Bands named after animals are nothing new.  Some of the greatest bands of all time took their name from the animal kingdom.  And The Eagles did too!  But in recent years, indie bands in particular have shown a special sort of fascination with beastly band names.  And when it comes time to pick those names, they turn to these five animals more than any others…

5. The Deer


As Used By: The Deer Tracks, Deer Tick, Deerhoof, Deer Hunter

While not nearly as prevalent as other animals, the wolf for example, the deer is currently enjoying a new found popularity in the indie rock band name market. Noise-pop masters Deerhoof have been around since the mid-90’s, but recent releases by Deer Tick and the 2008-best-of-list topping Deer Hunter have propelled the antlered automobile destroyer into the indie rock spotlight. Expect an onslaught of deer named bands any second now.

Most Rock Friendly Characteristic: Self destructive tendencies – with their penchant for bounding wildly into oncoming traffic, the deer is the animal kingdom embodiment of the “live fast die young” stereotype that has been a staple of rock music since the dawn of time.

Most Inspired Band Name: The Deer In Your Headlights

Band Name I Can’t Believe Doesn’t Exist: The Deer John Letter

4. The Wolf


As Used By: Sea Wolf, Wolf Parade, We Are Wolves, Wolf Eyes, Turbowolf

With the wolf, we dive headlong into indie rock royalty. For the better part of 2008, it seemed like you couldn’t read a single paragraph on most music blogs without the mention of a wolf popping up. The Los Angeles based band Sea Wolf even went the extra mile and released a single called “You’re a Wolf.” I’m pretty sure I’m not, but not having “wolf” somewhere in my name does make me feel like a bit of an outcast these days.

Most Rock Friendly Characteristic: Traveling in packs – like any good DIY band traversing the country in a beat up van, wolves travel in packs. And just like most bands end up doing at some point, wolves all wear extravagant fur coats and eventually one of them goes solo. That’s nature for you.

Most Inspired Band Name: AIDS Wolf

Band Name I Can’t Believe Doesn’t Exist: Deer Wolf – but there is a song out there with that title, so just give it time.

3. The Horse


As Used By: Band of Horses, Horse Feathers, Night Horse, An Horse, Toy Horses

Majestic, gallant, powerful, bearded, signed to Sub Pop Records. Wait, all of those things actually do not describe real horses. But these days, you could forgive a person for getting things confused. Like any good rock and roll snowball effect, Band of Horses released a breakthrough album, and now no fewer than seven horse named bands will be galloping their way through the SXSW Festival this year.

Most Rock Friendly Characteristic: Beer endorsements

Most Inspired Band Name: The Donkeys, Stereo Pony (tie) – way to break the mold.

Band Name I Can’t Believe Doesn’t Exist: Delta Horse

2. The Bear


As Used By: Grizzly Bear, Panda Bear, Bear In Heaven, Angry vs. The Bear

Is there a hotter animal in indie rock right now? Put your hands down, I’m not actually expecting you to reply.  The answer, of course, is no. Panda Bear is in Animal Collective, and people have officially lost their shit over that new Animal Collective album. Throw Grizzly Bear and the much read blog Gorilla vs. Bear into the fray and you have a full on cultural movement taking place. A “bearevolution,” if you will. Sorry.

Most Rock Friendly Characteristic: Violence – in its earliest days, rock music was threatening. Bears? Still threatening.

Most Inspired Band Name: Minus the Bear

Band Name I Can’t Believe Doesn’t Exist: Bear Arms!

1. The Bird


As Used By: The Bird and The Bee, Birds of Tokyo, Birds of Wales, Wallis Bird, The Late Birds, Seabird, Andrew Bird (ok, maybe that last one doesn’t count)

The bird has a long and storied history in rock music. The Byrds, The Eagles, The Black Crowes, The Fabulous Thunderbirds… stone cold legends, some of them. And like the mythical phoenix (also a bird, fyi) it is rising once again in the world of indie rock. It may not be rampaging through the scene like the wolf or the bear, but with the recent, albeit mild, success of The Bird and The Bee and a slew of bird named bands set to strike in the coming months, 2009 could go down in indie rock history as the year of the bird. Or the snake, the tiger, the domestic house cat, the mouse. Who the hell knows?

Most Rock Friendly Characteristic: The gift of flight – nothing rocks harder than that.

Most Inspired Band Name: Eagles of Death Metal

Band Name I Can’t Believe Doesn’t Exist: The Byrds of the 21st Century

What about you? Have you noticed any animals slipping into band names?