Punk and Circumstance – by R. A. Kennedy

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Music is very important to many of us.

It can be the difference between a great day and a terrible week. No matter where we are in our lives music speaks to us, it doesn’t judge, it is there for you and it will listen to you if you listen to it. Music helps explain our own feelings when we ourselves cannot put our emotions into words, it shapes us and creates us, and a world without music in any form would be extremely dark.

I think we can all agree that we live in such fractious times, both socially and politically. Whilst there is so much fantastic music out there, there is a large proportion of it that, in my mind, corrupts and twists the art form and that, my dear friends, is the non-music conveyor belt of shows like the X Factor. These television shows shatter dreams and exploit those that quite clearly have the talent and the focus to make great art.

The list of problems with these types of talent shows can be summed up by this line from Rush’s The Spirit of Radio (From the album Permanent Waves) –

“One likes to believe in the freedom of music but the glittering prizes and endless compromises shatters the illusion of integrity.”

Outside the safe confines of Pop, R&B mainstream and the hype that surrounds many of today’s “hottest” acts, the sound of angry guitars can be heard. A rallying cry of sorts. A quiet resistance. A dawn of a new era that is somewhat reminiscent of the late seventies, the rise of Punk and the wave of Indie music that not only spawned some stunning post-punk bands but also established itself as a musical genre.

I’m not talking about just anyone with a guitar and a dream, the vast swathes of Metal bands that are continually breaking new ground, or how Metal is continuing to grow as a genre and a culture. I’m talking about a very thriving alternative rock scene that over the last few years has seen young, guitar driven rock bands that have something to say in the face of today’s social and political enmity.  And whilst alternative rock in all the sub-genres has never gone away, it seems the timing is right for new bands with something to say and who also mean what they say; to be thought-provoking and challenge the perceptions of the world around us.

The present has ties to the past and sometimes those links can be very small but ever so significant.

Listening to bands such as The Clash, Joy Division, Sonic Youth, The Replacements and many others made me think about how much of this music is still relevant. It still means something, against the backdrop of today’s society. Punk and other genres right up to Grunge still mean something.

And the rise of bands such as Slaves (who are nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize) and Savages, with a new album out next year and a recent performance at Banksy’s Dismaland, are showing that the musical resistance is growing strong and shouting back at the status-quo.

By using the world around them, these bands are channeling that into some truly stunning music that nods to past influences but is entirely original and very exciting.

Rock has sent a message to the hearts, minds, and souls- will you answer the rousing call?



Romeo Kennedy is a Cornish SFF writer and book reviewer. R. A Kennedy’s stories mostly take place in his beloved Kernow. Once described as a “F**cked up Beatrix Potter” as many of his fantasy short stories feature nefarious animal characters.

R. A. blogs at and is a writer for

A Folklore enthusiast, specializing in Cornish Folklore and Mythology, as well as major interests in all things geek from books, comics, film, and television. A lover of most kinds of music and a bassist himself.

He tweets at @RomeoRites


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