Sunday, June 12, 2016

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June 4, 2016

If all goes well, I plan to migrate this blog to my own site,, so today I'm publishing the same post in both places to see whether there's any reason not to move it. This shouldn't involve a learning curve for anyone but me. It'll still be all band names all the time.

Arbor Labor Union
It's an awkward mouthful, and I respect that, as well the right of the workers who keep our trees healthy to organize.

The Briefs
Undergarments and the lack thereof! Because of my weekly close reading of the club listings, I'm always imagining dream gigs based solely on names that belong together. These two did the work for me by appearing at the top and bottom (really!) of a show last night with Square Pig faves Dead Bars (who will soon release an album titled Dream Gig). You can't make this stuff up.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
Two fields of endeavor where close counts.

Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
I'm a sucker for a name that's maybe just a little too long. I also appreciate the hybrid noir/sci fi vibe.

Shameless self promotion! My debut novel, The Gospel According to St. Rage, will be released in paperback and ebook by Pankhearst on July 14, 2016. Preorder the ebook now:

Meet Barbara Bernsen, Former Invisible Girl. 

Barbara isn’t your typical high school junior. She’s been invisible since the third grade. But when a magic hat brings her back into the light, Barbara is ready to take on the world. First priority? Start an all-girl garage band. Miraculous super powers were never in her plan, but sometimes you get what you need. Bullies and school shooters don’t stand a chance. 

Yes, we all love Wonder Woman, Black Widow, and Jessica Jones, but Barbara is the hero her high school deserves. 

Truth. Justice. Rock & Roll.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

May 28, 2016

Seems like we had our May in April and now we're having Junuary just in time for Folklife. On the bright side, less chance of sunburn but you might not want to sit in the grass. These fine names come to us from indoor shows:

Anti-Nowhere League
We're gonna organize against that place that isn't.
We need more negatives in our name.
No, we don't.

Calliope Musicals
What the world needs is more steam powered instruments!

Pineapple Pig Storm
That crazy dream after the luau . . .
(Also, all those p's are just so fun to say.)

Told Slant
Where was this one when I did the literary theme a couple of weeks ago? Never mind, here they are now, having taken Emily Dickinson's advice re: truthtelling.

Vial 8 
Some of my favorite band names look like one thing and sound like another. I had to comb through the listings several times before I finally read this one and heard what was going on. I'm particularly pleased that they went with "tiny bottle" rather than "loathsome." It looks innocent but suggests trespass while hinting at poison. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

May 21, 2016

After 3 weeks in exile, I'm back at my own desk! I also have a cold, so I don't want to leave the house ever again, even though there are any number of great shows to see tonight. Due to impeccable bad timing, we have tickets to the opera, so we're doing that. If you're not doing that, here are some good names to choose from this week:

Booze & Glory
This seems like a more realistic aspiration for a band than fortune and glory. Playing for beer money.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre
This one falls into a perennial favorite category, the one that makes a rapid turn from one thing to another, causing you to spew whatever you're drinking out your nose.

Floating on his back among the stars, eating space urchins off his chest.

I grew up in a house with an actual woodshed: we stored stovewood and garden tools out there, and it also had a workbench for fixing things. Although we were a musical family, I don't think anyone ever went out there to practice an instrument, but my older brother (age 5 when we moved into that house) had heard enough about woodsheds to worry that he'd get more spankings. Fortunately, it wasn't that sort of woodshed, either.

Zombie Jihad
Can the unholy undead engage in holy war? 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

May 14, 2016

I'm in the late stages of preparing a book for publication, so it seems appropriate to go with a (mostly) literary theme this week, bookended by Shakespeare and Dickens. Thanks to the bands for cooperating and making it possible!

Casca's Dagger
One character's prop suggests the whole tragedy.

Fragile Lung
This is the exception to the theme, unless medical texts count as literature. There's a nice irony here in that their music is all about masterful singing, which relies on strong lungs.

In the Whale 
Where Ahab's leg resides.

Mandroid Echostar
Now we enter the realm of pulp sci-fi. I imagine this character was Buzz Lightyear's delinquent roommate at the Space Ranger Academy who dropped out and became a smuggler or spaceman of fortune.

Marley's Ghost 
Back to the classics for the other bookend, identical in structure to Casca's Dagger but referring to a character rather than a prop -- the first of four spirits intent on Scrooge's redemption. If it were up to me, Marley would get promoted to Heaven for this act.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

May 7, 2016

I'm writing from a remote undisclosed location this week, but thanks to the magic of the internet, you can't even tell! We don't seem to be convenient to anything here so we don't plan on partaking of nightlife. Don't let that stop you! There are loads of creatively named bands out there, including these five:

Fire Retarded
This is a rare appropriate use of the word "retarded." Safety first!

