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The rise of the Punk Rock movement was one of the most significant musical and cultural events of the 1970s. Since the early days of Punk, music critics, social commentators and academics have attempted to analyze punk music and the social and economic conditions that contributed to its development. The influence of the original Punk Rock movement can be heard in many of today’s underground and independent artists and bands. The do-it-yourself ethos of punk is especially visible in Indie Rock artists, who have avoided involvement with large corporations and record labels, choosing to produce and distribute their work themselves.
The following pathfinder serves as an introduction to some of the many resources available to anyone interested in learning more about punk and indie rock music and culture.
The main Library of Congress subject headings related to Punk Rock are Punk Rock Music and Punk Culture. Both of these may be narrowed down geographically if you are interested in the punk movement only for a specific geographic era, for example, Punk Rock Music – England. Many works by historians or music critics may be found under the subject heading Punk Rock Music – History and Criticism. As with most popular music materials, the call numbers for most Punk Rock publications start with ML 3534.
While there are no Library of Congress subject headings specifically for Indie Rock, you may find relevant materials by searching using the headings Alternative Rock Music or Rock Music – 1981-1990 or Rock Music – 1991-2000. These headings may also be further narrowed using geographic areas. You may also want to search by specific band or artist names.
Punk has been the subject of a number of academic studies and first-hand accounts. The first four books on this list are academic studies, which tend to provide in-depth analysis of the social and cultural forces which contributed to the movement. The last four are documentary accounts and essays recounting specific events and artists in punk’s history. The Bangs and McNeil/McCain books are especially notable as often humorous first-hand accounts of the beginnings of punk.
Dick Hebdige. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. (London: Methuen, 1979).
Greil Marcus. Lipstick Traces A Secret History of the Twentieth Century. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989).
Roger Sabin, editor. Punk Rock : So What? : The Cultural Legacy of Punk. (London ; New York : Routledge, 1999).
Jon Savage. England’s Dreaming : Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock and Beyond. (New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1993).
Lester Bangs, edited by Greil Marcus. Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. (New York: Vintage Books, 1988).
Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. Please Kill Me : The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. (New York: Penguin Books, 1997).
Yvonne Sewell Ruskin. High on Rebellion : Inside the Underground at Max’s Kansas City. (New York: Thunders Mouth Press, 1998).
V. Vale, editor. Search &Destroy : An Authoritative Guide to Punk History. (San Francisco: V/Search, 1996).
Since it is a more recent phenomenon, there has been much less academic study of Indie Rock than of Punk. Some of the best print resources, for both Punk and Indie Rock, are zines, independently produced magazines which document particular bands, geographic scenes, or musical sub-genres. Some of the most prominent zines for Indie Rock are Forced Exposure and Chickfactor. The more mainstream periodicals Puncture and CMJ Music Monthly also provide information on Indie Rock. These and smaller zines can often be found in independent record stores or online at Insound. The following three books may also be of use to people interested in Indie Rock.
Michael Galinsky. Scraps. (New York: Verse Chorus Press, 1999).
Ira A. Robbins and David Sprague. The Trouser Press guide to ’90s rock. (New York : Simon &Schuster, 1997).
Richie Unterberger. Unknown legends of rock ‘n’ roll: psychedelic unknowns, mad geniuses, punk pioneers, lo-fi mavericks &more. (San Francisco : Miller Freeman, 1998).
For historical punk information, consult the following sites:
All Music Guide Punk Rock (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=C204)
The All Music Guide entry on punk contains essays on punk history as well as links to sub-genres, band biographies, album reviews, and musical maps, as well as lists of representative artists and albums.
Experience Music Project – Punk Chronology (http://www.emplive.com/explore/punk_chron/)
An examination of punk from its American roots with the MC5, The Stooges and Velvet Underground to its more contemporary incarnations.
We Created It: Let’s Take It Over (http://www.inch.com/~jessamin/)
Contains historical essays on aspects of the early punk movement, with particular focus on the New York scene.
Search &Destroy, The Punk Rock &Roll Search Engine (http://www.trashsurfin.de/)
Thorough listing of punk-related links to web sites. Includes categories for genres, time periods and other resources.
There are thousands of punk rock web sites dealing with current bands and sub-genres of punk rock music. The Yahoo and Google directories provide listings for a number of these sites.
Yahoo Directory – Entertainment > Music > Genres > Rock and Pop > Punk and Hardcore > (http://dir.yahoo.com/Entertainment/Music/Genres/Rock_and_Pop/Punk_and_Hardcore/)
Google Directory: Arts > Music > Styles > Rock > Punk (http://directory.google.com/Top/Arts/Music/Styles/Rock/Punk/)
One example of these sites is Punknews.org:
Focused on current punk music, provides viewer-submitted news stories, reviews, new release lists, and links to punk record labels.
SoYouWanna Fake Being An Indie Rock Expert (http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/syws/indierock/indierock.html)
A humorous and mostly accurate introduction to the world of indie rock.
All Music Guide Indie Rock (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=C2687)
Although the entry is brief, it does provide a jumping off point for links to indie rock and pop bands and sub-genres, as well as lists of representative artists and albums.
While primarily an online music store for independent label music, Insound also provides articles and essays, reviews, band photographs, and audio clips for a wide range of bands.
Includes a comprehensive database of information on indiepop bands, record labels, zines, and other resources. Also provides a link to the archives of the Indiepop listserv.
Provides extensive links to other indiepop sites and downloadable MP3 files for a number of bands.
Experience Music Project – Riot Grrrl Retrospective (http://www.emplive.com/explore/riot_grrrl/)
The Experience Music Project has an excellent online exhibit that explores one of the most visible indie rock movements of the 1990s. They also have exhibits featuring some prominent indie bands such as Built to Spill and Seam.
Record label pages are an excellent source for information on bands, and often include articles and press releases, discographies, audio samples, and images. Two of the most well-known indie labels are Matador Records (http://www.matadorrecords.com/) and K Records (http://www.kpunk.com/).
This pathfinder created by Dan Santamaria