A Eulogy for Great Bands We Lost This Year

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Maybe all good things really must come to an end, but it seems a little cruel that seven of them had to do so this year. With careers spanning from less than five years to nearly two decades, the bands that broke up in 2010 all left a mark on the music map that won’t be soon forgotten. It’s sad to think we’re entering 2011 knowing we won’t hear new music from any of these artists or be able to see them live, so let’s keep our fingers crossed for new groups to pick up the slack. For those who quit their rock, here’s our salute to you.

Wolf Parade

It’s technically an indefinite hiatus, but considering how many other projects these guys have their hands in (Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, Handsome Furs, Frog Eyes, etc.) it seems unlikely they’ll be back together anytime soon. What started haphazardly as support for an Arcade Fire tour became one of the most consistently solid indie rock bands of the past decade, with two excellent songwriters — Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner — at the helm and a handful of equally talented musicians backing them up. Each of their three fantastic albums was different, and the deep dedication evident in their live performances makes their split seem all the more abrupt. The band has left a big gap, and it’s going to take someone seriously joyful to fill it in again. We won’t believe in just anything, but we did believe in Wolf Parade.

Gowns

It wouldn’t surprise us one bit if the music world finally discovers Gowns years from now and their only album, 2008’s astonishing Red State, becomes an instant classic. What little recognition they received in the press was glowing and fervently evangelical — writers published pleas to God for more bands like this one and instructed readers to seriously inconvenience themselves if necessary to see Gowns live. It sounds overblown, but believe us when we say such hyperbole was completely warranted. With this breakup we lost one of the most fearless groups in recent memory, who touched on something difficult to describe but without a doubt profound and beautiful. All three of its members continue to work on other projects, but it’s unimaginable that anything this exceptional could happen again.

Voxtrot

In the past decade or so, it sometimes seemed like a ridiculous memo got around that said making pretty, catchy music wasn’t cool anymore. Voxtrot thankfully ignored it and went on to produce a small but timeless collection of irresistible songs spread across three EPs and one full-length. It’s hard to decide which aspect of their music was most impressive — tight and varied instrumentation, well-written and outlandishly clever lyrics, or their talent for seamlessly combining the two into perfect indie pop. Voxtrot’s songs reveal something new with every listen, a rare but desperately needed trait that demands the careful attention one often forgets in our hype-addled world.

Isis

After 13 years of inventive and impossible-to-categorize music, these pioneers of post-metal sludge came to an amicable end at the close of their final tour in June. Covering almost the entire hardcore spectrum in one career is unthinkable, but Isis did it and added a few new twists to the genre along the way. They inspired and influenced a generation of new bands, remaining hardworking and serious about their ideals through every album. Since the band was always ready to discuss the more intellectual aspects of their music, it’s no wonder their output was so nuanced and uncompromisingly complex. Never on the radio, but always in our hearts — they’ll be sorely missed.

Supergrass

One year at summer camp a friend of ours rewrote the lyrics to “Alright” to be more appropriate for kids, and when we asked about the catchy new song he’d introduced, he played us the real version and we fell in love with Supergrass. They’d been slowing down for a while before announcing their breakup, but an official end doesn’t make the end of their brand of jangly rock any less sad. Few bands can last 17 years with their vision intact, but Supergrass did it with style and a delightfully irreverent attitude.

Also, please take a second to appreciate this picture of the band. Seriously, they were awesome.

Ponytail

Equal parts endearing and bizarre, Ponytail always seemed more like a fiery ball of pure spastic energy than simply a band. Although both their LPs (2006’s Kamehameha and 2008’s Ice Cream Spiritual) stood as excellent additions to any experimental rock fan’s library, it was Ponytail’s shows that created a legacy. A complete lack of pretense and utter disregard for others’ judgment allowed singer Molly Siegel to use otherworldy wails and screeches instead of lyrics, a surprisingly effective vocal method that would sound unbearable coming from any other band. Her exuberance combined with the band’s relentless thrashing left audiences with no choice but cathartic, reckless dancing. Bedroom jam sessions could never measure up, but now that Ponytail’s gone we’ll have to make do with what we’ve got.

Mobius Band

Understated but still catchy electro seems to emerge only every few years before the popularity of louder, more aggressive acts forces it back into hibernation. We hoped Mobius Band would stick it out much longer and hold down the rockin’-but-pleasant fort in the dance music spectrum. That they also included thoughtful and well-written lyrics was a rarity in their niche and makes their disappearance even more disappointing. Luckily, the band made enough music to stay fresh in our memories, but we’ll always wish there were more to bob our heads along with while we daydream.