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A New Bracket Contest: The Coolest Band Names Ever (That Most People Don’t Know)

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A few weeks ago…

(…months maybe? Time gets away from me… )

Contributing Author Bill Bois led the charge for a really fun tnocs.com bracket contest. His mission?

To find the best band name that never existed.

Now, we’ve all heard the stories of bands who were forced to change their names because another relatively unknown band was already performing under that name. For instance:

Blink-182 had to change their name from simply ‘Blink,’ because a Dublin band had that name first.

And Snow Patrol had to give up ‘Shrug’ and ‘Polar Bear’ before they settled on their final name because of similar issues.

All of this started me thinking about some of the really good band names that few people had ever heard of.

Maybe the band was a local bar band that never got past the club stage because they liked their day jobs, a la Sultans of Swing. Maybe they had a recording contract that went nowhere; whether that was a result of personnel changes, substandard material, or insufficient talent.

Possibly, in the words of the great Webb Wilder, they “hit the big time and bounced right off” with a regional hit or two.

But, for whatever reason, they just never got the widespread audience that their names deserved.

I am sure that our TNOCS family as a whole has spent the equivalent of years in concert halls, clubs, and bars, and has heard thousands of bands. Both good and bad, but in all cases: with names that still resonate.

For purposes of this contest, we aren’t actually interested in the talent of the band.

What we’re interested in are the names of the bands.

What bands have you heard that sported original names? That more people should have had the opportunity to hear?

We’ll take nominations today and tomorrow for bands to include in the brackets. I’ll sort out the top 16 names, and we’ll have daily voting all next week – with the big reveal on Friday, February 23.

“What’s the criteria?,” you ask?

Easy!

They must be real names of actual bands that never got the recognition that they deserved. (again, the name, not the band).

I have two nominations. The first is a Nashville bar band formed in the 90’s called The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies.

They made several records and toured with some well-known acts, including opening for ZZ Top. Far too few people are familiar with a really classic band name.

My second nomination is also a Nashville bar band, featuring our own Bill “Virgindog” Bois on bass, and sporting one of the best band names ever. I give you: Pussycat Doghouse: 

What bands have you seen or heard that have original or fun names that more people should have heard?

Get your nominations in! Let’s have some fun, and be sure to tune in every day next week for the bracket voting!

Let the author know that you liked their article with a “Green Thumb” Upvote! 

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rollerboogie
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February 15, 2024 5:29 am

A friend of mine was in a jam band called Frozen Moses. They lasted a couple of years and cut a demo. I always loved that name.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 15, 2024 7:04 am

Very nice. I do love me some clever or zany band names.

Off the top of my head, there are these (both from Japan):

Thee Michelle Gun Elephant

and

OOIOO” (which I think is pronounced like the chant of the flying monkey guards in Wizard of Oz)

I guess there’s also “Godspeed You! Black Emperor,” the post-rock band from Montreal. The name is cribbed from a Japanese movie, incidentally.

Hey, I’m sensing a pattern here….

Ah yes!

None of the band names have “a” as a vowel.

Virgindog
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February 15, 2024 11:15 am

Another good Japanese band name is Bump Of Chicken.

I saw Godspeed You! Black Emperor open for Nine Inch Nails. The lights didn’t dim nor did they say anything to the audience. They just came on stage one by one and started playing. It was a minute or so before my son and I realized they had started. They played one 45 minute long song and, one by one, left the stage as the others continued playing. Very cool instrumental stuff.

DJ Professor Dan
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February 15, 2024 11:16 am

Speaking of Japanese bands, I love the band name Limited Express (Has Gone?), mostly because you so rarely get parenthesis in band names.

Parenthesis? Aka brackets! Does that mean I win?

rollerboogie
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February 15, 2024 11:26 am

Was (Not Was) would be another parenthesis band.

Pauly Steyreen
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February 15, 2024 11:25 am

Godspeed You! Black Emperor was pretty big — I’ve actually heard of them.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 15, 2024 12:49 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

OOIOO is not super famous, but it was Yoshimi P-We’s band’s outside of the Boredoms.

ISurvivedPop
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February 15, 2024 7:34 am

I’m going to have to give my vote to Various Artists.
https://www.discogs.com/artist/35580-Various-Artists-2

Virgindog
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February 15, 2024 9:09 am

It’s an honor just to be nominated. Thanks, lovethisconcept!

I’ve always liked a Boston band called Sorry. They’d come on stage and say, “Hi. We’re Sorry.”

Pauly Steyreen
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February 15, 2024 11:36 am

I’m wondering what’s the threshold for success above which we are not considering nominations?

