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Every bunch of garage-bound hopefuls knows the most difficult part of being in a band isn’t learning how to play your instruments, coming up with an original sound, or even finding a reasonably well-adjusted drummer. It’s deciding on a band name.
In fact, something like 87 percent of bands break up long before ever settling on a name. Imagine: After spending weeks or even months arguing over whether a bad band name (My Cousin Cletus) or worse band name (Scarlett Johansson Fever) will do, finally compromising on something everyone can agree onor at least not be too embarrassed by (Heart-Sticker Notebook)and then proudly releasing your debut EP, you discover there’s a group in Cleveland that’s just as clever.
Even if there will probably never be another Egg Huntor, for that matter, another Slickee Boys or Jonathan Fire*Eaterin a sizable music town like Washington, the odds of running across a band that shares its name with another are fairly good. So as a public service to D.C.-area music consumers, the Washington City Paper offers this chart to aid in determining which Gist gets the gist and which Dee really wants to rock. (When it comes to whether Lou Reid is waiting for his man, however, you’re on your own.)
Who’s the Real Deal?
Fake French (Dischord, 2003)
“We were basically the same as [Guapo] until recently,” says drummer/bassist/vocalist Justin, er, Moyer. “Is there any difference really between any kind of rock music? Just oversexed dudes jumping around, right?”
Art Is Now Human (Red Stapler, 2003)
“The 10 o’clock news/Shows the under-belly of society/And the 11 o’clock news shows us/What’s under that/Wife kills husband/Man caught molesting/
KKK/…What’s my middle name?”
“Luckily, we’ve always used ‘Gist’ and never ‘the Gist,’” e-mails vocalist/guitarist Nayan Bhula. “A really small distinction, but an important one for us!…I don’t think [the Gist] play anymore, but if they do, we’ll have a battle of the bands to see who gets the name!!”
Wake Me Up and F*** Me (Red Dragon Press, 1996)
“The dead part stirs/Wants you to hurt/So I can feel/Really feel something.”
“I did see [Snider] at Jaxx last year,” says Snyder. “I don’t own any of his albums.”
College Park, Md.
Wish and Wait (Eyeball, 2003)
“I let you in with a heartbeat/Breathed you out in a sigh.”
“I will say that a Peruvian band deserves a Spanish name more than three women from D.C.,” drummer Katy Otto says. “But [bassist] Basla [Andolsun] liked a Linda Ronstadt song with that phrase in it.”
ELO (Everyone Loves Originality)
Radio-friendly, socially aware hiphop
Back From Nowhere (IronBeatz, 2003)
“I admit my mental state is raggedy/I guess it comes from ELO facin’ so much tragedy.”
The rapper, born Lorenzo Lawson, actually pronounces his grandmother-given moniker “EE-lo.” “Our fans,” he notes, “will never be confused.”
Postpunk prog rock
Great Sage, Equal of Heaven (Pandemonium/tUMULt, 2001)
According to guitarist/bassist/electronicist Matt Thompson, the difference is simple: “We have a gong. They don’t.”
Unclassifiably quirky postpunk
Embrace the Herd (Rough Trade, 1982; reissued by Rykodisc, 1999)
“Private humans fear and grieve/Silent, lonely visions feed/If you like a picture in a magazine/What does it mean?”
Small distinction, small dischminction: With this and his earlier group, Young Marble Giants, ever-eclectic vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Stuart Moxham practically invented indieROCKemopoppunkmetaljazzbluesexcept for maybe the “metal” part.
Strangeland (via Long Island, N.Y.)
Hair metal-cum-performance art
Never Let the Bastards Wear You Down (Koch, 2000)
“We are the people/We are the one/We’ve got the numbers/We’ll have our fun.”
If you’re playing Jaxx, you’re no longer the real deal.
Un Amor Mató al Futuro (“A Love Killed the Future”) (Click New Wave, 2003)
Aunque me des mil planos/Del cielo y el mundo/No sé hallar líneas rectas/Para lleqar a ti (“Even if you gave me a thousand maps/Of heaven and earth/I don’t know how to find the straight lines/To get to you”).
Peruvian expats making 21st-century Eurodisco in between creating music for various sculptural projects? We’ll take the three women from D.C.
ELO (Electric Light Orchestra)
Radio-friendly, classically aware art rock
The Essential Electric Light Orchestra (Sony, 2003)
“I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor/Don’t bring me down.”
Without Jeff Lynne and his penchant for the acronym, we might not have N.W.A., EPMD, KRS-One, U.T.F.O., N*E*R*D, Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E., Junior M.A.F.I.A., or…ELO.