Top 10 Indie Band-Name Clichés of the '00s

Whilst alternative music fused into strange new shapes in the '00s, all the band names started to sound the same. Bands may've been using broadband-'acquired' music collections and easy computer recording to embrace artistic liberation, but the monikers they chose adhered to a new set of conventions. Not simply the classic, pluralized 'The Whatevers,' but distinct trends specific to this century. And, here they are: the ten biggest band-name clichés of the decade.

(Incidentally, if you're starting a new band, just pick two of them and you're good to go. Black Bear, Crystal Girls, Wolvvves... they choose themselves!)

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Wolf & Cub 'Science and Sorcery'
Wolf & Cub 'Science and Sorcery'. Dot Dash

It's the ne plus ultra of new-millennial band-name clichés. Around 2005, the indie realm got one colossal case of the Kevin Costners, with seemingly every second outfit dressed in a Wolf costume. Whilst there's an obvious parallel to nature —like bands, wolves run in packs— and an obvious appeal in taking your name from a carnivorous mammal, at this point the lupine stigma is such that no new band could dare consider making the Wolf their totem.

Examples: Wolf Parade, Wolf Gang, Wolf People, Wolf & Cub, Wolfmother, Wolf Colonel, Wolf Eyes, We Are Wolves, Wolves in the Throne Room, Woelv, Wolfkin, Turbowolf, Superwolf, Seasons of the Wolf, Tiger Bear Wolf, Sea Wolf, High Wolf, AIDS Wolf, Patrick Wolf, Peter and the Wolf, Le Loup.

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Other Animals

Panda Bear 'Person Pitch'
Panda Bear 'Person Pitch'. Paw Tracks

Whilst none had the overwhelming constancy of the Wolf, there were plenty of other mammalian handles populating the indie menagerie. Deer, Ponies, Horses, Bears, and Rabbits were recurring characters, proving that it's not just college football teams and doo-wop street gangs beholden to animal mascots.

Examples: White Rabbits, Frightened Rabbit, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, Gram Rabbit... Deerhunter, Deerhoof, Deer Tick, Deer Tracks... Grizzly Bear, Panda Bear, Seabear, Bear in Heaven, Bearsuit, Minus the Bear... The Ponys, Pony Up!, Pony Club, New Young Pony Club, Ponies in the Surf, Ponytail... Band of Horses, Toy Horses, Horse Feathers, An Horse, Drunk Horse, Iron Horse, Night Horse.

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Holy Fuck 'LP'
Holy Fuck 'LP'. XL

Pardon my French, but it's been impossible to miss the rise of naughty naughties names. Where bands dropping up-front F-bombs may once have offended, now no one bats an eyelid at a titular blue-streak. When hardcore combo Fucked Up scored a haul of corporate Canadian cash via the Polaris Prize, it proved that even The Man is now fine with language unsuitable for minors. These curse names are simultaneously a sign o' the times (a commercial-radio presence no longer necessary for success) and more evidence that rock'n'roll dwells in a state of eternal adolescence.


: Holy Fuck, Fucked Up, Fuck Buttons, The Fucking Ocean, The Fucking Champs, The Fucking Am, Condo Fucks, Starfucker, Ima Fucking Gymnist, Jackie-O Motherfucker.

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Girls 'Album'
Girls 'Album'. True Panther Sound/Matador

If the preponderance of Fuck bands suggested a state of suspended adolescence, what're we to make of the overwhelming rash of 'Girl' bands? Especially given so many so-called Girls are, indeed, dudes? Is this a continuing case of the infantilization of the female gender? Just some bad jokes? Or are their just a hell of a lot of fans of Mötley Crüe/Jay-Z/Elvis Presley/Elvis Costello/Liz Phair out there?


: Girls, The Girls, Little Girls, U.S. Girls, Some Girls, Dum Dum Girls, Fungi Girls, Vivian Girls, The Micragirls, All Girl Summer Fun Band, A Girl Called Eddy, Theoretical Girl, Parenthetical Girls, Sun City Girls.

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Little Boots 'Arecibo'
Little Boots 'Arecibo'. Iamsound

If Girls isn't enough of a diminutive, how about Little? Or, indeed, Canadian noise-poppers Little Girls? Neither small nor feminine, that band suggest a recent trend towards talking oneself down. Literally. The large number of Little bands mirrors the disastrous Olsen Twins-inspired fashion trend that ruled the '00s, where self-styled 'Little Girls' dressed in oversized sunglasses, shirts, cardigans, slumping boots, and handbags, in an attempt to visually convey birdlike tininess unto the world.


