Editor's Choice

Band name drought

I was just wondering how it is that doom rock bands from Sweden can get away with giving themselves elegantly concise names like "Witchcraft" and "Graveyard," while bands in the U.S. feel obliged to come up with something (usually outlandish or unwieldy) that is not already taken on MySpace. And voilà, this WSJ piece comes down the pike about how difficult it supposedly is to name your band. It seems true that a cursory search will reveal that what you thought was a great, original idea was already thought up and acted upon by someone else. (I am still sad that both Black Horse Pike and White Horse Pike have MySpace pages.) It's enough to make you pine for the legendary days of local garage-band scenes, where every township could have its own group called the Outsiders.

But really, this is not that huge of a problem. The Awl does a good job saying what needs to be said about the piece.

I mean, how hard is it to come up with a unique band name? Armed with only Google, a rhyming dictionary, and an urgency to get a post done, I challenged myself to come up with ten new group monikers for which there were no registered alternatives. It took three minutes.

The list he comes up with is worth clicking through to check out.

All that said, the matter of a band name isn't something insignificant. It's arguably as important as the music itself. There are lots and lots of bands, and if some can be ruled out by virtue of having terrible names, then they will be. Rare are the bands that are better than their names: Spoon is the only one I can think of off the top of my head right now. But legion are the bands with bad names that stink.

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Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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Music

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Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

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There are few series that have earned such universal acclaim as Friday Night Lights (2006-2011). This show unreservedly deserves the praise -- and the well-earned Emmy. Ostensibly about a high school football team in Dillon, Texas—headed by a brand new coach—the series is more about community than sports. Though there's certainly plenty of football-related storylines, the heart of the show is the Taylor family, their personal relationships, and the relationships of those around them.

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Mixing some bland "alternate" and "film" versions of Whitney Houston's six songs included on The Bodyguard with exemplary live cuts, this latest posthumous collection for the singer focuses on pleasing hardcore fans and virtually no one else.

No matter how much it gets talked about, dissected, dismissed, or lionized, it's still damn near impossible to oversell the impact of Whitney Houston's rendition of "I Will Always Love You".

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