Recommended Post-Punk Bands

By SarahFreer SarahFreer
updated 2 months ago

This is a list of my favorite bands falling under the genres of post-punk, deathrock, gothic rock, new wave, no wave, darkwave, coldwave, dark cabaret, and some new romantics thrown in. These are in no particular order.

  1. Cinema Strange

    Possibly my favorite band. Though founded in 1994 their sound seems like it was ripped from the 80s deathrock scene. Most similar to Virgin Prunes and Sex Gang Children. Vocalist Lucas Lanthier is often compared to Andi Sexgang. Brothers Mik and Daniel Ribiat are skilled at their instruments and blend perfectly with Lanthier's vocals (somehow). Check out their website and look at some of the song meanings and interviews. Heavily inspired by various fantasy and horror items both in literature and the media. Their live shows are a blend of theater art and concert. Unique take on deathrock fashion, eerie cow masks for no reason, odd props, loads of strange dancing, the whole 9 yards. Refreshingly original and bordering on pleasant insanity.
    Starter Songs: "Speak Marauder", "Hebenon Vial", "Greensward Grey"

  2. The Deadfly Ensemble

    The side project for Lucas Lanthier of Cinema Strange. Think less deathrock, more dark cabaret and confusion. Lovely confusion though. Like the type of music you would play at a fancy mansion party where everyone mysteriously gets killed. Still a strong eerie deathrock meets classical meets cabaret sound though.
    Starter Songs: "Marvelous Murdress", "Midsummer William

  3. Bauhaus

    One of the "starter pack" bands for classic goth rock. In fact, this band coined the term as they were the first to launch the gloomy post-punk scene. Peter Murphy's unique baritone voice is quite fitting for a dark artistic band. Of course one cannot forget the skills of David J., Daniel Ash, and Kevin Haskins to bring the rest of the sound full circle.
    Starter Songs: "Nerves", "She's In Parties", "Dark Entries", "Telegram Sam", "The Man With the X-Ray Eyes

  4. The Cure

    Though not exactly a goth band (as so often stated by the incredible Robert Smith despite his appearance), The Cure remain beloved to both the 80's commercial and alternative scenes due to their vast range of styles in their discography. The early stuff is often revered as the best among those who dislike the sound typically associated with other popular bands of the era. Plus, there would be far fewer trad goths walking around with large masses of backcombed hair were there no Robert Smith or Simon Gallup. So that's good I guess?
    Starter Songs: "One Hundred Years", "Primary", "Jumping Someone Else's Train", "A Forest", "Fascination Street"

  5. Joy Division

    Though stolen by hipsters for a brief period for the sake of t-shirts and Unknown Pleasures tattoos (thanks), Joy Division remains a complex and introspective band with a punk-gone-synthesizer sound. Ian Curtis's slew of depressing vocals really set an ironic tone for a band that makes people feel so happy. Well, some people happy. Those not familiar are going to yell at you to hit skip and take the aux cord away from you because its too depressing. In that situation, max the volume and throw the device into the backseat.
    Starter Songs: "Digital", "They Walked In Line", "Transmission", "Love Will Tear Us Apart"

  6. The Birthday Party

    Is heroin bad? Yes. Does it create absolute masterpieces in music? Also yes. This is possibly one of the most chaotic bands on the post-punk scene, getting rejected by the punks and most everyone else in that time for being too weird. Take Nick Cave's beautiful screeching™, Rowland S. Howard's ghoulish guitar sound, combine it with an excellent combination of steady drums and grooving bass, throw in some insane stage movements and cowboy hats, and put it in a blender and you've got The Birthday Party. Its truly a thing of beauty.
    Starter Songs: "She's Hit", "Fears of Gun", "A Dead Song", "Release the Bats"

