Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Parade of Wolves

This is the first installment of an occasional feature in which I try to clear up confusion between similar band names. There are a lot of bands out there, and if you haven't heard them - or have only heard them fleetingly, it's easy to get them mixed up.

The Screen Actors Guild has a rule that you have to change your name if it's the same as another actor's - hence Bill Macy became William H. Macy so as not to get confused with the sitcom husband on Maude. In the music world, this has led to formulations like the Charlatans UK, the English Beat and the London Suede.

But even without coincidences like that, a lot of artists end up with same-sounding monikers. Before I got to know them, I would mix up Elvin Bishop and Elton John, or U2, UB40 and UFO.

So a couple of posts down, I mentioned Wolfmother and Wolf Parade. But it's worse than I thought. Even if you don't count Los Lobos, there are a lot of "Wolf" bands out there:

Wolf Parade are a cool indie band from Canada, now on "indefinite hiatus." They have a great song that always sticks in my head, "Shine a Light," from their best album Apologies to the Queen Mary. They can generally be lumped in with Canadian Invasion bands like New Pornographers, Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene.

Wolfmother, (one word) on the other hand, are a harder-rocking crew from Australia. They list bands like the Doors and AC/DC as influences. They're currently at work on their third album.

Wolf Colonel is one of those auteur-driven bands that is basically the songwriter/leader (In this case Jason Anderson, who sometimes records under his own name as well, depending) and whoever is recruited for that album or tour. If you like Husker Du or Guided By Voices, you might want to check this guy out.

Wolf & Cub are another Australian outfit with a more psychedelic sound. They're signed to the 4AD label, so if you know about that general gestalt, you know where they fit into the firmament. They're not as well known as their fellow Aussies, so if you need a mnemonic device to tell them apart, think of the cubs and their mother.

The Wolf People are a more bluesy British band, with touches of folk and pschedelia in the mix. Their album Tidings was releasded last year.

The Wolfhounds (not to be confused with the Irish Wolfhounds, who are, as you might guess, Celtic-sounding) were a British indie band with affinities for Sonic Youth-style skronk. They broke up in 1990.

I'm sure there are plenty more, but I'm not going to get into the difference between Kate Wolf and Patrick Wolf. Do I have to do everything for you?

Next up: Deerhoof, Deerhunter and Deer Tick.

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