Arts Desk

Clip Job: Five Genre-Identifying Band Names


Channeling late '70s bands like the Jam and the Beat, D.C.'s Modest Proposal was a fixture of the city's early-'80s mod and ska scenes, and the group performed for several years before disbanding in 1986. The few songs it committed to vinyl, on several singles and compilations, are charming, catchy examples of a movement that—with its a blend of punk and the R&B-inflected rock of Small Faces and the Who—never quite took hold but inspired countless later bands. OK, so Modest Proposal's name didn't quite amount to a Swiftian act of wit, but at least it's slightly less obvious than the Mods. Modest Proposal—led by WTOP reporter Neal Augenstein—performs tomorrow at Comet Ping Pong with another reunited mod act, the Reply. The show is sold out.

More genre-identifying band names after the jump, including classic ska, acid-caked funk, and syrupy power-pop!

The Skatalites: You'd think the two-tone motifs and ratchety guitars would be adequate signifiers, but apparently ska bands really feel the need to self-identify—think names like Mephiskapheles, Bim Skala Bim, and Skankin' Pickle. There's really no reason to single out the Skatalites, other than that the band was one of Jamaica's most popular ska bands of the 1960s, and that it's been making music, in various incarnations, ever since.

Funkadelic: To be fair, there's also no shortage of funk bands with "funk" in their names (counterexample: MOR rockers Grand Funk Railroad). None are better than Funkadelic, the acid-caked sister group of George Clinton's more single-friendly Parliament. The "-delic" was as important as the "funk": The songs on the group's best album, Maggot Brain, are druggy, genre-bending portraits of a dystopia where misery's no excuse not to party. Plus: If your favorite blogs pointed you to the buzzy New York duo Sleigh Bells recently, you should know that the guitar sample in "Ring Ring" is from Funkadelic's "Can You Get to That."

Rockpile: Nick Lowe made a career out of smart guitar-pop that often satirized the recording industry, so you have to take the somewhat grating name of his Rockpile project—which often did backing-band duties for Lowe's solo work—with a grain of salt. Rockpile, despite its knack for writing hummable power-pop hooks, wasn't trying to rock too hard. Take this song, driven by a nondescript classic-rock riff but built around the lyric, "If sugar was as sweet as you, honey/sugar just couldn't be bought":

Metallica: Well, obviously. But the use of Ennio Morricone's "Ecstasy of Gold" in this performance in Russia is so metal:

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  • Ross

    First of all, why did I not hear about this MP/Reply gig?!?!? That would be some serious nostalgia action for me...

    Second of all, I'm not sure that using "Ecstasy of Gold" as an into is "so" metal. It's merely a mark of good taste. The Clash used it for one of their tours as well -- they were well-known Sergio Leone fans.

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