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Stylus Counsel | Area Resident’s Records

Track 19 | The Name Game.

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One of my partner’s cool stories about her time as a blogger involves when she was asked to do a movie review of Twilight and she deliberately — jokingly — reviewed the 1998 Gene Hackman film instead and couldn’t understand why emo teens loved it so much.

A friend of mine, while working as an entertainment writer in Whistler, did an advance piece about David Wilcox coming to town — except she talked about the American folkie, not the Canadian blues legend who was actually booked. Unfortunately, that wasn’t on purpose.

I nearly made a similar mistake when adding to my record collection recently. Having become a fan of the Australian psychedelic pop/rock/indie band Pond via a well-placed song in the Spotify “radio” of some other artist or song I liked, I decided I needed to get some of their stuff on vinyl. I went down to one of my favourite independent record shops and it turns out one of my dudes there is a fan and ordered me their new album 9 when it came out. When it arrived, I got very into it and went looking for more online, and bought two more: The Weather and Man It Feels Like Space Again. Both are excellent. I even managed to buy a Tame Impala record off a pal of mine, because both bands are from Perth, and some members are in both bands. Love that, too.

So, I went hunting for more Pond online and found a 1993 release on the Sub Pop label. I nearly bought it when it suddenly occurred to me — wait, these guys have been around 30 years? I didn’t realize Sub Pop had artists from that far afield. They don’t. Different Pond. The album I nearly bought was the debut self-titled LP by the Portland, Ore., alt/garage band. I listened to them, though — pretty good if you like that stuff. A little Mudhoneyish. Very ’90s but not too shiny.

Bands with the same or similar names are incredibly plentiful. I have two in my own collection — an album called Black Monk Time by the legendary German garage proto-punk ’60s band The Monks. I also have the spoofy 1979 album Bad Habits by the U.K. band The Monks. One is very authentic and the other is not. The U.K. Monks were formed by three members of The Strawbs. They were derided in Britain where punk was not to be made light of, but had a hit in Canada with Drugs In My Pocket. The German Monks were a group of five American soldiers stationed there who basically made the first punk record. It is loaded with incredible songs like Drunken Maria, I Hate You, and Shut Up.

As I mentioned, multiple bands with the same name are quite common. Anyone who has ever had a band of their own knows this. Sometimes, bands will slightly alter or completely change the name if it eventually becomes a problem. In my own collection I have an album by The Charlatans, who were forced to add “UK” to the end of their name when touring on this continent due to another American band with the same name. Same goes for The Mission and The Mission UK. I also have an album by The Beat, except my copy is by The English Beat, as they were known here. Just like The Charlatans, so as not to be confused with the same-named U.S. band.

I don’t own any Raconteurs albums, but I know they’re known as the Saboteurs in Australia. As the story goes, David Bowie changed his name from David Jones due to the popularity of The Monkees. Indie legends Dinosaur Jr. (Can’t wait for the new documentary!) were initially known as Dinosaur, but after their second album You’re Living All Over Me, they had to change it because of a lawsuit launched by The Dinosaurs — a supergroup made up of members of Big Brother & the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Hot Tuna, The Grateful Dead, Country Joe & The Fish and Jefferson Airplane. And Canadian electronic musician Dan Snaith opted to change his pseudonym from Manitoba to Caribou after being threatened with a lawsuit by Dictators singer Handsome Dick Manitoba.

The British pop duo Yazoo are known as Yaz in North America. But, not to be confused with American rapper/actor Yazz, or the English pop singer Yazz. I’m sure some teens have had birthday gifts from well-intentioned parents or grandparents go wrong in this way. Maybe getting a record by The Guess Who instead of The Who, or an autograph from the lead singer of Erasure instead of the bass player of Oasis. There are even bands with names shared by four or more acts: Burial, Pure, Ocean, Brainstorm (5!), Ghost, Clouds (6!), Legend and Virus.

Needless to say, if you’re an act or in a band that’s trying to make a go of it — pick a name that’s not already in use. Especially if you intend to trademark it, or even just put music on an online streaming service.

There is, obviously, a band called The Residents — and multiple ones called Area — but I’m the only Area Resident out there, or at least the only one making music. There are plenty of others embroiled in community newspaper headlines. Enjoy this namesake playlist!

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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check out him out on Discogs.