The Best of Black Punk Rock, in My Humble Opinion

Hello! There is so much going on in the world of black punk rock these days! I wanted to share with you a handful of bands that I've felt compelled to listen to over and over again, that feature at least one black punk.

I mainly focus on what I call DIY bands and artists. I want to explain what that means to me, since punk is frequently reduced to a commodified visual or sonic aesthetic, and not an approach or a process. The bands in my list mainly function in the underground. Most do not use record labels to release their music, or if they do, the labels are quite small and are independently owned. I'd venture to say that none of the bands on this list have managers and that they all book their own shows. They use very limited means to produce excellent music. Bands like these often play shows in makeshift DIY venues (such as people's homes). These bands make music to express themselves, without dreams of fame and wealth clouding their artistic visions.


Punk is meaningless without DIY ethics. DIY ethics make punk empowering, because instead of saying "I can't be in a band because I don't have ____," you are encouraged to use whatever resources you do have at your disposal to make music and art now. Within the realm of DIY, you do not have to be a professional or technical virtuoso to make important and interesting art that moves people.

To many of my readers, this is all stating the obvious, and I'm sorry! But, hey, I'm looking out for The Children. They are getting fed images of people with salon-styled mohawks, thrashing around on a big stage with their expensive equipment at expensive concerts with security guards and tons of corporate money circulating. That is just one version of punk. In other versions, you, the audience, are just as important a part of the experience as the band and there is less separation between the two. In this version, you look at the band and think, "I could do that, too."

The other thing that I'd like to note is that the list of bands below is not meant to be comprehensive in any way. These are just recent bands that I like. There are tons more DIY/punk bands featuring black musicians and other musicians of color out there. This list on Suxy Exposito's blog, BRUJAxCORE, will help you find some them, but even that list is not complete. Also, some of these bands, although relatively new, have already broken up. C'est la vie.

And lastly, if you've always wanted to be in a band, now is your time. Borrow an instrument to get started if you can't afford one. Get on it! And let these bands be your inspiration!

Washington, DC
Solo electro-punk. Minimal, melodic, post-punk vibes. I've been listening to this every single day for weeks. It makes me jealous because I play bass and I've tried to play solo music and I don't know how Sneaks manages to make music that is so simple and spare and yet it sounds so complete. There's a private, bedroom-recording feel to the cassette that reminds me of 90s DIY 4-track culture.

 Multi-cultural post-punkers from London, Trash Kit, have released a second LP and it's actually better than the first one, which goes to show you that the first album isn't always the best! If I had to pick a favorite band from this list, it would probably be them. And part of the reason is, besides creating a unique sound, they've actually had time to develop. As much as I love DIY bands, they come and go so quickly, before their sound ever gets to evolve into something more mature and cohesive. I guess punk isn't really meant to be mature and cohesive, though. I don't know, I guess I need both. I need spastic urgency and I also want bands to last long enough to deliver a well-crafted sound. Trash Kit definitely embodies all this and more. Check out singer/guitarist/violinist Rachel Agg's other bands: Shopping and Sacred Paws

Female-fronted Bay Area hardcore. Sorry, they already broke up, but their demo slays! Lynette, singer, says she's got a new band in the works, so keep your eyes peeled. Check out her other band, Venkman.

New Brunswick
This is Nneka A.'s new band. She was in 3Jane and I also interviewed her for issue #6 1/2 NAIJA PUNX. She plays drums and sings on "Carried Away." Glazer have a nostalgic sound. They remind me of Hazel, Sonic Youth, the Wipers... Lynette (FWP singer) says they remind her of Eric's Trip. I don't know. Solid tunes that remind you of the glory days of late-80s and 90s indie rock. Perfect for upcoming summer days/daze.

Washington, DC
Raging hardcore from the Nation's Capital. Why hasn't there been more black hc from DC, the home of Bad Brains, Scream, Dag Nasty, Red C, Void and many more? While Bad Brains is truly a lazy comparison (don't do it, guys!), Pure Disgust actually does sound very influenced by 1980s DCHC. The vocals on the newer recordings remind me of Swiz-era Shawn Brown. The lead singer, Rob Watson, is also very outspoken about race and politics in his lyrics and in real life, as you can see in this interview with the band.