  7. The Boys Next Door

    The first incarnation of The Birthday Party happened to be called The Boys Next Door. Their album "Door, Door" doesn't get nearly as much credit as it deserves. It was the launching point for the famous Nick Cave and the less-famous-but-still-needs-to-be-appreciated Rowland. S. Howard. In my opinion Cave's voice, though quite young sounding for those familiar with his works, is nearly at its prime. Before the loads of heroin and other substances took their toll on each member, they were still trying to figure out their sound and loved to experiment in whatever sounded odd while maintaining some semblance of coherence. Lacking in the Nick Cave Screeching™, this incarnation of the band is ideal for those who would like to hear a slightly cleaner sound than that of The Birthday Party's discography.
    Starter Songs: "Shivers" (Nick Cave version), "After a Fashion", "The Voice", "Brave Exhibitions

  8. Rowland S. Howard

    When I hear the words under appreciated, Rowland S. Howard is the first thing that comes to mind. Writing "Shivers" at age 16, Howard had a sound like no others. Incredible wailing guitar with haunting monotone vocals are his trademark. He was like a more depressed, less homosexual version of Lou Reed. Maybe if Lou Reed had a straight son who dropped out of law school. Just me? All of his ghoulish guitar is elevated by the melancholy yet happy vibe given off by the music. It creates an atmosphere of bittersweet with every song. Teenage Snuff Film is possibly one of the most impressively raw albums I have ever listened to. His collaboration with Lydia Lunch on Shotgun Wedding is also worth noting.
    Starter Songs: "Shivers" (Rowland S. Howard version), "Sleep Alone", "Silver Chain", "I Burnt Your Clothes", "Dead Radio", "Solar Hex", "The Gospel Singer

  9. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

    After The Birthday Party inevitably imploded, Nick Cave went off on his own. The early stuff sounded quite similar to his old band before he branched out and fully evolved into his more mature sound. He mellowed out and he no longer used the caterwauling voice previously appreciated for its insanity. Instead he traded in for deep and slow tunes reminiscent of funeral dirges with tales of violence and love heavily inspired by The New Testament. Having a family and getting clean caused a complete 180 in Cave's music career, pushing him towards the classic and romantic.
    Starter Songs: "Do You Love Me", "Jangling Jack", "Song of Joy", "(Are You) The One I've Been Waiting For", "Lime Tree Arbor", "Into My Arms", "The Weeping Song"

  10. Alien Sex Fiend

    What happens when you combine industrial with some goths and a crap ton of LSD/shrooms? Alien Sex Fiend. Heavy industrial tunes with synthesizer and the eerie nearly-spoken-word voice of Nik Fiend form a band that sounds the way gasoline smells. Truly a unique and enjoyable experience to listen to. Plus his wife (AKA Mrs. Fiend) is in the band, which is pretty much the greatest thing if you ask me.
    Starter Songs: "Ignore the Machine", "I'm Doing Time in a Maximum Security Twilight Home", "Now I'm Feeling Zombified", "RIP"

  11. Specimen

    I would first of all like to state that Ollie Wisdom is a dead ringer for Dr. Frank N Furter of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Second, this glam-meets-goth is one of the bands that spread the influence of the goth scene and heavily influenced the fashion thanks to Johnny Slut. Owning the now famous Bat Cave club meant almost nothing back in their prime day, but now its oversold as the height of goth. Despite how they were viewed in the 80's versus now, the band has always held a genuine enjoyment in taking the scene to the extreme. Specimen has always been a quality band that isn't afraid to take goth to fun and ridiculous levels.
    Starter Songs: "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", "Beauty of Poisin", "Holes", "Sharp Teeth Pretty Teeth

  12. The Sisters Of Mercy

    Oh boy. Andrew Eldritch would probably materialize and slap me across the face for putting him on a gothic list if he could. Despite his bitterness at being labeled a goth band, the Sisters had an undeniable impact on the music and culture. Absolutely rich, full, and gloomy sounding with the iconic resounding deep voice of Andrew Eldritch. If I could describe the Sister's music as anything, the first word that comes to mind other than "sunglasses" is indulgent.
    Starter Songs: "A Rock and A Hard Place", "Nine While Nine", "Lucretia My Reflection", "This Corrosion", "Kiss the Carpet", "Ribbons", "Driven Like the Snow", "Body Electric"

