Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Band Names? Welcome to the Jungle

by Wayne Robins

Talking about rock bands these days sometimes resembles a walk through a mammoth petting zoo. Talk about your Animal Collective: You need an Alessi's Ark bigger than Noah & the Whale to contain all the Super Furry Animals. It has never been easy for the casual listener try to discern the difference between Deerhoof, Deerhunter and Deer Tick. Or their related Wild Beasts such as Caribou, the Reindeer Section, and the Antlers. (Tell them all apart and you win a February vacation in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.)

This is not a new development. Long before Dinosaur Jr., Dinosaur Feathers, and the fondest T-Rex, doo-wop vocal groups in the 1950s played gotcha with bird names, inspired by the success of such progenitors as the Ravens and the Swallows. Soon the skies, or at least the airwaves, were filled with the sounds of the Cardinals, the Larks, the Crows, Sonny Til and the Orioles, the Robins, the Wrens, the Penguins, the Sparrows, the Flamingos, Don Julian and the Meadowlarks, the Bluejays and the Falcons.
We've long had the Eagles, Counting Crows, Stone the Crows, the Black Crowes and Jayhawks. Birds still fly, be they Doves or Eagles of Death Metal. Fred Eaglesmith? It's not nice to make fun of people's names, so we'll also omit Sheryl Crow. Swans count. But not Bettye Swann. The Byrds, of course. And the Birds. But not Andrew Bird, Charlie Byrd, or Tony Bird. And not Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, either.

Led us take advantage of the Bird and the Bee to make a honey of a transition to A Band of Bees, Sea of Bees and She Keeps Bees. (Let us let W*A*SP sleep lest we really get stung.) And in the spirit of Insect Trust, let's say yes to Adam and the Ants, not to mention Black Moth Super Rainbow and Papa Roach.

The late Wolfman Jack would have appreciated the lycanthropic company provided by Wolf Parade, Wolf Eyes, Wolf Gang and Wolfmother, not to mention long-lived Los Lobos or the comeback of Peter Wolf.

Stars of the moment Fleet Foxes have separated themselves from the skulk that includes Foxes in Fiction, Foxgloves and Foxymorons. It is still uncertain, however, what band will take the place of Echo & the Bunnymen ruling the rock warren: Right now White Rabbits, Black Rabbits, Pepper Rabbit, and Unbunny all have a bite of the carrot. The stables are also full with the likes of Bands of Horses, Super Wild Horses, the grammatically dubious An Horse, not to mention their offspring Ponytail, and the Ponys.
If the terrain is steep enough, you'll see High Llamas. Out on the plains is the sound of a herd of Young Buffalo, and persistent Donna the Buffalo. Roaring in out of the past, one hears the approaching hooves of Buffalo Springfield. Avi Buffalo, too? Ground control to Buffalo Tom!

Welcome to the jungle, people, but watch out for Gorillaz and Arctic Monkeys, not to mention Le Tigre, Lion Fever, or the lamented laments of Pedro the Lion. Remember to look down, try to avoid the difference between Deadly Snakes or Hot Snakes. Try not to get swallowed by Ice Age Cobra, but await rescue from Cobra Starship.
Who's barking? Is that you, Swamp Dogg? Or is it those new possibly dyslexic kids, Dog is Dead?

We know Chan Marshall has Cat Power. But you'll need extra kitty litter if Thundercat shows up. Or better yet, have them chase after Modest Mouse, Danger Mouse and Maus Haus. Heaven knows what to make of Lord Dog Bird. Or Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds. Perhaps someone on the A&R staff of Fat Possum, Asthmatic Kitty, True Panther or Jagjaguwar can fill us in.

Did you know iwrestledabearonce? The referee said the bear won, but the observers were clearly partisan, fans as they were of Grizzly Bear, Royal Bear, Bear in Heaven, Panda Bear and Gold Panda, not to mention Kid Koala. And its been a while, so let's take a moment to remember riot grrrls, Huggy Bear.
This trend does not appear to have peaked. Consider some of the other bands advertised in the Latitude 2011 lineup in Suffolk, England: Eels, Foals, the Feral Pigeons, Idiot of Ants . . . We've gone from Def Leppard to the Leopards. Is this progress? It's time for a paws.

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