Short-lived anarcho art punk band with a saxophone. I usually use the term "art punk" to refer to a sub-genre of post-punk, but their sound is more derived from hardcore and thrash. Female vocals, political lyrics. Their first demo was alright, seeing them live was excellent, and their newest song "Altered Joy" is my favorite track. It was released just before they announced their breakup.

New York
I found this record at Domino Sound Record Shack here in New Orleans. It's experimental, outsider music by White and some guest musicians. I wanted to do an interview with this guy, but couldn't track him down. White calls his off-kilter style of music "Whopazootic" and the lyrical subject matter ranges from anthemic ("Under the Radar") to creepy ("Bicycle Lady"). The album, "This Is Not What You Expect," is actually a compilation of tracks from over the last 25 years. Check out his YouTube channel and you will not be disappointed. I love freaky black people. He's a genuine BLACK WEIRDO, for sure. I will interview him, dammit.

I just interviewed Tieraney Carter for issue #8! I'd heard of her project, Wizard Apprentice, before, but became really interested in her work after the release of her DIY documentary "Enter the Pink Void" which is a must see! It covers current LGTBQ punk and DIY musicians all over the country including beloved political hot heads Downtown Boys, The Younger Lovers, Best Friend/Grrlfriend, Try the Pie and more. The honesty and transparency of Tieraney’s lyrics are raw, but her vocal delivery is cool and, at times, seemingly distant. The mostly electronic sounds on her EP range from soothing to strange. “Rash of Feathers” is my favorite so far. The lyrics describe a disturbing dream, and the odd ebb and flow of the song’s uneven rhythm adds to its surreality.

New Orleans
Grindcore from New Orleans fronted by Hollise Murphy. This is the only band on the list that I don't actively listen to because I don't listen to any grindcore at all. But Hollise is the only other black punk musician in New Orleans that I know of. And once he gave me a big old nug of weed when I was sitting outside Siberia one night. He didn't have to do that, you know? Nice dude.

New Orleans
This is the last band I was in before I quit playing music. We were a noisy post-punk band, tritely influenced by early Sonic Youth, feelings of anxiety and New Orleans magic/nihilism. I played bass and sang. A couple of my other bands: Firebrand, New Bloods, Heat Rash

Long-time Shotgun Seamstress contributor, general bad ass Brontez Purnell's solo project turned band. The best way to get into this band is by watching the incredibly cute videos. I think Brontez should win the award for Most Twee Black Punk on the Planet. I haven't even been able to get my hands on a YL LP since the debut, but the videos are all stellar!

I'm not even much of a pop-punker and this band blows me a way--recorded and live. They're just so good at what they do! A couple years ago, a slew of bands came out that sounded like they grew up worshiping Superchunk. Most of them faded into the background for me, except for Aye Nako. I interviewed lead singer/guitarist Mars for SS #5.

Please support all of these bands by buying their tapes and records, hooking them up with shows in your town and spreading the word! Also, we need more people of color (POC) interviewing and reviewing POC DIY bands. Think about starting your own zine or blog covering music you love!


  1. This is a great list, much of it is new to me. I'm a big Younger Lovers fan, so I'll be checking out everything here I don't know. I was wondering if I would see Rough Francis on this list, have you checked them out?

    1. Yes, I have! Thanks for linking them, and people should feel free to comment with links of whatever bands they think are missing from this list. Again, this is just a short list of recent/current black punk bands I found myself really loving and listening to repeatedly, and that is all. Thanks for reading.


  3. Awesome blog post!! All these bands are so popular and I have attended the concerts of most of these bands. “THE YOUNGER LOVERS” is my favorite band. I just attended their show at one of the domestic event spaces. It was a rocking evening!

  4. hi - what a great list of rocking bands! i've been checking them out and loving them all! i'm a radio dj and plan to feature almost all of them on my show - including negation! i noticed that first world problems released an amazing new album in may 2015 called game over.

    thanks again!

    1. What radio station do you DJ for? I want to listen to your show!


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