a discourse on new wave and punk (because I can't let anything go)
New wave grew out of post-punk, rather than punk. Bands like Talking Heads and Blondie came out of the punk scene, but added a layer to their music that was not heard in the raw sound of punk rock.
I think one of the major factors that separated punk, post-punk and new wave is danceability. Sure, you could slamdance to punk, and you could kind of bop your head or do that strange little hopping type dance to post-punk, but you could actually dance to new wave. And by dance, I mean wave your arms about in a spastic sort of fashion while hopping from one leg to the other and moving your head from side to side.
New wave was the hip answer to disco which, at the time, was experiencing a slow, well-deserved death. All the cool kids were still dancing, they were just doing it at dingy clubs (in my case, a Long Island club called Spit) that played music as yet unheard of on the radio.
However, there are many bands that treaded the fine line between punk, post-punk and new wave, giving credence to the theory of James Lileks that punk and new wave were of the same entity; two genres folded together.
However (again), if one wants to be really anal about genres and sub-genres, there are all sorts of labels you could come up with for the punk/post-punk/new wave scene. Some artists can fall into all categories, while some only fit in one.
For instance, you could take a timeline and plot the following bands: Television, New York Dolls, Elvis Costello, XTC, Human League, Duran Duran, OMD, Heaven 17, Depeche Mode, Rockpile, Joy Division, Split Enz, Culture Club, The Jam, Madness and Squeeze. There is no way you could define them all using the three specific labels previously mentioned. The only thing they have in common is that they all sprung from the same movement.
If this were a visual chart, there would be branches leading off in every direction, with little notations stating things like dark new wave, gothic punk, pop punk, mainstream new wave, synth pop, ska-punk, etc. And then you could go from there and make a case for new wave leading to techno leading to industrial (The line would go on until we came upon rap-metal, or rapcore as some people call it, and there really is no explanation for that monstrosity of a genre, so we'll just chalk it up to a genetic mistake, like bad DNA in the bloodline of the industry).
The bottom line here is that music and all its genres are not only incestous, they are pretty arbitrary as well. One person's punk is another person's pop (see, Mest, Thursday), while one person's new wave is another person's radio-driven pop (see, Culture Club).
Actually, the bottom line is that after careful consideration, I probably agree with James more than I don't. Punk and new wave are not much different from each other and, at some point, just met up and blended into one entity.