In the internet age, where search engines are used as frequently as clocks, it’s easy for a band’s name to get buried deep in the void of Google. A bunch of clever bands have found a workaround for this problem, though. The recent years’ trend in band names with all capital letters and no vowels is no coincidence. Search engine optimization is vital for a memorable, easily discoverable band name in this day and age; what better way to make sure a band is the first thing that comes up than by removing all the vowels from its moniker? Nothing else of note will come up when searching this name, it gives a standard word or two some extra flair, and it certainly looks cool. Here are 10 acts who’ve dropped the vowels from the names and capitalized the leftover letters.
Easily the most widely known band on this list, MGMT differs from other artists following this trend in that MGMT is a common abbreviation for “management.” After 2007’s sophomore effort Oracular Spectacular, this Wesleyan duo blossomed into a nationally beloved sensation revered for hits like “Kids” and “Time to Pretend.” Subsequent albums Congratulations (2010) and MGMT (2013) saw the band dialing back on their pop tendencies and embracing their experimental and psychedelic influences even more strongly. Although each new album has seemed to encounter harsher reviews than the last, MGMT’s fanbase has remained strong, as has their creativity; a new album currently is currently in the works.
Not always lacking consonants, this Portland indie pop band was known as Starfucker for quite some time before society’s strains on cursing convinced the band to stylize their name as STRFKR. Although they chose their original name as a joke, the band took off far too rapidly for an attempted name change to hold; while still known as Starfucker, the band would go on to release “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second,” the song that would propel them to national awareness. This song appeared on their debut album, since which they’ve released three new albums, including two on esteemed indie label Polyvinyl Records. A new single, “Never Ever,” released earlier this year hints that STRFKR’s first album in three years isn’t too far away.
They say that accidental discoveries are the most fruitful, and Toronto duo MSTRKRFT (comprised of Al-P and Jesse F. Keeler) is a prime example of how this notion holds true. Pre-MSTRKRFT, Al-P produced the debut album by Keeler’s band Death From Above 1979; during this time, which followed a slew of previous collaborations, the two realized just how well they worked together and enjoyed doing so. Just like that, not even two years after Death From Above 1979 released its first LP, MSTRKRFT debuted with The Looks. For a good five years, MSTRKRFT remained steadily pumping out banger after banger, including frequent remixes of others’ songs, before going a bit quieter. But with 2016 seemingly being the year of reunions, MSTRKRFT couldn’t help but join in on the party, with “Little Red Hen” coming out just moments before its string of high-profile SXSW dates.
Possibly the newest act on this list, PWR BTTM’s moniker is an explicitly sexual one, a term that’s frequently used in LGBTQ circles to describe a very specific kind of self-empowered sexual partner. When this term’s vowels are dropped and the remaining letters are capitalized, though, what’s left is a thoroughly enticing band name with significant meaning to the queer community its members stem from. Band members Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins deliver some of the most hilarious stage banter out there today as they tear through jangly rock ’n roll anthems that so many can relate to, reminding listeners that people tend to struggle with the same issues no matter how they identify. With two EPs and an incredibly buzzy debut album under their belt, PWR BTTM’s promise for the future is incredibly vast.
SBTRKT is what the word “subtract” looks like when its vowels are removed and the “c” is replaced with a “k.” The ghostly name isn’t the only mysterious quality Aaron Jerome’s brooding electronic pop bears. Jerome wears ceremonial masks on stage when he performs and poses for press photos, shielding himself from the public eye. It’s no coincidence he’s best known as “subtract,” then. His music maintains an enigmatic, brooding quality perfectly fitting for someone who strives to keep a reasonable distance, and a recent “non-album collection of songs” entitled Save Yourself certainly keeps the world asking questions. Yet for all this intrigue, SBTRKT’s most remarkable quality may well be the shimmers of optimism and intimacy often weaved throughout his tunes.
Formed at the top of the decade, JPNSGRLS deliver an infectious garage pop sound so familiar it’s tough to resist. A 2013 EP followed by a debut full-length the following year both drew substantial attention. As one of the younger bands on this list, JPNSGRLS haven’t offered that much music, but in the time between new releases, it’s fun to decipher how to pronounce its moniker. This one might be among more immediately perplexing names here, so solving its puzzle is a particularly rewarding challenge. While the latter half of the name clearly reads “girls,” the former less obviously represents the word “Japanese” with all its vowels removed. Almost as remarkable as the group’s infuriatingly catchy tunes is its surprisingly revealing realization that the word “Japanese” is comprised half of vowels.
It’s been a moment since BLK JKS have made themselves heard; their only full-length record to date came nine years after their formation, and in the seven years that have passed, the band has been mostly silent. Other than an EP in the same year as their debut album and another EP the next year, BLK JKS are as enigmatic as the masked man gracing the cover of their first album, After Robots, released in 2009 via Secretly Canadian. Now seems like a great time for a return, though. The band’s odd fusion of jazz and soul styles into rock standards underpinned by African percussion and rhythms would be right at home with the recent newfound appreciation for jazz within the indie sphere.
The story of MNDR’s name is both adorable and a bit underwhelming. It’s tempting to read this name as “minder,” a term that might seem to describe one who can read minds, but is instead pronounced “mander.” This pronunciation stems from MNDR, real name Amanda Warner, being called “Mander” often as a funky nickname for Amanda. But a name is only a name; despite the relatively tame origin story of her name, MNDR happens to be a pretty widely admired figure in the somewhat more mainstream electronic world, rising to prominence for her vocal turn on a Mark Ronson single. MNDR’s announced in January that her second album is finished and will be titled The Mainstream.
DWNTWN hold the honor of being this list’s only band to have never released a full-length album. But three EPs-worth of music essentially boils down to an album, and that’s exactly what this Los Angeles-based indie rock band has offered the world to date. Musical talent just so happens to be in this band’s blood; frontwoman Jamie Leffer is the daughter of veteran Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers bassist Howie Epstein. The Heartbreakers’ unabashed love for both country and pop melodies is readily apparent in DWNTWN’s music. That they’ve grabbed the attention of such a huge name so early on in their career speaks volumes to just how special they are; it’s exciting to think of what they might bring to the table on a full-length.
DTCV’s bio explains that its name is “pronounced DTCV – stands for DTCV.” It’s clear that this duo has a sense of humor, a trait that’s likely easy to develop when one of your two members has dealt with being in Robert Pollard’s famed Guided by Voices. Despite this connection, it took until recently for DTCV to receive substantial press; their breaking point came when they somehow got Steven Soderbergh, of all people, to direct their most recent music video. If this sounds like breaking all the rules (they got the Erin Brokovich guy to direct a music video!) then that’s fitting. After all, the band does describe itself as “anarcho-symbolist rock.” Mix this mindset with a sound that blends French pop with a style called “60s yé-yé,” and it’s easier to understand just how far off the beaten track this band roves.