to go for band recommendations. Here’s a list of important, influential bands that contributed to the goth subculture – along with several favs – I put together with Dean (angry punk pictured above).

In order to avoid classification issues, they’re categorized by sound rather than specific genre. Keep in mind that this list is personal, and most importantly, ever growing! So, here we go:

Sounds dead or undead:

  • Bauhaus (1978-2008) “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is a national anthem. Lead singer Peter Murphy has really pointy cheek bones.
  • Peter Murphy (1983-present) his solo work, not as angular as his facial features.
  • Love and Rockets (1985-present) Peter Murphy got stuck hanging upside  down on stage and the Bauhaus members formed a band without him.
  • Joy Division (1976-1980) Ian Curtis was an energetic dancer, to say the least. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Transmission” are famous songs.
  • The Sisters of Mercy (1980-present) Andrew Eldritch is not goth, he swears.
  • The Cure (1976-present) lead singer Robert Smith is a giant cat with red lipstick. He cries on stage and his tears cure cancer.
  • Cocteau Twins (1979-1997)
  • Sex Gang Children (1991-present)
  • Wire (1976-1980) seriously underrated. Would recommend the album “Pink Flag”.
  • Lydia Lunch amazing female singer. Try the album “13.13”.
  • Clan of Xymox (1983-present) are you kidding no one’s voice is this deep.
  • The Chameleons (1981-2003) has the ability to sound woeful yet jolly.
  • The Mission (1986-present) “Into the Blue” is a good start.
  • Depeche Mode (1980-present) dark and gloomy synths. Known for “Personal Jesus”, “Enjoy the Silence”, “Never let Me Down Again” and a billion others.
  • Fields of the Nephilim (1984-present) vocalist Carl McCoy is a desert cowboy.
  • The March Violets (1981-present) listen to “The Botanic Verses”.
  • The Bolshoi (1983-1988) start with the album “Friends”.
  • The Danse Society (1980-present) try the album “Heaven is Waiting”.
  • The Southern Death Cult (1981-1983) has a song called “Fatman”. Ian Astbury teamed up with Billy Duffy from Theatre of Hate to create Death Cult which later became The Cult, another band worth checking out.
  • Play Dead (1981-1985) doesn’t like being called goth. Musicians that don’t like being labeled? Unheard of.
  • Corpus Delicti (1993-1998) name means “body of crime”. Just saying.
  • Nosferatu (1988-present) actual vampires making music.
  • Big Electric Cat
  • Rosetta Stone
  • Susperia
  • Mephisto Walz (1985-present)
  • The Wake pretty sure Eldritch’s cousin is in the video “Christine”.
  • Echo & the Bunnymen (1978-present) known for “The Killing Moon” which you might remember from the movie Donnie Darko.
  • The Jesus & Mary Chain (1983-present) known for “Just Like Honey”.
  • Children on Stun (1991-present) would recommend the song “Whiskey a Go-Go”, you’ll be…*lowers sun glasses* stunned.
  • Dead Can Dance (1981-present)
  • And Also the Trees (1979-present) the dictionary definition of “dark and brooding”.
  • Red Lorry Yellow Lorry (1981-present)
  • Magazine (1977-2011) listen to the album “Real Life”.
  • Concrete Blonde (1986-present)
  • Gene Loves Jezebel (1980-present)
  • Tones on Tail (1982-1984) Daniel Ash’s (Bauhaus) illegitimate child side project.
  • Curve (1990-2005) Toni Haliday’s seductive alto voice against a backdrop of layered guitars and drum loops; fans of Curve generally regard Garbage as having stole their shtick and made it pop-friendly.
  • Bella Morte (1996-present)
  • Leæther Strip (1988-present) with forays into industrial/ebm; Highly Recommend “Serenade For The Dead” and “Self-Inflicted”.
  • Love Like Blood (1989-2011) the Sisters of Mercy and Type O Negative’s German child.
  • The Merry Thoughts (1983-1998) another German band that sounds like the Sisters of Mercy.
  • A Pale Horse Named Death (2011-present) another Type O Negative offshoot, this band has the original drummer on vocals and their drummer on drums. Very dark and devoid of Type O’s black humor, but still a great listen.
  • The Cruxshadows (1992-present) an alternative musical start for many. The important thing: spiky hair.
  • Light Asylum (2010-present)

Deathrockers and undead punks:

