#25: Crypts of sentient slime
Angry at Numbers; Terminal Vagina; Ghosts of the Sun; Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers; Malignant Altar
There’s now a Band Name Bureau playlist! More info below.
More like angry at Kids These Days: “Eschewing trendy neo-folk or synth-based music,” says their bio, “Angry at Numbers emphasizes aggressive guitars and pyrotechnic drumming.” It also notes the Minneapolis trio plays its “own blend of alternative rock.” So, these dudes are old. No one calls their music “alternative rock” and shades trends of yesteryear—neo-folk and synths? Take that, Mssrs. Banhart and Flowers!—unless they were old enough to a) watch Beavis and Butt-head when it originally aired, and b) name their band after a line from the show. Also, only old guys would have a bitchin’ logo like this:
Should Angry at Numbers need any merch ideas, Google has some suggestions:
When you do a band-name newsletter, all your friends are de facto correspondents. My pal Jason texted me this photo while visiting British Columbia, saying, “It’s nice, having a place to send these things.”
Terminal Vagina is obviously the standout on that bill, but googling “terminal vagina” results in a bunch of alarming stories about vaginal cancer. Searching “terminal vagina band” is a little better, though the No. 1 result is about vaginal band adhesion. (“Symptoms of a vaginal band adhesion can be dyspareunia or the inability to use the vagina for installing foreign objects.” Again, alarming.)
Down the list a bit is a Bandcamp for Terminal Vagina—bio: “Heterophobic and High”—with one song, “Dommy Mommy.” Farther down the results is a dark, muddy YouTube video for the band performing “Fuck Cops, Do Drugs” (classic) and “Elliot Broke His Dick” (ditto) in front of a TERMINAL VAGINA banner (ditto ditto). (“Broke his dick! Broke his dick! / Elliot broke his dick!” It’s about their drummer.) Their channel has two other videos, including another live performance for “Vyvanse Dance” shot vertically but rendered sideways because YouTube doesn’t fuck with vertical video. Term Vag won’t be forced into 16:9, oppressors!
Some band names are what I call deep vagues. They aim for the poetic but land on highfalutin, because they don’t really mean anything. On their own, the words “ghosts” and “sun” carry a fair amount of symbolic weight, but “Ghosts of the Sun” comes off like some dudes trying to sound deep. From what I can tell, it’s not an allusion or reference—unless this Eau Claire, Wisconsin, quartet loves jazz saxophonist Bill McHenry, whose 2011 album was called Ghosts of the Sun. Considering the band plays “progressive instrumental” music (i.e., metallic prog rock), I wouldn’t be surprised if they were jazzbos. Maybe I’ll start my own prog-instrumental band and name it after McHenry’s 2010 album, Chill Morn He Climb Jenny.
“Unfortunately the story behind the name isn’t nearly as exciting as people expect.” That may as well be the motto of Band Name Bureau, considering how often bands say some version of it. This time around, it comes from an unnamed member of Australian indie rock band Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers, who proves her point by explaining how a friend of their guitarist’s dad came up with it. The story of the band itself is sweet, as the quartet was inspired by the movie School of Rock when they were 10 years old.
Their music is hardly so sweet, as the upcoming Pretty Good for a Girl Band EP—out May 13 via Domestic La La—ruminates on sadly familiar themes like sexism and harassment. The song “Girl Sports” takes its name from a comment from a dentist, who told bassist Jaida Stephenson she should stick to “girl sports” after she knocked out her teeth skating. Guitarist/vocalist Anna Ryan says in the press release, “Despite the fact that we yell ‘fuck off’ a lot in ‘Girl Sports,’ it’s not that we hate every man ever. It’s shit that this stuff happens to us, but we know where we stand and won’t let it get to us.”
Nothing got to teenage Jesus, either. Or, wait, maybe everything did? I’m no bible expert.
The extreme-metal community has a specific way of talking about music. It goes beyond describing something as “heavy” or “crushing” or “face-melting” to the laboriously scatological. For instance, when Houston’s Malignant Altar released Realms of Exquisite Morbidity last year, its label described the album as “the most fetidly obscene album imaginable.” The vocals are “snarly puke” to “ensure only the most befitting disgust emanates into your speakers from the altar of putridity.” (Wait, emanates into?) There’s also something about incubating in “crypts of sentient slime” and the music being “slumbering spew.”
That’s restrained compared to a review of from angrymetalguy.com (“Trashing Popular Bands for Hits Since 2009”). It describes Malignant Altar as a “cesspool creamsicle” who “force-feed you all the medical waste and filth they can” and “gleefully cavort through the unspeakably foul gunk of some godforsaken cavern of inequity.” Realms of Exquisite Morbidity is “pleasing in a repellant and nauseating way” and “so revolting and slimy it grows on you like atomic herpes.” The “low-register grunting and retching” vocals are also, uh, “endearing.” (Is that bad then?)
It’s all deeply silly, but this kind of music tends to be utterly humorless. Realms of Exquisite Morbidity kicks off with a song called “Channeling Impure Apparitions,” for example, before segueing into “Usurping the Pantheon Crown.” Malignant Altar’s Instagram—itself is funny on a conceptual level—takes a lighter, human touch. But they still keep it real: Their new music, they say, is “our most vile yet.” Get ready to vomit feces with depraved avarice!
I created a Band Name Bureau playlist, because now seems like the best time to hop on the Spotify Train! (Hurry up and offer playlist functionality, Bandcamp. Geez.) It’s currently eight and a half hours long.
Their name aside, Ghosts of the Sun are pretty solid—like a more cinematic Russian Circles, if that makes any sense. Pretty sure it doesn’t. Malignant Altar is also solid, though I can never take much of that kinda thing in one sitting. I also liked Teen Jesus quite a bit.