Hollow Sidewalks
There's a whole underground city down there! (In Seattle, this is literally true.)

The other most important meal of the day. I want to see them on a bill with Pouch and Porch.

Pastel Motel
This one has a fun rhyme, and an odd nostalgic appeal for me. When I was around 9 years old, I read a funny middle-grade novel called The Pink Motel by Carol Ryrie Brink, about resourceful children playing detective around a rundown motel in Florida. It stuck with me even though I read it only once and didn't encounter it again for over 20 years, when I found a copy at a church rummage sale. I bought it and still have it, another 20+ years down the road. I still haven't stayed in a pastel motel myself, but I hope to someday.

Valley Maker 
Hint: it's water, in liquid or solid form.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 30, 2016

Well, we've sent the cats off to camp and are about to go into exile ourselves for the duration of a much-needed bathroom repair/remodel. For the flooring, we've settled on vinyl:

Thanks to the miracle of the internet, the Square Pig will continue to post from an undisclosed location.

This was one of those weeks where it seemed I'd already written about all the appealing names, but a second pass revealed these gems:

Aeon Fux
I love it when sci-fi meets arcane compositional theory. I imagine this is the cool assassin little sister of Johann Joseph Fux. (This one jumped out at me because for years my brother has been working on an effectively eternal musical project called "Gradus for Fux, Tesla and Milo the Wrestler." In theory, it will go on for eons.)

Last Good Tooth
One of those basic things you don't miss till it's gone.

Moon Darling
Could be the name of an eccentric character in a quirky novel. Could be an affectionate response to the question, "What's that bright thing in the sky?" Or someone just really loves the moon.

Museum Mouth
I often complain that museums make my eyes hurt. I never thought about what they do to my mouth.

Redwing Blackbirds 
The rare example of a bird I can identify both by appearance and call. I include this one for my husband, who once wrote a poem that included the line "redwing blackbird on a bare tree top."

Saturday, April 23, 2016

April 23, 2016

I'm going to toot my own horn a little bit! I've spent the last year or two (with help and encouragement from the good people at Pankhearst) turning a band name into a novel. We're on schedule for a June release. The text is in final proofreading now, and we have a likely cover!

To celebrate, St. Rage released a new song:

But enough with the fictional band! There are plenty of real ones to talk about this week, with these five at the top of the heap:

Blame the Wizards
Maybe that's the explanation for the awfulness so far this year: a wizard did a spell, taking Prince and Bowie, but leaving Trump and Cruz. Damn wizards.

Invisible Hand
Why, exactly, do we want what sounds like a creepy phantom running our markets? How is that a good idea? Great name for a band, though.

Sermons on a Moonless Night
We are gathered here to get through this thing called life.

Sick Sad World
See above, re: those damn wizards. (This one reminds me of a recently published post-electoral dystopian blues, Ted Cruz Smiles and a Baby Dies, in which I have a story about the coming revolution.)

U. S. Bastards 
It's like a theme or something. I like how you can pronounce the initials as "us" or "U. S." and it makes sense either way.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

April 16, 2016

On this day in 1980, I went to my first rock concert: the Who at Seattle Center Coliseum (now known as Key Arena). I still have the shirt.

Now I'm more into small, local shows by bands with names every bit as odd and creative as the Who, if not more so. Here's this week's batch:

Collapsible Rodeo
Broncs and bulls sold separately.

Leeches of Lore
This sounds like a healing item carried by a cleric in a tabletop role-playing game. I like the alliteration, and the grossness of leeches paired with the solemnity of lore.

Moose Light Kingdom
I doubt I have ever passed up a band name with "moose" in it. In this case, I imagine the Man in the Moon has been replaced by Bullwinkle.

Nonchalant Avalanche
Slides down the mountain without a care in the world, elegant in n and ch sounds.

Zen Mother
Leads the most enlightened scouts.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

April 9, 2016

I like when April gives us a foretaste of May, though Thursday's foretaste of July was a bit much. But I won't complain because I know it's only a matter of time before we have a flashback to March. Today was the day for yardwork, but now it's band-name time.

Assistant Chief Seattle
Full disclosure: I've met this group's instigators. I like the overlap of a secondary official with our local eponymous figure.

The Bloodtypes
I just got back from donating blood, so of course I'm picking this one. (I'm A pos., if anyone wants to know.) The word blood features in many metal band names, but this usage is more medical/scientific than horror/ritual, pointing to saving a life rather than taking one. Fun fact: they were on a bill with three past Square Pig honorees: Bottlenose Koffins, Boss Martians, and Tan Sedan.

