If you read yesterday’s post about The Old Man And The Sea, odds are you know where this post is going. Because I mentioned it in passing while reviewing that great slab of Danish progressive rock. So, since yesterday afternoon I have been scratching my brain to determine what were/are the ten best nautical-themed band names ever. The problem is, how does one describe the word “nautical”? Should it be taken literally, as in, a name that is specifically about boating or operating a ship? Or should it be more…oceanic? Does Seal count as a nautically-themed man name? What about Jellyfish? Lungfish? Hammerhead? Pelican? An Albatross? Where do you hear about an albatross without talking to someone who’s read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner? That’s nautical, kind of, right? Not like, say, Cerberus Shoal. Or Poop Deck. Or the Beach Boys.
Looking at all these dictionaries and glossaries of nautical/seamanship terms makes me wonder why a lot of these words haven’t been used in band names before. Marpol? Tonnage? Collier? Dunnage? Hawser!? Panamax!? Check out a nautical glossary if you’re trying to name your band. That might make this next list easier.
I’m going to do my best here, but give me some leeway. I don’t know much about boats or boating (I know there are oars and sometimes sails). Is a kayak nautical? What about a motorboat? See, these things matter. Is a dinghy nautical? It’s not a part of a boat, but it’s something a ship might encounter. Whatever. This is my blog. If I want to change Man-Of-War into Man-O-War for the sake of this list, I’m going to do it. Fuck you and your ideas about how this list should go. If I’m going to sit here and write this, then god dammit you’re going to have to sit here and accept it.
The Top Ten Nautical-Themed Band Names
10. Current 93 – I mean, that’s a nautical name, right? Other than the movement of water, what is a current? Wait, don’t answer that. There are air currents too. But if you look at the recorded output of Current 93 you get titles like, “The Seahorse Rears to Oblivion,” “Black Ships Ate The Sky,” “Haunted Waves, Moving Graves”…Sounds pretty nautical to me!
09. U.S. Maple – Yeah, I know. That says U.S. Maple, not U.S.S. Maple. But I can’t think of ten cool bands named after nautical/maritime things, so give me a fucking break.
08. High Tide – Your first exposure to High Tide might have been this blog post, where I shared their amazing “Sea Shanties” record. And if you already knew about the band before I published that post, it was probably from Julian Cope’s Head Heritage website.
07. Force Majeure – Before you call me a homo for listening to Bristol New Wave of the early ’80s, keep in mind this is just a list of nautically-themed band names. I’m not signing off on the quality of the music. That said, a Force Majeure is the clause limiting responsibilities for charterers, shippers and receivers of cargo. So, yes, technically it is a nautical reference.
06. The Sea And Cake – Of course they were named for the song “The C In Cake” by Gastr Del Sol, but the sea is still related to boating and seamanship, so it definitely counts for the purpose of this list. By the way, album names would have been a way better list than band names. Maybe next week…
05. Majic Ship – Their self-titled record on Bel-Ami is a super-rare psychedelic/fuzz garage LP. The 1997 reissue detailed the story of the New York band, from their humble beginnings to the masterpiece album that was released in 1970. How crazy is this — one day in the winter of 1971 the band lost all of their equipment. And then they broke up. That’s it. No replacement gear, no nothing, they just figures it had run its course and they should go their separate ways. Fucking crazy! Majic Ship! HA!
04. The Old Man And The Sea – You first learned about this Danish progressive jam band yesterday. Technically named after Hemingway’s novel of same name, it’s still nautical because it’s a book about the battle between a fisherman and a marlin. If that’s not maritime-themed, I don’t know what is.
03. Unwed Sailor – formed by Jonathan Ford, these guys have recorded instrumental post-rock and ambient music for Burnt Toast and Gentlemen records since 1998. Oh, and extensive list of collaborators includes David Bazan (Pedro The Lion), Dan Burton (Ativin), Joey Yates and Benny Clark of Parlour, and Aaron Ford of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. Solid name.
02. Atoll – Bonus points for obscurity, unless of course this French progressive band got their name from a French word that doesn’t translate to anything nautical/maritime in nature. Oh, and FYI, according to the Navy’s website coral reefs sometimes grow around seamounts that rise above the surface of the ocean. as the seamount sinks or its peak erodes, the seamount will disappear beneath the water leaving the coral ring. I guess that’s what an Atoll is.
01. Captain Marryat – “Named after the 19th century mariner and novelist, this Glaswegian band made just one privately-pressed LP…they were originally intending to record a single, but the engineer at the Glasgow studio they’d booked told them that there was time enough to make a whole album. They therefore taped five tracks they’d already written…and finished the LP with an improvised am. The result came in a drab flip back sleeve, and according to one dealer is ‘a progressive rock rarity with psych flourishes, doom-laden organ plus acid guitar riffs and strong male vocals.” Why does it win the best nautical/maritime name? Because the obscurity factor, the rarity factor (last known copy sold for $2,200), and because the music is really good! Check it out, via Prog Not Frog.
El Perro Del Mar – Walk On By [MP3]