In amongst the smoking wasteland that’s this week’s album release schedule, we did spy a record by Atlanta up-and-comers Ponderosa — their second album, in fact, which is out this week. We’ve been kinda dimly aware of the band over the last year or so, and always assumed that they took their band name from the most excellent Tricky song of the same name. It turns out that as far as we can tell, this is not the case, but regardless, this did catalyze an intra-office discussion about bands who genuinely are named after songs or albums by other bands. There are plenty about — here are some of the most notable. Let us know if we’ve forgotten anyone.
Named for the second track off Roxy Music’s glorious debut album, Ladytron certainly have the louche glamor of Bryan Ferry et al down pat, and their synth-driven sounds also owe more than a little to a certain Mr. Brian Eno, who was very much still a member of Roxy Music when “Ladytron” was recorded. It seems that Eno rather likes them, too.
Some bands’ names come from entirely unexpected sources — it was only in the course of researching this feature, for instance, that we discovered that Spoon are named for the thoroughly excellent Can song of the same name. It’s a stretch drawing any sort of parallel between Can’s brain-bending psychedelic awesomeness and Spoon’s pleasantly accomplished indie rock — but still, we like Spoon just a wee bit more now.
Conversely, it makes perfect sense to learn that Boris took their name from a Melvins song. We’d love to see a Melvins/Boris joint headline tour one day, although we’re not entirely sure our eardrums could take the punishment.
Honestly, if we had to choose a song to name ourselves after, an ode to the joys of heroin written by the man who was a strong contender for the title of music’s most sad and disastrous junkie… well, it probably wouldn’t be top of our list, put it that way. Still, considering Godsmack sound awfully like an Alice in Chains cover band at times, maybe the name’s more appropriate than it appears.
Although he’s now going by his own name, singer/songwriter Toby Burke spent most of the ’00s recording under the name Horse Stories, which as any Dirty Three fan will tell you is taken from Warren Ellis et al’s 1996 masterwork. While Burke’s work doesn’t approach the thunderous majesty of the Dirty Three’s finest record, it does share a similar atmosphere of disquiet, and is well worth investigating.
Uh Huh Her
Bands who name themselves in homage to another band’s work generally do so at some sort of chronological distance — as this list demonstrates, it tends to be the work of previous generations to which bands refer, rather than contemporary artists. No such problems for Uh Huh Her, however, who named themselves for a PJ Harvey song that was barely three years old when they got together. (The song, incidentally, isn’t on the album of the same name, but there are various live versions floating about, including the Peel Sessions one above.)
Surely the only band ever named after a mondegreen, Australian punk pioneers Radio Birdman took their name from a line in Iggy and the Stooges’ manic Saturday night anthem “1970,” from serious Best Album Ever contender Funhouse — the actual lyric is “Radio burning up above,” but if you listen, it totally does sound like “Radio birdman up above,” which is arguably a better lyric anyway.
Between the Buried and Me
It is to our public discredit that the instant we heard of this band, we knew that they took their name from a lyric in Counting Crows’ “Ghost Train,” off of Duritz and co.’s debut album August and Everything After. We are discussing guilty album pleasures later in the week — you can rest assured that Counting Crows will feature at some point.
Sisters of Mercy
We’ve occasionally wondered idly whether Sisters of Mercy were named for the Leonard Cohen song. The answer, apparently, is yes.
And finally, yes, Radiohead. The band formerly known as On a Friday thankfully decided that that name wasn’t gonna fly on a long-term basis — for a start, it confused the hell out of everyone when they played on any other day of the week — and renamed themselves after a song from Talking Heads’ True Stories. The rest is history, and all that.