Sit Kitty Sit
Like that'll get you anywhere. Cats take orders from no one. (Cat sits. Gives a look that says, "I was going to do that, anyway. Nothing to do with you.")

Star Meets Sea
And then along comes this one, the prettiest thing I've seen in the club listings in ages.

Thought Vomit 
Some ideas are better out than in; usually best not to share them with people. But if you're lucky, you'll have someone to hold your hair and help you clean up afterward.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

April 2, 2016

The following band names were taken from a listing published on April Fool's Day, so I suppose there is a slight chance some or all of them are fake, because with band names, how would you know? I'm assuming they're all real.

Civil Discourse
What we could use more of in this horrible trainwreck of an election year.

Don't Move!
An ironic admonition from a jazz band.

Change one vowel to transform a generic greeting into something like a straw man, only smaller and more nutritious.

High on Fire
Two idiomatic usages of the preposition on overlap to create an exhilarating but hazardous trip.

Phantoms of Soul
Implying incorporeal essences have their own incorporeal essences.  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

March 26, 2016

It's too nice a day to sit inside blogging, so I'll make this quick. Here's what's in my basket this Easter weekend:

Crayons evoke childhood innocence, but what's happening to them here seems more adult -- intentional creative violence. A broken crayon is frustrating. But crush them up and remelt them, and you have something new, colorful, unpredictable.

The Deadrones
Simply sharing the middle D makes this stand out as something special. It also sounds like what it is: D is a thuddy consonant that just stops -- a dead sound -- but the long O lets the second syllable draw out, dronelike.

Front Country
You don't need a special permit, you'll probably meet other people, and the facilities have plumbing.

Down at the cellular level, this is where matter gets converted to energy -- the life force -- so I love the irony that this is a death metal band. I'm also a fan of nerdy science allusions.

My Brothers and I
There's nothing quite like a family band, said someone who makes music with her brother.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

March 19, 2016

Too many band names! What a happy problem to have, though it's hard to choose who gets cut. With luck, they will show up again soon. These five made it through the rigorous selection process:

The Dead Tongues 
Ancient languages or Novocaine? I lean toward the latter because in my novel The Gospel According to St. Rage (coming in June 2016), the protagonist considers and discards many band names before settling on St. Rage. One of the rejects, arrived at while she's high on laughing gas and numb from oral surgery, is Dead Tongue. I'm glad someone else is using it.

Fast Nasties
This one has a no-nonsense rhyme and snappy sibilance that perfectly suits their brisk soulful stylings.
One Step from Everywhere
I imagine a teleportation node that solves all our commuting woes.

It's a complete sentence run together without punctuation, which allows multiple interpretations: a demand for permission to take off, mild surprise at the discovery of a new superpower, or the name of a supremely confident insect.

Sleeping Planet
Here's an idea for our climate problems: just leave Mother Earth alone for a while so she can have a nice nap.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

March 12, 2016

If like me you're going to be out late tonight and have to do things tomorrow, and your alarm clock isn't connected to the internet, then I have bad news: this is that awful night when we lose an hour of sleep. Remember to "spring ahead," or resign yourself to showing up late, whichever. Band names like these relieve the sting of this lame form of time travel:

Always Only Sometimes
An absolute with an immediate qualifier.

Last to See the Sun
I like how this could be a reference to end times, or to space travel, or to the last holdout when the sun sets on an early-season backyard barbecue.

Psyclon Nine
A real mindstorm! I have an abiding fondness for homophones that look nothing alike and evoke a poetic hybrid meaning.

The Forgotten 45s
Reminds me of a true story: I work upstairs from a non-profit preschool. Several years ago, a used record store donated a box of random 45s to be used as decorations for their fundraising auction, which had a '50s sock-hop theme that year. Late last year, the preschool director got tired of tripping over them in her office and asked if I wanted them. I took a chance and brought them home. They were dirty and scratched and we weren't sure they'd even play, but my spouse has been methodically cleaning them up and converting them to digital. So far, only one or two have completely failed. A few are nothing special, but many are lost treasures, forgotten no more. 

The Sweeplings 
I love saying this word, and how the addition of that L transforms debris in the a dustpan into adorable sentient beings.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

March 5, 2016

Can anything compare to that feeling when you've been sick but now you're not? Wow, I can do things again! Maybe I'll finally be able to record that vocal track. Meanwhile, the band names continue to do most of the work for me here:

American Wrecking Company
AKA party politics as usual. When the revolution comes, they will have brought it on themselves.

