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15 Bands That Kickass Despite Awful Band Names

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Coming up with a good band name is no easy task. Sure, there’s a seemingly infinite amount of words to choose from, but there are so many past and present bands that it’s hard to come up with something original. For better or worse, current bands are forced to be more creative and many bands have faltered in that challenge. Bands with bad names can be divided into a number of categories—strange names, cheesy names, names that are difficult to Google, gross names, names that sound nothing like their music, offensive names, names that have confusing symbols, names with words that are intentionally spelled wrong and more.

There are plenty of great bands that don’t get the time of day because people can’t get over their awful band name. So, Paste came up with 15 current bands whose names may be terrible, but whose music is simply too excellent for them to be overlooked.

1. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
The name, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard easily reflects the band’s experimental, sludgey prog-psych sound and no one would be surprised that a band with such a weird, whimsical and lengthy name would also be churning out up to five albums a year. If you happen to get into the fantastic, mythical world that is King Gizzard, you’ll probably love their name, but it’s certainly a barrier for some people to give them a chance. Their five album onslaught, which they released last year, sounded like a lofty goal, but their ability to not just follow through, but to ensure there wasn’t a dip in quality and to keep up with their touring schedule is beyond impressive. Their swampy psych and howling doom metal is an immersive experience and their ability to integrate unorthodox time signatures and tunings separate them from many bands in the psych-rock pack. If the aforementioned king and wizard from their name are as zany and majestic as the band’s music, we would bow down and gaze in wonder at their presence. —Lizzie Manno


2. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Aussie “tough pop” newcomers Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have some good pieces to their name, but it’s hard to imagine those pieces fitting together. Before they were a serious band, they went by the name Rolling Blackouts—a pretty decent band name, but a name that was shared by a few other bands. Instead of changing their name when they got signed, they decided to add on to it instead, which is why it sounds like they awkwardly squished together two band names into one. Their name may be a mouthful, but their debut album, Hope Downs, is similarly overflowing with its jangly rock intrigue and pop songwriting prowess. Their album was released earlier this year on Sub Pop and cuts like “An Air Conditioned Man,” “Talking Straight” and “The Hammer” give all of us who still root for guitar music a little glimmer of hope and a sappy grin that guitar music can more than hold its own in 2018. —Lizzie Manno

3. Viagra Boys
When it comes to Viagra Boys—or V**gra Boys, as it’s formatted in the band’s press releases—our primary concern is a practical one: When you’re being forced to censor your stage name so as not to set off email spam filters, you may have reached a crossroads at which to reconsider your decisions. These Swedish garage punks did no such thing, opting instead to flex the sense of humor demonstrated in the recently released video for their single “Sports”—think The Lonely Island’s “We Like Sportz,” only with more tattoos and testosterone. Both Viagra Boys’ recent video and their band name take the piss out of performative masculinity—it’s just difficult to take such artistic statements seriously when they’re coming from a band named after a boner pill. —Scott Russell

4. Philip Grass
The world of electronic music is littered with punny names like this: Com Truise, Chet Faker, ill.gates, etc. But for some reason, this is one of the most egregious examples to my ears. Maybe it’s simply because I love their music so much. The downtempo Portland duo makes the kind of warm, lush productions that I want to wrap myself up or rub into my skin to make it more supple and smooth. And they’ve only improved greatly beyond the gushing ambience of their Find EP with their latest release Summer Thing, a short but fantastic collection of deep house released on their new label Periphery Records. Seriously, my dudes, the name was surely funny when you were stoned but now that you’ve sobered up… —Robert Ham

5. Soccer Mommy
Instead of choosing to record under her own name, Nashville singer-songwriter Sophie Allison chose a different name instead, which is a commendable risk. The problem is, for some reason, the word “mommy” in a band name or as a word that isn’t being uttered by someone under the age of eight, just makes me want to dig a hole and bury myself. After finally getting around to listen to her music, which I assumed to be jokey hipster pop, it was immediately clear why everyone was so excited about her music. Her debut LP, Clean, released this year, evokes a sense of authenticity that’s easy to relate to with her frank stories of relationship tropes and struggles with self-worth. She’s cool, genuine and relatable without an overwrought “woe is me” mentality and her breezy, warped guitar riffs display her skills without overshadowing her pure, heartfelt vocals. —Lizzie Manno

