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The 20 Best DIY Singles of the Post-Punk Years You’ve Probably Never Heard

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Flamed-out, co-opted, and buried beneath the weight of its own conformist dogma, punk rock itself may not, in the end, had quite the lasting musical impact as is widely – if lazily – claimed, but the energy it unleashed in the form of post-punk and its many subsequent strands has continued to wield tremendous influence and inspiration over the last thirty-seven-odd years, as numerous pieces here at Stereo Embers have attempted to show. That that is punk’s most important and enduring legacy is nearly inarguable. All over the land, no matter what land you were in (so long as it had experienced, to some degree, punk’s first shockwaves), the most salutary result was the extent to which young aspiring artists (whether they considered themselves musicians or not, by the way, which was crucial) were compelled to pick up guitars, sit down behind spare drum kits, pick up a cheap bass from a friend of their brother’s who’d gone off to university to study accounting, start scribbling out lyrics then screaming them into microphones they stole from Woolworths. Seemingly within hours of the release of “Anarchy in the UK” on 26 November 1976 every garage and upstairs bedroom in every village and housing estate in the UK was withstanding possible structural damage from the noise rumbling within. Thing was, though, as the obsession for studded leather and safety-pinned affectation wore away, this tsunami of creative drive remained, and in fact gained exponential momentum. Tiny labels began sprouting up everywhere, cassette culture blossomed and thrived and John Peel’s inbox became a daily avalanche only a small percentage of which – despite his best intentions, one imagines – had any chance of being heard let alone broadcast. In the midst of this, left to their own devices, bands and artists resorted to doing it themselves, and the DIY culture was born.

Shambolic, charming, and brimming with an utter authenticity, the scene was more vast than any one individual or company could hope to encompass, but the folks at Hyped To Death, creators of the dizzying Messthetics series (from whence most of these selections) as well the insanely comprehensive US version of that series called Homework (which this author is seriously considering selling a kidney for) and much more besides, have done an heroic job of trying. Here then, listed in no particular order (of course) are twenty DIY singles that defy, with a carefree proletarian ease, their own relative anonymity.


DISCO ZOMBIES – “Here Come The Buts”


RADIO GHOSTS – ‘Handfuls of Everything”






THE AVOCADOS – “I Never Knew”




THE FAKES – “Sylvia Clark”


ARTICLE 58 – “Event To Come”


DECADENT FEW – “Burning Caroline”


IQ ZERO – “Insects”


OBJEKS – “Negative Conversation”


INSEX – “Inner Section”






METROPAK – “You’re a Rebel”



SIX MINUTE WAR – “Strontium 90”


THE EXILE – “Jubilee 77”



SCROTUM POLES – “Helicopter Honeymoon”


STRUTZ – “Break Point”


TEA SET – “Sing Song”