Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The J. Geils Band

I dislike bands named after actual band members even more than bland band names like The Beat. These bands should use a smidgen more imagination, even if one band member is the main draw. Look at Joan Jett, people. Instead of The Joan Jett Band, she chose Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, which is much better. Ian Drury performed with the Blockheads. Couldn't J. Geils have been performing with the Naked J-birds, for example?

On a side note, I don't have the heart to rate The Pete Best Band. You may or may not know that Pete Best is known as "the fifth Beatle." Did you know that he still performs? Yeah--at Jammin' Java, a venue near me that holds maybe 200 people. Man, he must be kicking himself.

The J. Geils Band: 2.0 (I would have ranked it lower, but I want to leave some room for band names with hideous puns or tasteless/disgusting connotations.)

El Vez

El Vez is a Mexican Elvis impersonator. Check out his web site, which is all decked out for the holidays, just as Elvis would have wanted it.

This is a deftly executed pun. It's funny, snappy, and you won't forget what kind of music El Vez makes.

El Vez: 9.3

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs/ Hot Hot Heat

Let's talk about repetition in band names. Sometimes it is just tedious, as with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Try having a conversation or writing an email where you use their name more than once; if you're like me, you'll be tempted to call them "The Yeahs" or "The YYYs." It is an amusing name on paper, though.

Hot Hot Heat rolls off the tongue more easily. But what's really great about the name Hot Hot Heat can only be appreciated at one of their concerts. In the time between the end of the set and the encore, the audience started chanting "Hot Hot Heat!" It makes a really excellent chant, especially when synchronized with foot stomping. I haven't been to a YYY concert, so I don't know if the same thing happens there. If it does, it could redeem the YYY's name to an extent.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: 4.6
Hot Hot Heat: 7.0

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Soccer Team

This band opened for a show I was at on Friday; however, we arrived too late to see them. There is a lot to be said for an easily google-able name, and Soccer Team is not one of them. They join the ranks of talented but unfortunately named bands like The Sounds, James, and Pulp. Looking for Pulp-related items on Ebay is a real chore.

Searching for "Soccer team band" brings up their home page, but many links to Soccer Team are probably buried deep within Google. Also, Soccer Team is a pretty generic, boring name to me. Badminton Team would have been better. It reminds me of my sister's story about the excruciatingly hip badminton team at her college. They had shirts printed up which said "Bad" on the front and "Minton" on the back. A band named Badminton Team could have similar shirts produced.

Soccer Team: 2.3

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gogol Bordello

I was researching this band name, and guess what: The singer's name has an umlaut! It all goes back to the umlaut, kids. This band plays hard-to-categorize music that I would describe as "klezmer punk." Someone else called them "a bit like The Clash having a fight with The Pogues in Eastern Europe."

The name has some great sounds that English-speakers don't get to make that often. Saying "Gogol" strengthens your gargling muscles. The momentum of the guttural "o" sound continues with "Bordello."

A few different things are going on with the name's connotations. "Gogol" comes (the band claims) from Nikolai Gogol, a Russian writer who lived during the 1800s. Picturing a bordello during that time makes me think of a lot of velvet and Lapsang Souchong (smokey) tea. A gogol is also a number: ten to the power of ten, to the power of 100. Google takes its name from gogol.

This is a band name that's rich in sound and meaning. And it would look so nice with a few umlauts.

Gogol Bordello: 9.1

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Umlaut, part 2

Which band (or musician) names would be improved by adding an umlaut?

Gnärls Bärkley
Sönic Yöuth
Düran Düran
Prïmal Screäm

Care to add your own?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Umlaut

The Umlaut is not a band name, but if it was, I would give it a very high rating. The umlaut (those two little dots) is a typographic symbol that conveys a doubled sound for a vowel. For example, "cooperate" should properly have an umlaut. Without the umlaut, it would more correctly be pronounced with 3 syllables (coop-e-rate) instead of the accepted four-syllable pronunciation (co-op-e-rate).

The umlaut is the recessive genetic disease of the heavy metal bloodline. It probably first appeared in the name Blue Öyster Cult. It then propagated to Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Queensrÿche, and jumped genres to infect punk band Hüsker Dü. Hüsker Dü is the only name above where an umlaut might possibly be used correctly from a pronunciation standpoint. But pronunciation isn't the point--the point seems to be to look Viking or something. I love how Spin(..)al Tap parodied this by placing an umlaut over a consonant.

Any band with an umlaut in its name is going to get marked down heavily by me, unless it's an obvious parody. Mötley Crüe, what's wrong with just calling yourselves Motley Crew?

Blue Öyster Cult: 3
Mötley Crüe: 2.2
Motörhead: 2.7
Queensrÿche: 1.5 (major pretentiousness going on here)
Hüsker Dü: 6.5
Spin(..)al Tap: 8.7 (good execution of multiple levels of parody)