Bands that were big at some level but probably not household names:
Throbbing Gristle (Phylum’s favorite)
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Atomic Kitten
The The
Bowling for Soup

(I’m guessing most of these are too well-known, but throwing them out there as we determine where to draw the line…)

Local Triangle Area bands from 30 years ago that definitely were not famous:
Picasso Trigger
Queen Sarah Saturday
Erectus Monotone
Bicycle Face
Camper Van Chadbourne

Of course, we could make a full competition just based on black metal or death metal band names, which I’ll avoid now to protect the innocence of some of our dear readers.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 15, 2024 12:46 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

Favorite? No way. Erectus Monotone blows TG out of the water.

Eric-J
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February 18, 2024 2:22 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

I definitley remember Picasso Trigger and Bicycle Face, but then again I was living in the Triange 30 years ago.

JJ Live At Leeds
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February 15, 2024 12:51 pm

Super Furry Animals
We Were Promised Jetpacks
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
Camper Van Beethoven
Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine
Sparklehorse
Future Bible Heroes
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
The Cinematic Orchestra
? And The Mysterians
Rocket From The Crypt

I should probably stop there.

rollerboogie
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February 15, 2024 5:52 pm

1, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 13 are from fairly well known to very well known so I’m not sure they fit ltc’s criteria. 2, 3,4,5, 7 and 9 are all pure gold and I would vote for any one of them.

JJ Live At Leeds
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February 16, 2024 5:06 am
Reply to  rollerboogie

Familiarity may vary by geographical location!

thegue
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February 18, 2024 12:51 pm

I’ve seen #2 and #5 in concert!

Low4
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February 15, 2024 1:16 pm

I was a student at UGA in the late ’70s and early ’80s when the music scene was exploding. There were dozens (maybe a hundred) of bands popping into and out of existence. I’ll skip the obvious big names and list a few bands that did exist during those days–some with a bit of success and some never more than bar bands.

Coup d’Etat
Rack of Spam
Little Tigers
Love Tractor
Art in the Dark
Banned 37
Normaltown Flyers
The Squalls
Men in Trees
Is Ought Gap
Phil and the Blanks

Virgindog
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February 15, 2024 2:53 pm
Reply to  Low4

I’ve heard of Love Tractor and Phil and the Blanks, but I couldn’t name any of their songs.

rollerboogie
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February 15, 2024 3:31 pm
Reply to  Low4

Probably not the same band as the one on your list, but Phil ‘N’ the Blanks was a punk/new wave dance band out of Chicago from 79-86. Very popular around here, and got college radio airplay mostly. I had friends into them, but I never actually heard them until now. Hmmm, reminiscent of Devo, but way hornier.

Low4
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February 15, 2024 4:40 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

No, not the same band, I’d guess. “MY” PatB were more new-wavy. Apparently the name (and close variations) has been used by several bands over the years.

Pauly Steyreen
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February 18, 2024 2:28 pm
Reply to  Low4

What about Her Hair Jelly?

blu_cheez
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February 15, 2024 4:04 pm

Japancakes
El-Ten Eleven
Crash Test Dummies
Godspeed! You Black Emperor
Nerf Herder
Tokyo Police Club
… And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead
Future Bible Heroes

I’ll stop there.

Virgindog
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February 15, 2024 4:17 pm
Reply to  blu_cheez

El-Ten Eleven are great! I saw them at SXSW twenty years ago. Very interesting stuff.

Virgindog
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February 16, 2024 9:16 am

You have some tough choices to narrow down to 16.

Also, let me add Gang Green and Noise Pencil.

Virgindog
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February 16, 2024 1:51 pm

Speaking of, there’s a new band here in Nashville called Pressure Heaven.

thegue
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February 18, 2024 12:56 pm
Reply to  blu_cheez

I’ve seen Tokyo Police Club 3 times, which puts them in my Ring of Honor (other than George Clinton/Parliament/Funkadelic, I’ve never seen an artist more than 3 times).

The problem with their name is how popular “club” became for a band name, much like adding a number to a band name around 2000 (Sum 41, Blink 182, etc)

Two Door Cinema Club, Bombay Bicycle Club, Wild Cub (missing the L), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club…

Ozmoe
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February 17, 2024 8:24 pm

I may go to hell for submitting this one, but it’s stuck with me ever since I heard of the group: Sandy Duncan’s Eye (Google “Sandy Duncan” and you’ll learn why)

thegue
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February 18, 2024 12:57 pm

One of my favorite stories is about a band called Ghosts of Pasha.

Check out the story, interviews, etc.

thegue
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February 18, 2024 1:19 pm

Band Names;

Hungry Kids of Hungary
!!!
Foxygen
Hippo Campus
Japandroids
Pure Bathing Culture
St Pepsi
Soccer Mommy
Tigers That Talked
Amusement Parks on Fire
Asobi Seksu
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Jack’s Mannequin
The Last Shadow Puppets
Mobius Band
The Morning Benders
Nightmare of You
She Wants Revenge
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
VHS or Beta

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