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by: Paula Mejia

Okay, I’ll admit it. It’s true: as a huge literature nerd, I can’t seem to escape the ever-handy form of writing known as the literary analysis, a crucial staple in the English Major Bible concerning all things writing and (let’s be honest) bullshittery. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that this form of writing didn’t affect my everyday life. Fresh out of exams and braindead, when I should be catching up on a semester’s worth of lost sleep, I’m instead curled up in my vacant living room, filled only with suitcases and a half-filled Mason jar of tomato sauce, writing yet another literary analysis–willingly, this time–concerning the influx of clever albeit odd indie band names that have surfaced this past year.

These top five indie band names of 2011, in my humble opinion, have both fallen victim to my love of words and deserve some serious attention. Don’t be surprised to see any of these rising bands shoot up the ranks of indie stardom very soon. Extra points for the clever names.

Let the nerdiness commence!

1. Is And Of The: The form of the verb “to be” in this band’s name functions as a method of conveying stasis. Thus, it displays what’s important to them, a constant static element in their sound: the undeniable influence of ambient, atmospheric soundscapes reminiscent of early Deerhunter and Boards of Canada, while maintaing an intimate relationship with the shoegaze, wall of sound guitar effects with sighing delay pedals from the likes of My Bloody Valentine. The implementation of the world “of” in the center of the phrase embraces the aesthetic of embracement and belonging that this band creates from layering psychedelia, post-rock and electronic in their first release on Mush Records. The title of their debut, Heads Phased For Dreamless Sleep? Now that’s a whole other analysis altogether.

2. Bass Drum Of Death: The band’s utilization of the word “death” in their title highlights their desire to explore existentialism, operating with the philosophy of: we might die at any moment, so let’s be sure to make a huge fucking racket before we do. Consequently, combining gritty garage rock sounds, distortion that sinks into your ears, subtle drones and the raw static of punk shows from screeching singer John Barrett, the band makes the “bass drum” the central component of the phrase due to the rough but persistent percussion on their entire debut GB City. The capitalization of all four letters in the band’s name enhances the performative nature of the name, as much as the music itself: loud, dirty and in your face while still maintaining a consistent thread of classic rock & roll sounds.

3. Youth Lagoon: The world Trevor Powers crafts for his project stems from the choice of diction, particularly with his compelling emphasis concerning aesthetics. The word “youth” implies a youthful voice gaining a burgeoning maturity while “lagoon” implies a mystical place, lost somewhere between the thin line separating dreams from reality. With minimalist electronic beats and lush, gorgeous synthesizers, the conscious word choice of lagoon as opposed to say, sea or brook, measures its expanse. It’s not vast, like the ocean. Rather, the role of water in The Year of Hibernation symbolically demonstrates the ebb and flow of emotional change, due to temperaments as much as experience.

4. Dirty Beaches: The word “dirty” in this name alludes to not the connotation implying filth, but a sort of hidden charm nestled somewhere deeply in the unkempt. In the solo-esque project of Taiwanese-born Alex Hungtai, a deep sense of longing takes hold of the listener, enhanced by his seductive drawl. Accompanied by just-out-of-tune pianos, a saxophone and crunching guitars wash over a smoky haze of nostalgia. The introduction of “beaches” inevitably conjures strong imagery of waves on a deserted beach, crashing with the gentle – albeit entrancing – lull of previous tides. Hence, the debut album Badlands exemplifies the rapidly passing scenes of faraway drives down bleak highways. Thematically, the band’s name implies the introduction of the binary between distance and familiarity.

5. Purity Ring: The word “purity” implies an ironization of themes, particularly with the concept of innocence. Ghoulish vocals shrouded in shadows and swelling orchestral tunes, simultaneously layered over lush layers of 80s-infused electropop causes the Canadian band’s sound to flirt the line between haunting and whimsical. Ominous undertones become prevalent through the implementation of the word “ring” for the rising musicians, serving as a beautiful disguise for a sort of sinister awe, concealed in between many layers of synthesizers.