6. Majical Cloudz

Though the band, comprised of vocalist Devon Welsh and producer/composer Matthew Otto, plies the barest of sounds to unearth a wealth of drama—whole worlds of romance from one note stabbed on a piano unto oblivion (“Bugs Don’t Buzz”) or a coming-of-age murder mystery from a plaintive synth run (“Childhood’s End”), Welsh’s voice loud and painfully sincere over it all—their name seems needlessly complicated. Why not “Majikal Cloudz”? “Magical Clowds”? The permutations are endless, beholden to no internal logic, no real reason for being that way. It’s understandable that the properly spelled phrase feels too whimsical, a bit too medieval Lisa Frank for the tastes of two serious minimalists, but one does not just drop a “j” in there like that. There’s nothing sincere about that “j,” nothing funny about that “z.” Their name is a betrayal of their music, in which everything bears the weight of deep consideration and cumulative logic, everything in its right place layered gracefully over everything else in its right place. “Magical Clouds” at least would have been honest about the big, soggy feelings they’ve got in store. Instead, we must remember the now-parted duo under the banner of a failing skateboard company or, I dunno, a new strain of weed your local grower swears is their dankest yet. —Dom Sinacola

7. Car Seat Headrest
Virginia indie rocker Will Toledo also took a leap of faith in picking a different moniker than his own, but Car Seat Headrest sounds like Toledo was sitting in a car on the way to his first show, forced to come up with a name as quickly as possible. In reality, he picked the name because he recorded vocals in the backseat of his car in the early days of his band. He could have picked any other random item like “stapler” or “wind chime,” and somehow ended up with an exponentially better name, but we can forgive Toledo based on his musical output. Toledo’s latest effort was a complete reworking of his Bandcamp album, Twin Fantasy, and his ability to echo the common sentiments of anxiety and inner turmoil that so many feel, particularly among young people, is truly unparalleled. Toledo sings, “I’m incapable of being a human” on the 13-minute monster, “Beach Life-In-Death” and you can’t help but identify with his psyche every step of the way, and he frequently drops more catchy hooks in the span of one song than many bands could hope to muster on an entire album. —Lizzie Manno

8. gobbinjr
Emma Witmer’s idiosyncratic music is frequently described as being playful, so it’s no surprise that her stage name follows suit. Witmer explained in a 2015 interview that she made “a really impulsive move” by naming her band after her bong, which she had dubbed “Gobbin” while high. “I don’t know what it means, I just thought it sounded cool,” Witmer told What The Sound. “And I thought no one would judge me with a name like gobbinjr.” While she meant for her tossed-off “highdea” of a band name to minimize expectations, her songs have done the opposite: Two albums and an EP in, gobbinjr is already one of the most distinctive and acclaimed voices in indie pop. Loren DiBlasi praised Witmer’s “complex and captivating charm” in her review of gobbinjr’s 2018 LP ocala wick, hailing the album as “absurdly catchy and deeply personal.” Sounds cool to us. —Scott Russell

9. Psychedelic Porn Crumpets
First rule of band names: make sure your name doesn’t contain the genre of music you play. The band’s colossal, eccentric pop/rock sound is undeniably psychedelic and it’s kind of cheesy to have the genre explicitly in the title. After giving them a pass for a corny, playfully ridiculous name, you can let yourself wander in their magical, sweeping soundscapes. Singles like “Social Candy” and “Marmalade March” invoke equal amounts of high-spirited fun and virtuoso musicianship. Listening to their music requires listeners to abandon their inhibitions and embark on whatever gleaming psych-pop joyride they offer. Their sound is accessible and melodious enough to appeal to pop/rock fans while their musical proficiency and wacky euphoria will also gel with diehard psych fans. —Lizzie Manno