  13. Soft Cell

    Before I get yelled at for putting them on this list, New Wave/New Romantics are a part of this list so fight me. Where to even start with Soft Cell. The popular duo took mainstream 80's music and added a sleaziness factor not found anywhere else. Its the kind of music you'd listen to wandering down a random sketchy alleyway with blinding neon lights at night after downing 7 five hour energies in a big city. Picture the smell of any college classroom where no one knows how to correctly estimate the amount of perfume and cologne they should wear, turning the very air into a nauseating cloud of sickly sweet smog choking you to death. Imagine that as a sound and it would be the Soft Cell duo. Their debut album "Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret" is incredibly fun to listen to despite its success on the UK charts. Even though they are on the mainstream side of the 80's, they never took themselves seriously and were always rather tongue-in-cheek about everything they did. Soft Cell described the typical seedy city life in a way no one else did during that era, embracing the cliches of pop sound while mocking it. They definitely sparked their fair share of controversy in the 80's. Plus Marc Almond even got his drug dealer to sing on their debut album. You know, the normal thing to do.
    Starter Songs: "Entertain Me", "Bedsitter", "Divided Soul", "Tainted Love", "Where Did Our Love Go", "Insecure....Me?", "Seedy Films", "Torch"

  14. 14

    Samhain

    Samhain

    After the infamous Glenn Danzig departed from The Misfits, Samhain crawled out from the Misfit's remains like its angsty horror child. No one knew what to call it, and its still debated to even belong in the deathrock family. Though not aligning to the sound of classic deathrock, Samhain definitely deserves some place within the genre, wherever that may be. It sort of just gets lumped into deathrock because no one feels like debating it anymore. Samhain is basically the weird distant cousin no one talks about. That one guy that you've never seen but sometimes hear about so you aren't even sure how you are related. That dude. Though there were some blatantly recycled Misfits tracks in their short discography, there was plenty of fantastic original work from the mind of Glenn Danzig. As one would expect from Danzig, plenty of fun, macabre, cliche, ripping tracks. If you have the time, definitely look up the story of the "Initium" album's first pressing. Classic Glenn Danzig. At least everyone lived to tell the story? I guess nothing went to court so I'm assuming Glenn kept his cool (well, as much as you can after doing the human equivalent of rolling a natural 20 on an intimidation check to force a manager to do whatever you want).
    Starter Songs: "All Murder, All Guts, All Fun", "In My Grip", "Let The Day Begin", "Black Dream", "All Hell", "To Walk the Night"

  15. The Damned

    The Damned have been many things, but regretful and restrained are not among them. Starting out as a highly influential first wave UK punk band, they quickly got bored of punk scene once it became rather commercial in the mid 80's. They had always been set apart for the voice of Dave Vanian and their penchant for the gothic. They wanted to change, but no one else wanted them to, so of course they changed. Vanian said screw you, grew out his hair, started dressing like a vampire, and married Patricia Morrisson from The Sisters of Mercy (Dave Vanian formed his pseudonym from the word "Transylvanian", someone should've seen this coming). The Damned started putting out pop goth records to the chagrin of their old fans. Throwing expectations to the dirt, The Damned made whatever music they felt like. Theres always been a certain humor present in their act. They really never have taken themselves seriously. Despite the debates, it's precisely that attitude that makes them punk until the end.
    Starter Songs: "Machine Gun Etiquette", "Grimly Fiendish", "Sanctum Sanctorum", "Is It A Dream", "Drinking About My Baby", "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", "Ignite

