Bands named after animals or with animal-themed names are nothing short of fascinating. With monikers that run all manner of creatures big and small, cute and ferocious, and fictional and real, they provide a talking point and serve as gateways to the bands’ music. Ask any indie music fan and chances are they’ll rattle off a list of acts that includes Grizzly Bear, Cat Power, Foals, Phoenix, Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse, Noah and the Whale, The Bird and The Bee, Tame Impala and of course, Animal Collective. And let’s not forget Arctic Monkeys, Panda Bear, Tortoise, Wolf Parade, Dinosaur Jr, Giraffes? Giraffes! and Band of Horses; the list goes on. We shine the spotlight on five bands inspired by the animal kingdom.
Origin: San Diego, California, USA
How they got their name: According to co-frontman Brandon Welchez, their first choice Crocodile Tears was taken so they settled for Crocodiles which sounded “like some sort of dark doo wop band from the fifties.”
Formed in 2008 by Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell after the break-up of their respective punk bands Some Girls and The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, they caught the attention of critics after their single ‘Neon Jesus’ was included in a best of 2008 list by Los Angeles noise rockers No Age. They signed to Fat Possum Records and released their debut album Summer of Hate in 2009, followed by their sophomore album Sleep Forever in 2010. Their raw, fuzzed out guitar-driven songs cloaked in noise and feedback have earned them comparisons to The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Velvet Underground. Like their name, Crocodiles showed they have bite and aren’t afraid to voice their opinions. In September 2010 they released an instrumental titled ‘Kill Joe Arpaio’, about the controversial anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff. Originally a duo, they’ve since expanded to include a drummer, bassist and keyboard player. They recently released their fourth album Crimes of Passion, which was produced by Sune Rose Wagner of former tour mates The Raveonettes, another band they’ve been likened to.
Check out: ‘Neon Jesus’, ‘I Wanna Kill’, ‘Mirrors’
Black Moth Super Rainbow
Origin: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
How they got their name: Ringleader Tom Fec was trying to come up with names for a cereal and decided to use that as the band name.
With a name like that, how could you not love them? Formed in 2003 out of the ashes of an earlier incarnation called Satanstompingcaterpillars, this experimental five piece meld psychedelia, synthpop, electronica, dance and folk to create a bold, distinct sound that is arguably their own. Their off-kilter melodies and unconventional musical arrangements draw you like a moth to a flame, pun intended. With a penchant for wonderfully weird song titles and trippy, sometimes violent videos, listening to Black Moth Super Rainbow feels like floating blissfully in space without a care in the world. The band maintains an aura of mystery around them with all five members going by the pseudonyms Tobacco, The Seven Fields of Aphelion, Iffernaut, Ryan Graveface and Pony Diver. Wrap your mind around that. They’ve released five albums so far, with their latest Cobra Juicy dropping in 2012.
Check out: ‘Born On A Day The Sun Didn’t Rise’, ‘Twin of Myself’, ‘Jump into My Mouth and Breathe the Stardust’
The Field Mice
Origin: Mitcham, London, England
How they got their name: Unfortunately, an extensive search turned up nothing. Guess we’ll have to contend with being kept in the dark.
One of the most beloved bands amongst the stable of indie and twee bands on the revered UK record label Sarah Records, The Field Mice were known for their melancholic pop and bittersweet, sensitive lyrics that dealt with lost loves, heartbreak and decaying friendships. Between 1989 and 1991 they put out three well-regarded albums: their debut mini-album Snowball, sophomore record Skywriting and final album For Keeps. They were often accused of having a generic Sarah Records sound despite incorporating different styles and dance, electronic and synth elements in their recordings. Though they were only together for three years, their numerous singles and impressive body of work cemented their status as one of the pioneer post-C86 bands and they enjoy a cult following to this day.
Check out: ‘Sensitive’, ‘If You Need Someone’, ‘Anyone Else Isn’t You’
Origin: Helsinki, Finland
How they got their name: The band took their name from frontman Marko Nyberg’s love of the majestic wolf-like dogs.
Husky Rescue are an electronica band hailing from Helsinki and comprise Johanna Kalén, Marko Nyberg and Antony Bentley. Formed in 2002, they have released four albums, with their fifth album The Long Lost Friend slated for release later this year. Warm, sweeping and marked by lush instrumentation, Husky Rescue’s evocative music bridges melancholy and darkness with an underlying sense of hope running through it, bringing to mind imaginary landscapes and worlds. Indeed, Marko has said Husky Rescue’s music is like “the first snow on the ground when you can still see the green grass through the snow. It’s like spring’s sunbeam after the long, dark, sunless winter time.” The cinematic nature of their music has led to their songs being used in commercials and television programmes like The Sopranos and One Tree Hill.
Check out: ‘Snowfall’, ‘Diamonds in the Sky’, ‘New Light of Tomorrow’
Origin: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
How they got their name: As yet unnamed at the time of their first show, Nick Thorburn came across a pamphlet on STDs and condoms with a visual representation of the mythical horse-like creature, and The Unicorns were born.
The Unicorns were a short-lived Canadian lo-fi rock trio made up of Nicholas Thorburn (Nick Diamonds), Alden Penner (Alden Ginger) and Jamie Thompson (J’aime Tambeur). Their music has a scrappy, ramshackle quality to it, from wacky song titles like “I Was Born (A Unicorn)” to the psychedelic touches they incorporated in some of their songs. They quickly gained rave reviews for their second album Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone. However months of constant touring took its toll on the band and they played their last show in Houston, Texas on December 21, 2004.
Check out: ‘I Was Born (A Unicorn)’, ‘Sea Ghost’, ‘Jellybones’