  • Christian Death (1979-present) founded by Rozz Williams, but faced several line up issues (a second Christian Death featured Valor Kand rather than Rozz Williams). Known for “Romeo’s Distress”. Start with “Only Theatre of Pain” then “Catastrophe Ballet”.
  • Specimen (1980-present) features the cofounder of the Batcave. Best known for “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and Johnny Slut being awesome.
  • Cinema Strange (1994-present) listen to the album of the same name. Known for their acts on stage.
  • The Deadfly Ensemble similar in feel to Cinema Strange with the same “story telling” aspect.
  • Catholic Spit
  • Voodoo Church (1982-present)
  • Misfits (1977-present) 1950s horror told by crazy guys with guitars and muscles. Personal favorite album: “Static Age”. Singer Glenn Danzig went on to create Danzig. Also make your day better by listening to the “Monster Mash” cover.
  • The Cramps (1976-2009) originators of “psychobilly”. Highly original and sleazy with class.
  • Alien Sex Fiend (1982-present) husband and wife that sound like legit extra-terrestrials. Proof that there is no such thing as taking yourself seriously.
  • The Damned (1976-present) lead singer, Dave Vanian, is a vampire.
  • Blood and Roses underrated. Listen to “Your Sin is Your Salvation”.
  • The Birthday Party (1977-1983) pretty jazzy. Nick Cave, vocalist, likes to wear suits and release bats from caves.
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (1984-present) this guys is so interesting he is set apart from the Bad Seeds and he has a movie.
  • Virgin Prunes (1977-1986) known for “Baby Turns Blue”.
  • The Psychedelic Furs (1977-present) remember the movie “Pretty in Pink”? Well there. Try the album “Psychedelic Furs”!
  • Anorexic Dread (1983-1985) short lived but worth knowing.
  • Flesh for Lulu (1982-present)
  • UK Decay (1978-present)
  • Lene Lovich “I Think We’re Alone Now”
  • Skeletal Family (1982-present)
  • Klaus Nomi (1977-1983) the late artist sounded like he looked: surprised and hauntingly original.
  • The Morgans (mid 1990s-1996) try “Half Girl Half Jesus”.
  • Xmal Deutschland (1980-1990)
  • XTC (1972-2006)

Angry about something:

  • Siouxsie and the Banshees (1976-2002) pronounced “Suzy”. I know you know, but I didn’t at first. “Spellbound, “Happy House”, “Cities in Dust”, plenty to listen to. And, Siouxsie Sioux rocks.
  • Killing Joke  (1978-present) where do I begin? Do I begin at all? You know what, it doesn’t matter if you skip this entire list and just listen to this one band. I’ll spare you the essay and recommend the album of the same name, “Laugh? I nearly bought one!”, “Democracy”, “Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions” and “Pandemonium”. More than the sound are the lyrics, the members and the message.
  • 1919 (1980-present) underrated to the extreme. Similar to Killing Joke in sound and vibe.
  • Nina Hagen (1971-present) she’s wicked cool, in sound and style. And also she’s German.
  • Type O Negative (1990-2010) American metal band with widely respected singer/bassist, the late Peter Steele.
  • 45 Grave (1979-present)
  • Swans (1982-present)
  • The Stranglers (1974-present)
  • New Model Army (1980-present)
  • Public Image Limited aka PIL (1978-present) John Lydon’s [aka Jonny Rotten of Sex Pistols] post-punk band that created gems like “The Order of Death” and “Rise”.
  • Life of Agony (1989-present) Alternative metal band from Brooklyn. Had Type O Negative’s original drummer after he left. Slightly thrashy, but sludgy and dark as well.

Witchy, “psycho-delic” or heavily historical:

Discombobulated former construction workers:

Presumably angry punks:

  • Dead Kennedys (1978-1986) featured living people and some unforgettable tunes, notably from the album “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables”.
  • Sex Pistols (1975-2008) So punk, much anarchy.
  • Bad Brains (1977-present) a mix of punk and reggae, a genre within itself that redefined the scene.
  • Black Flag (1976-present)
  • Minor Threat (1980-1983) accidentally slipped and gave birth to straight edgers.
  • Fugazi (1987-2002) with vocalist Ian MacKaye from Minor Threat.
  • Adolescents (1980-present) pfff, these guys are totally adults.
  • The Clash (1976-1985) “London Calling” is trying to reach you.
  • Joan Jett a fine lady that doesn’t give an inkling of care about her unfavorable reputation.
  • Plasmatics (1977-1988)
  • X-Ray Spex (1976-present) featuring the ever so awesome and PVC’s opposite, Poly Styrene.
  • Television (1973-present)
  • Bad Religion (1979-present) – note: skip “Into The Unknown”, everything else is golden

Halloween Town escapees:

  • Voltaire evil top hat wearer that was featured in an episode of Billy and Mandy’s Grim Adventures.
  • Creature Feature did you know? Edward Gorey and Danny Elfman had kids.
  • Nox Arcana creepy soundtrack for your life…or afterlife.

More freaky people:

  • Tom Waits (1949-present) the essence of a Western.
  • David Bowie (1964-present) commonly referred to as “God”.
  • Leonard Cohen (1967-present) he’s Canadian.
  • John Cale (1965-present)
  • Propaganda (1982-2005)
  • Culture Club (1982-1986) just, Boy George.
  • Nico former Velvet Underground member, German ex-model singing songs titled things like “Janitor of Lunacy” off-key.
  • The Smiths (1982-1987) Morrissey is like the Charlie Brown of British pop music: he’ll never win, and therefore is One Of Us.