Chase N Skwerells
Not only is this a great cartoon character name, but I can't help thinking this is how dogs would spell it, if dogs could spell.

Compass & Knife
What we should all know how to use if we're to survive the coming dystopia and find our way home.

Ted Cruz and the Trumps
Points for topicality joined to classic X and the Y structure. I would love to wake up and have this be the only reason we know these names; the rest was only a dream.

The Rainy Day Splish Splosh Band
The localest flavor, with tasty onomatopoeia. This one cheered me up and made my week.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

February 27, 2016

There's a horrible cold going around. Don't catch it. I can usually fight these things off, but this one knocked me flat. I'll have to let the band names do the heavy lifting in the cleverness department. Lucky for all of us, this batch is up to the challenge.

Cure for the Common
I'm pretty sure I would have picked this even if I wasn't down with a cold. Always great to find something to lift you out of the mundane.

Darkness Stole the Sky

Long Dark Moon
Mythopoetic explanations for lunar phases, winter, night.

Too Close to Touch
Blows the mind. I think quantum physics must be involved.

Yak Attack
Fun rhyme of the week! I feel a lot better now.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

February 20, 2016

Rather than give anything up for Lent, I decided to do something active and submit work to my friends' various literary projects. One poem, one flash fiction, and two short stories down; at least two more poems to go. Feels like a good discipline before starting another novel. Meanwhile, this blog is another good discipline: every week I get to think about band names and why I love them.

Coeur de Pirate
For reasons unknown, the mascot of my inland high-desert high school was the Pirates. It doesn't make sense, but some part of me will always be a pirate at heart. This also makes me think of a friend who is writing a book of pirate poems and had a pirate-themed wedding last Halloween. Now there's someone with the heart of a pirate! This one's for Kate.

Foot-stompin' music is good for that other kind of soul.

Nothing Sounds Good
I like the multiple meanings: 1) there is no good sound; 2) even absence is music; 3) everything on the menu is what I don't want; 4) I prefer the void. And probably a few more besides.

Phono Paradiso
Could be the flip side of Nothing Sounds Good, where all sounds are blessed. A sound garden, as it were. Hmmm.

Sewer Troll 
Urban trolls have it figured out. They never have to risk coming out in daylight. They can lurk in the sewers and only appear on the Internet.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

February 13, 2016

Having taken on a bunch of debt to fix up our house, we are economizing by having Valentine's Day at home this year. But I encourage everyone who is not economizing -- single, coupled, or something else -- to share the love with your favorite local musicians this weekend and beyond. I offer a Valentine to these five:

The Lochness Mobsters
Love it when you change one letter and get a whole new image that still sort of makes sense. Grainy photograph of a guy in a fedora with a Tommy gun rising out of the water.

The Machine That Took My Family
I'm a big fan of band names with a few too many words. This one has tragic sci-fi implications.

Puget Noise
It's almost too easy! This is who we are. As a musician, it has always made me happy that our local arm of the sea is called a sound. I also find it amusing that a region known for polite (or is that passive/aggressive) introverts is also famous for jets, rock music, and football fans who register on the Richter scale. (A Google search for this band name also turned up my alma mater, the University of Puget Sound. They are both in Tacoma. Coincidence?)

Speaker of the House
Many years ago, my brother blew out a stereo speaker and turned it into a feedback machine. It was dubbed the Speaker of the House and became a beloved part of the free-improv group Banned Rehearsal (because some people can't resist a pun). I'm glad someone else saw the musical potential in this title.

Truth Decay
So appropriate in an election year. Is there something we can brush and floss to prevent this?

(In case anyone is interested, last weekend's Write Here, Write Now workshop was extremely productive. The stalled novel project is officially unstalled.)

Friday, February 5, 2016

February 5, 2016

Blogging usually happens on Saturday, but I'm getting my post done early because tomorrow I will be away from the Internet! I'll be attending Seattle 7 Writers' "Write Here, Write Now" conference, hobnobbing with my fellow wizards and hoping to get some good ideas to jump-start a stalled novel project. The good news this week is that a decidedly unstalled novel project, The Gospel According to St. Rage, will release in June 2016, thanks to the good people at Pankhearst. This garage rock fairy tale grew out of the short story "St. Rage", which was the January 2015 release from the Pankhearst Singles Club. The novel is full of fictional band names, some of them nearly as good as these real ones:

The Bird and the Bee
A reminder to parents that when you have The Talk with your kids, you can generalize many things but in the end, every intimate relationship is as individual as the participants, (with apologies to Tolstoy) happy or unhappy in its own way.

March to May
I like how this can be a simple 3-month time period, or a determined trek from the dregs of winter to the warm heart of spring.

