What's in an Indie Band Name?

10/31/11

What's in a name? Would an Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros by any other name sound as sweet? (notwithstanding the fact that no one in the band is actually named Edward Sharpe). Unfortunately, sometimes the most buzzworthy feature of a new indie buzz band is its name.

We'll venture to say that some bands whose musical merits pale in comparison to their names include Cymbals Eat Guitars ("10" for band name, "3" for music), Fitz and the Tantrums ("8" for name, stank-ass for music) and Whalebones (wait... who?).

To give credit where credit's due, we'll admit that certain bands do, indeed, live up to their cool-ass names, some of which include: Starfucker, Seabear, and The Antlers (you can grab a freebie mp3 of the song "Two" by The Antlers below, by the way).

BitCandy has also spotted a couple dominant trends for indie band name-age. For example, since about 2004, naming your band "The Somethings" will not generate as much buzz as naming it "Someone and The Somethings" will. When choosing your indie band name, also keep in mind that when it comes to convincing people your music is good, animals are important and so are bodies of water. If your band name contains a "bear," a "wolf,"  a "sea," or, especially, the name of a sea animal, congratulations: you're playing SXSW. Cute plays on celebrity/public figure names (think Natalie Portman's Shaved Head or Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltson) also increasingly make up indie band noms du jour.

Hey, wanna test your indie band name knowledge and your susceptibility to believing made-up bullshit at the same time? Take this indie band name quiz we've put together. In each instance, see if you can tell the real indie band name from the fake one. For example, if we asked "Elbow or Ankle?" the correct answer would be "Elbow." (No Googling!)

Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside or Agent Stevens and The Irascible Babies?

Seapony or Water Buffalo?

The Rosebuds or The Thornbloods?

DonkeyBear Sam or Elephant Micah?

Seawolf or Wolfbear?

Wruce Brillis or John Cougar Concentration Camp?

I Love You Peter Venkman or I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness?

Answer Key: The following band names are real: Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside, Seapony, The Rosebuds, Elephant Micah, Seawolf, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, and, if you can believe it, John Cougar Concentration Camp. The other ones are fake.*

*Note: Answer Key invalid in the very likely event that a band with one of the fake but awesomely ridiculous names has formed and received rave reviews from Pitchfork in the 12 hours after this article was written and before it was posted.