  16. Sex Gang Children

    Another essential deathrock band is Sex Gang Children. Andi Sexgang's vocal sound is almost incomparable (other than his seeming revivalist twin, Lucas Lanthier) to anyone in music history. A beautiful caterwauling voice blending with violins, heavy bass, and wailing guitars is what this band consists of. Plus plenty of spooky lyrics to go around that ((almost)) make sense. Personally I think listening to the "Song and Legend" album while following the lyrics should count as a language credit.
    Starter Songs: "Sebastiane", "Cannibal Queen", "Arms of Cicero", "Draconian Dream"

  17. Virgin Prunes

    Often referred to as U2's terrifying sibling, this Dublin band is truly deserving of the title. If not giving a damn could become incarnate, it would be the Virgin Prunes. If not one, but two vocalists wailing in heavy Irish accents while the typical deathrock/punk accompaniments drone out sound seems like its a good time to you then you need to check these guys out. The "If I die..I die..." album is essential to classic deathrock. Bizarre and lovely.
    Starter Songs: "Pagan Lovesong", "Baby Turns Blue", "Walls of Jericho", "Caucasian Walk"

  18. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

    Talk About The Weather is an exceptional album not quite appreciated enough. Though their career's success was short lived, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry deserves some recognition for their classic 80s goth club banger sound.
    Starter Songs: "Talk About the Weather", "Hand On Heart", "Hollow Eyes"

  19. Siouxsie & The Banshees

    Originally a punk outfit, Siouxsie & The Banshees was one of the first to embrace the post-punk sound along with The Cure and Bauhaus. Kind of like a fine whiskey, they became more refined and full sounding the later they got through their career, smoothing out all the rough sounds. The earlier, raw, sounding albums are still absolute masterpieces, just depends on personal taste. Great for those who prefer female leads.
    Starter Songs: "Helter Skelter", "Spellbound", "Halloween", "Premature Burial", "Dazzle", "Cascade", "Kiss Them For Me

  20. The March Violets

    The Sisters of Mercy's much lesser known fellow band from Leeds. The March Violets have some staple goth club songs such as "Lights Go Out". The "Botanic Verses" album is an under appreciated 80's goth rock album with the typical sound. Though not horribly original or unique, definitely can't rule out The March Violets as a quality or important band.
    Starter Songs: "Electric Shades Part II: The Lights Go Out", "Walk Into the Sun", "Children on Stun", "Radiant Boys"

  21. Bat Nouveau

    Mainly operating off of bandcamp, Bat Nouveau is a prime example of how good goth rock revivalists can sound. Ripping their style straight from the 80's batcave they are a blast from the past caught in the current decade. "Metamorphoses" is a beautiful album that I would highly recommend everyone into goth rock should snag on vinyl. Originally the punk outfit 13 Bats from my understanding.
    Starter Songs: "Portent", "Death Mask", "Lillies II"

  22. Peter Murphy

    Peter Murphy is practically worshipped by all post-punk fans. Revered in the goth scene with the official name of "Godfather of Goth" (often shortened to the "Gothfather"), Peter Murphy's work by no means stops with Bauhaus or lesser known Dalis Car. His solo work, though drastically different than the former work, remains rich and vibrant sounding. Including influences from across the world and especially Turkey in the later albums, Peter Murphy's discography remains impressive and influential. His voice is as strong as ever and the brilliant mind has not yet faded.

  23. Love And Rockets

    At the breakup of Bauhaus, the three remaining members led by Daniel Ash went on to form their own group out of the ashes, called Love and Rockets. Sounding nothing like their old outfit, they moved on to a more sophisticated feel-good rock sound. Embracing the commercial, they made poppier yet still enjoyable albums such as Express and their eponymous title.

  24. The Glove

    The collaboration between Robert Smith of The Cure and Steve Severin of Siouxsie snd the Banshees. Due to contractual obligations, Smith was not allowed to be tbe main vocalist. He did contribute main vocals to two tracks though. All of the music being arranged by both Smith and Severin, its a beautiful psychedelic masterpiece. Odd and mesmerizing, just as anyone should expect from those two.