: Little Girls, Little Boots, Little Wings, Little Claw, Little Dragon, Little Joy, Little Name, One Little Plane.

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Crystal Skulls 'Blocked Numbers'
Crystal Skulls 'Blocked Numbers'. Suicide Squeeze

Long favored as a name by "exotic dancers," Crystal caught on towards the end of the '00s with a handful of high-profile bands. Proving that, even when it comes to band-name trends, quality is better than quantity, the simultaneous 'arrival' of California psych-rock firebrands Crystal Antlers, moody New Yorker dudes Crystal Stilts, and Canadian electro-noise shriekers Crystal Castles in 2008 created the perception that Crystal was the new Wolf. However, in spite of the immediate associations with Fleetwood Mac, Crystal already seems to be a name on the wane. Unless you want to think outside the box with raucous Portland garage-rockers Meth Teeth.


: Crystal Stilts, Crystal Antlers, Crystal Castles, Crystal Skulls, Crystal Arcade.

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Black & White

Black Lips/The Whitest Boy Alive
Black Lips/The Whitest Boy Alive. Vice/Service

They're the original odd couple: Good & Evil, Yin & Yang, Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney. Black and white proved perennial throughout the '00s, whether bands were riffing on a surname (The White Stripes), self-mocking skin color (Black Kids, The Whitest Boy Alive), or uncorking cliché (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club).


: Black Kids, Black Lips, Black Eyes, Black Dice, BLK JKS, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Black Moth Super Rainbow, The Black Hollies, Black Mold, Black Water, Blackout Beach, Black Mountain, Black Angels, Black Keys, Small Black, Soft Black, Blackblack... White Rabbits, White Antelope, White Hinterland, White Rainbow, White Magic, White Flight, White Denim, White Williams, The Whitest Boy Alive, The White Stripes.

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Repetition Repetition

Shout Out Out Out Out's Shirt Irt Irt Irt Irt
Shout Out Out Out Out's Shirt Irt Irt Irt Irt. Shout Out Out Out Out

The spirit of godawful soft-pop outfit Mr. Mister lingered large over the oughts' alternative landscape, as a host of bands doubled their naming pleasure. Figuring that two are better than one, or that multiplying words can aid standing out in the realm of search engines, we got lots and lots of Band Bands. Boon times for the hard of hearing.

Examples: Blackblack, Magic Magic, Willow Willow, Letters Letters, Jemima Jemima, Zombie Zombie, Neon Neon, Controller.controller, Voicesvoices, Tys Tys, Xiu Xiu, Man Man, Bam Bam, City City City, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Gang Gang Dance, Now Now Every Children, Hungry Hungry Ghost, Ra Ra Riot, Hot Hot Heat, Shout Out Out Out Out, Polka Dot Dot Dot, So So Modern, Music Go Music, Taxi Taxi!

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The Extraneous Consonant

Nodzzz 'Nodzzz'
Nodzzz 'Nodzzz'. Slumberland

The 2000s were a decade that introduced a new conundrum for bands brainstorming a name: search engine placement. Call yourself something iconic like Songs (as one Sydney indie-pop band has), and you'll be buried amongst "about 80 million" returns on Google. In response to such, an enterprising trend arose: simple names spelled wacky. Why call yourself Mayors, and get lost in the political news shuffle, when you can be Mayyors? Given the death of the English language in the internet era, the extra-letter approach seems to have a limitless future. Unless the stigma of Wavves —overhyped bad-news-magnet that he is— nips the movement in the bud before it ever blossoms.

Examples: Wavves, Nodzzz, Lovvers, Mayyors.

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The Exclamation Mark

!!!. GSL

There were a lot of excited bands in the '00s. Sometimes, their exclamatory names matched the music, as with Los Campesinos!, or party-starters The Go! Team. With others, like nugazers On!Air!Library!, all those points were merely an eyesore. And though !!! were true purists, no one rocked the exclamation mark like You Say Party! We Say Die!, whose Hit the Floor! LP featured "Cold Hands! Hot Bodies!," "You Did It!," and "He! She! You! Me! They! We! Us! OK."

Examples: !!!, On!Air!Library!, You Say Party! We Say Die!, Schwervon!, Volcano!, Oh! Belgium, Cause Co-Motion!, Pants Yell!, Los Campesinos!, Weave!, Taxi Taxi!, Get Back Guinozzi!, Thunderbirds are Now!, Pacific!, Pony Up!, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Go! Team, Die! Die! Die!.