Sound of Ceres
Live from the Asteroid Belt!

Test Apes
Experimental simians to the eye, trial cassettes to the ear.

Trust Me I'm Scared 
An ironic reassurance but oddly appropriate in an election year.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 30, 2016

Although I don't go out often (too old, too tired, too busy, too employed), I love living in a place where it's theoretically possible to leave the house and find an interesting music event any night of the week. Here are just a few of this week's participants:

80 Proof Logic
You probably don't want to send that text.

the dead see squirrels
This one makes me absurdly happy. Read aloud, it's a goofy pun that reveals a previously unrecognized similarity of "scrolls" and "squirrels." Seen in print, it's a startling but harmless sentence about the view from the afterlife.

Grey Waves
On maps, the ocean is blue. I remember being disappointed the first time I discovered this wasn't true, at least at our latitude. Now I celebrate our cold, gray, merciless sea; not for the casual tourist.

Project Wonder Bread
Perhaps restoring some of the wonder to the epitome of soft and bland.

Waking Things
I love when two simple words can go in so many directions. Is this a description of the things when their alarm goes off, an action performed by them, or perhaps upon them? And should we be glad or chilled that they're waking?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 23, 2016

Three musical practices at our house I'm thankful we instituted:
1. Record every show I play in;
2. Collect at least one recording of every band we hear live;
3. Put our entire collection (including the live stuff) on a hard drive and play it on shuffle.
This means that on top of the stuff everyone our age has, we have a large and diverse mix of mostly recent, mostly local sounds that we can't always identify without looking. "What a great song! Who is that?" It is not yet any of these, but that doesn't mean it won't be:

California Redemption Value
Shines a spotlight on mundane commercial or legal language and transforms the meaning. Does California have value, and can it be redeemed?

Death Muffins
The perfect balance of inevitability and comfort; or, an endearment for your goth sweetheart.

Now we know what to call it when you find your yard has been invaded by lawn flamingos.

Kaos n Kunfusion
There are never enough K words, so I approve these chaotic and confused spellings. This also gets my vote for the title for the next installment of Get Smart, the great spy comedy of my childhood, in which the nemesis organization was KAOS.

Never Shout Never 
An idiomatic expression with the volume turned up!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 16, 2016

Imagine a world where banks and insurance companies could have as much fun with their names as pot stores and game studios. Until that day, we'll always have rock bands such as these:

Anti You
It's personal.

The Janitors of Chaos
Glad to know somebody's on the job; I hope they get overtime.

Either some serious sentry duty or a very unusual tourist activity. Googling this name also turns up lots of places to buy oversized timepieces.

Tales from the Birdbath
It may seem trivial, but if you pay any attention to birds, you know they're full of drama and trash talk.

Weapons of Minor Disruption
Not destructive, merely spiteful. A bomb that knocks out the cable for an hour just as the game gets exciting, or makes the guitar amp buzz during an intricate solo.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

January 9, 2016

Mid-blog, some program decided it needed to restart my computer. I didn't lose much, but I think I'll cut things short just to be safe. On with the list:

Haunted Summer
Unexpected and poetic. It takes quite a spook to haunt anything as bright and shiny as summer.

The Pro & the Con
So many meanings in so few letters/syllables! I'm also happy when I get to promote a guitar-drums duo, since that's where I live.

Prom Queen
In a rare occurrence, I heard this band before picking them for the blog. The name perfectly fits what the group is about: they have a wonderful retro look to go with their vintage sound and instruments. If you like to slow-dance in the living room, this is what you need.

Secret Cat
I'm picturing a cat going undercover in a dog household to steal the plans for a canine takeover of the world, blowing that plot wide open and then taking a nap. (And hey, they're on a bill with Square Pig faves Power Skeleton!)

Tan Sedan 
The least flashy conveyance out there. Belongs in the same category as Car Seat Headrest for celebration of mundanity and evocation of '70s cars.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

January 2, 2016

Happy 2016! As long as bands keep coming up with creative names, I will be here every week to blather about them. For example:

Clarke & the Himselfs
Takes the classic X and the Y structure and makes it as awkward as possible while still being perfect for a one-man band.

The Cosmic Shuffle
Perfect start to the new year: once more around the sun!

Perhaps the most hardcore name to be inspired by an automotive tool. Or else it's that Bloodworks donor who's done in 5 minutes.

Some Other Guys
I celebrate the ordinary non-specificity going on here. This one very nearly eluded my internet search, the downside of such a supremely generic name.

In this winter of a new Star Wars movie, this old Star Wars nerd salutes the furry guy. Let the Wooky win.