What’s In a Name?!
So at some point in the last few weeks, R. bought a printed tank top that reads, “Wherefore art thou? @Romeo”. When she first wore it, I found it hilarious and kept laughing about it all day. I have no idea why I find it so funny, but I can’t help it. Twitter is just amusing, I guess.
Anyway, every once in a while I’ll think about Explosions in the Sky, a post-rock instrumental band from right here in the ATX (as the kids said like 10 years ago), and when I do, I inevitably start thinking about the name. You see, it was at one point a somewhat unfortunate name. They released their second album, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever on September 4, 2011, with with an image of a plane on the cover. As you might imagine, an album with a plane on the cover by a band called Explosions in the Sky is a bit of a marketing nightmare in the aftermath of a horrible, nation-altering terrorist attack involving planes hitting skyscrapers.
Aside from the unfortunate aspect, though, it’s actually a pretty great name because it seems to describe their sound: long, often meandering instrumentals punctuated by intense bursts of guitar, sort of like explosions.
I know it’s not for everyone, particularly since their songs are so long, and they have such melodramatic titles, but every once in a while I find it soothing to put on The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, their third and probably best album, don the noise-cancelling headphones, and just chill to their ethereal guitar licks.
Pretty much every time I start thinking about the name Explosions in the Sky, I start wondering what other bands sound like their name. It’s kind of a fun game, because unless the band is just way too literal, or a heavy metal band with the word “death” in their name, it’s going to be a matter of interpretation. I always come up with different answers, and as often as not I think the answers I came up with last time are stupid and obviously wrong (this is also what has happened with every research idea I’ve ever come up with, coincidentally). Here are a few of my latest answers, but this is an interactive post, so I’m really more interested in your answers.
First up, Washed Out:
I admit this one might be a bit of a stretch, but Washed Out, with their 80s synthpop-influenced sound, inevitably reminds me of M83, but their sound is deliberately muted in a way that suggests something was taken, or washed, away. It’s like M83 after years of erosion. Especially the vocals, which often seem distant and slightly out of sync.
Now I admit I could just have Washed Out on my mind, because their debut album, Within and Without is one of my favorites of the last few years. I mean, it’s got a song on it called “Amor Fati.” How does someone as (mildly) obsessed with Nietzsche as I am not like a band, and album, with song called “Amor Fati”?
(That’s a kinda awesome video, too.)
There are more obvious choices, of course. The Moody Blues:
Who are both moody and bluesy. By the way, how did they become a cheesy 80s band?
Black Sabbath, with music as dark and disturbing as the name implies:
(Best rock song ever? Yes.)
New Order, but only in the context of their evolution from Joy Division (which had little joy, making their name ironic at best).
CunningLinguists, who it turns out use more words than Shakespeare, and have like the 5th largest vocabulary in hip hop, suggesting that they are, in fact, cunning linguists (a few bad words):
Solillaquists of Sound, though soliloquy might describe a lot of hip hop, it seems extra fitting for such an expressive group with a poet writing much of the lyrics:
Digitalism, for fairly obvious reasons:
Who incorporate the antique into their live shows as much as they do the beats part.
And again, every heavy metal band ever. So anyway, what examples have you come up with? And Nickle Back doesn’t count just because the name has become synonymous with lame (sorry Kazzy).