There’s a lot more to be said about band names – though any serious conversation rarely gets beyond the the early-naughties’ monumentally awful, ear-bothering, ooh-look-at-us-aren’t-drugs-naughty fatuousness of Toploader‘s moniker.
They were endorsed by Jamie Oliver, for heaven’s sake, a folly of such magnitude that the repercussions went full circle, beyond the ‘unparalleled idiocy’ category and into the public’s affections.
And the worst news of all? Toploader are reforming. It says so on Wikipedia, so it must be true. Start stocking up on tinned goods now – the apocalypse is nearly upon us.
Some past new bands have chosen more acceptably outré names, producing musical hat-tippings to obscure Japanese videogame consoles – see Golau Glau’s Virtual Boy, and the entire output of fuzzy bleep specialist Kezzie Beat – but Wonderswan are the first to actually name the band themselves after one.
The fact that they produce delightfully grainy rock instead of the 8-bit Chiptune bleeping you’d expect means that extra kudos is to be swivelled towards Wonderswan. Then heap even more on them as you revel in the 90’s Americana lo-fi sounds of Furrrpile, a whining and crunchy song so slack that it is almost anti-rock.
And before you ask, yes, there are great big dollops of Pavement in their sound, but no lo-fi band can avoid that trapping. But songs like Curve step daintily away from Malkmus and co, occupying their own, shoegaze/lo-fi (Shoe-fi? Lo-gaze? Shlo-Faze?) space – cranky, broad and fuzzier than a teenage boy’s chin.
Wonderswan are from Leeds, but could have stepped straight out of the bare, dusty midwest landscape that I (wrongly) picture all US lo-fi/hi-brain function bands to be living in. If their presence is a blast from the past, it’s a very welcome one.
PS: Pavement are reforming too. Look out for the Pavement/Toploader double-header tour.