Lists

8 Great Bands With Terrible Band Names

Cigarettes After Sex. And maybe smoke one before settling on this as your band name.
Cigarettes After Sex. And maybe smoke one before settling on this as your band name. Ebru Yildiz
A great band name can intrigue. It can evoke all sorts of emotions and fantasies that add to the power of a band's music. A great band name begs to be carved into the back of a high school student's spiral notebook with a Bic pen.

A bad band name, on the other hand, can keep people away. A bad band name can stink up a room faster than a corpse flower in bloom. And few things are more artistically unfortunate than when a great band saddles themselves with a lousy name.

Here are nine bands who make awesome, compelling music — even though their names sound like magnetic fridge poetry gone horribly wrong. Listen to 'em, love 'em, and get your "no, really, they're actually really good" speech ready so you can convert scoffing skeptics.

Cigarettes After Sex

Fronted by Greg Gonzalez, this Brooklyn-based band plays spare, ambient pop that recalls the sultry, druggy stylings of groups like Mazzy Star and Cowboy Junkies. Cigarettes After Sex can even bust out a mean REO Speedwagon cover, and it takes real chops to make people enjoy hearing an REO Speedwagon song. But that name ... sweet Jesus. When the group were bouncing ideas for names around, somebody must have said "We're like cigarettes after sex, man." And everyone was like, "Yo, that's it right there. Case closed."


click to enlarge Pity Sex: one thing you don't want to mention you're into on your dating profile. - JOEL RAKOWSKI
Pity Sex: one thing you don't want to mention you're into on your dating profile.
Joel Rakowski
Pity Sex

From 2011 through 2016, Pity Sex were one of the best shoegaze revival bands out there. On songs like "Burden You" and "Drawstring," they created a beguiling hybrid of emo and shoegaze: massive and dreamy guitars wound themselves around confessional lyrics. They were a band that was easy to love in every respect except for one: that name. Try telling someone that you're "really into Pity Sex" sometime and see what their reaction will be. It's the perfect band to list in your dating profile if you don't want anyone to swipe right.

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone: tone-deaf name, terrific band. - HANNAH PERSSON
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone: tone-deaf name, terrific band.
Hannah Persson
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

The name of Owen Ashworth's solo project was so painfully emo it left no room to wonder why he — or anyone listening to his band — was alone. It's a name that wallows in abject self-parody. Get past it, though, and you'll find a rich discography. Active until 2010, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone released a string of powerful and smart albums. Singing over synths, Ashworth's voice was somewhere in between David Berman and Leonard Cohen on the Gravelly Cool Singer scale. Ashworth now releases albums under the much less punchable handle Advance Base.

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