10. Mike Adams At His Honest Weight
Mike Adams, the man behind this indie pop project from Bloomington, Indiana is known around his hometown as a man with a great sense of humor that he uses to great effect in his podcast and onstage talk show. That has to be some explanation towards why he saddled his spotless musical output with this mouthful of a moniker. The records Adams and company have released to date have been spectacular, landing in a sweet spot between roots rock and dream pop. It’s a name you won’t soon forget, but it sure isn’t doing this band justice. —Robert Ham

11. ALASKALASKA
London art-pop band ALASKALASKA write their name in all caps and I have to say, as someone who’s spent several hours of my life trying to figure out how band names are stylized, the all caps thing just ruffles my feathers. Though it is pretty fun to say and probably looks wicked on merch, so props for that. ALASKALASKA fuse synth-pop, jazz, dream-pop, R&B and art-pop into something deliciously enjoyable, ebullient and dynamic. The band’s latest single “Monster,” features frontwoman Lucinda John-Duarte’s silky and emotive lead vocals amidst slowly unfolding guitar rhythms and synth lines which retain the beauty, darkness and immediacy of Duarte’s voice. Hopefully their charming, compelling pop tales will bring this band overseas to play in the land they reference in their name and the country’s other various states. —Lizzie Manno

12. Lala Lala
Chicago singer-songwriter Lillie West performs and records under the name, Lala Lala. It’s one of those names that looks good on paper but kind of sounds like a farce. Luckily, West’s music is anything but. Her debut LP, Sleepyhead, was released in 2016 and she’s due to release a follow-up, The Lamb, next month through Hardly Art. Her lo-fi indie-rock sound is personal, warm and contemplative and she finds strength in both triumphant hooks and moments of poignant self-doubt. The album’s melancholy lead single, “Destroyer,” reflects on past pain and self-destruction while on the woozy, midtempo new single, “Water Over Sex,” West tries to keep her head above water and grapple with a healthier lifestyle. —Lizzie Manno

13. Phantastic Ferniture
Sydney rock trio Phantastic Ferniture released their self-titled debut album this summer via Polyvinyl and it’s so freaking good that you’ll be willing to forgive their crimes against the English language in their band name. Across the album’s nine tracks, the band excels with their danceable garage-pop and indie-rock, and frontwoman Julia Jacklin’s charismatic lead vocals will please fans of retro pop songs, modern rock and even the blues and folk crowds as the remnants of her past folk music endeavors still reverberate in her voice. On “Dark Corner Dance Floor,” Jacklin’s swaggering vocals call to mind a badass Western film, and her voice is hypnotizing enough to convince you to steal a muscle car for her and drive away victoriously into the desert sunset. —Lizzie Manno

14. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat
Like a local culture writer on assignment or a winking way to describe the empirical concept of “rhythm,” the moniker Ed Schrader’s Music Beat further alienates the listener from their already-alienating, super ironic pastiche of yacht rock, lounge lizardry, weirdo desert scuzz and all things wonderfully antithetical to the four words a guy named Ed Schrader would probably use to describe the group of divorced dads who jam in his basement every Sunday afternoon. There’s nothing cool about divorce, but Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s songs are very cool. At least a guy named Ed Schrader is actually in the band. —Dom Sinacola

15. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys
Sydney, Australia has become the perfect hotbed for ramshackle garage-pop groups that often sound like they are holding their instruments and sanity together by sheer force of will. In some fashion, that’s what makes this wonderful quartet’s ridiculous name almost well-chosen. It’s a winking reference to the kind of sheet soiling shenanigans young men can get into once they’ve had a lot too much to drink. That may have fit the early days of the band when they were a lot sloppier and prone to alcohol-fueled antics. But now that they’re maturing as an ensemble and as people, it might be time to move on to something more becoming. Or at least something I can say out loud with a straight face. —Robert Ham

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