OK, I Guess It’s Time to Rank All Those Active-Verb Bands

It seems really weird that we’re able to arrange a top-fifteen list of bands with one-word names ending in -ing, but we might as well do it...right?

Eight years ago, Lauren Records released what I still consider to be one of the greatest compilation albums of our time, entitled I Think We Should Stay Away from Each Other. Alongside some of the label’s most well-known collaborators (Joyce Manor, together Pangea, and AJJ) were names I was unfamiliar with at the time, but have since come to love, if only for their contribution to the record. One such name was Forming, a group which evidently stayed away from each other after recording a single EP in addition to their contribution to ITWSSAFEO. But I swear to you, at least once a month over the course of the past few years, I’ve clicked on a news post announcing new music from the group, only to realize that it’s a totally different band with a one-word, active-verb band name, frequently even traveling in the same Lauren-adjacent pop-punk circles.

As a personal exercise in sorting out fifteen totally disparate artists with hardly more than a suffix in common, I’ve ranked these groups, most of whom I know nothing about besides the evident fact that they sound nothing like the band who plays the final track on a label comp I played to death in college. Needless to say, this list is almost entirely uninformed, and if you disagree with any of it, well, that’s probably because you are right and I am wrong.

To narrow the pool down—which, for some reason, is something I’m able to do and still have a top fifteen—these -ing band names are specifically active verbs (sorry Nothing, Weakling, Ratking, Aldous Harding, et al). Please note that in conducting research for this article, the names Canceling and Wanking are all still up for grabs.


15. Forming

I’m starting with Forming because a) their track, to be honest, is probably the least memorable cut from the comp, and b) most of the rest of this list is comprised of artists who I can’t not listen to in relation to the song “Always” by some band called Forming. It’s certainly not bad—probably most appealing to anyone who wonders what Elliott Smith in jorts would have sounded like—but always felt like a pretty harsh comedown after JM’s “Famous Friend.”

14. Breaking

Breaking falls well outside the pop- and post-punk parameters of much of this list—Badalamenti nostalgia with an unearthed-relic quality akin to Lewis. Easily the most passive active-verb band I’ve heard.

13. Dowsing

“Midwest Living” sounds like at least a quarter of the Chicago apartments I was in circa 2012, the approximate moment I realized jocks weren’t the only college-aged demographic to employ empty liquor containers as aesthetic kitsch and reconsidered the risk–reward ratio of the alley couch. Midwest emo at its most Midwest.

12. Snowing

I dunno, man, I think I just missed out on whatever this was.

11. Crying

Equal parts Deerhoof wonk and Passion Pit elation, “There Was a Door” sounds like the perfect song for the end credits to an early-aughts made-for-TV Disney movie. Literally found this band by Googling “crying band” because I thought “Crying” would be a sick thing to call my band.

10. clipping.

Two dudes who are into harsh noise and also the guy who wrote a song just so exactly five seconds of it could be used as a joke in the movie Zootopia? Sign me up.

9. Foxing

Hell yeah, love M83. But how exactly does one “fox”?

8. Moaning  

Moaning is the second Sub Pop artist on this list and also the second band name to misleadingly indicate a painful experience. “Don’t Go” is like if post-punk was less frigid and more, I dunno, bored? For some reason I don’t believe this man when he tells me not to go.

7. Versing

“Offering” is a more Painful-era YLT take on post-punk, but works weirdly well in succession to Moaning. Bonus point for what could be read as an active-verb track name.

6. SPELLLING

Similar unearthed-’80s quality to Breaking—though inspired by a much different movie soundtrack—SPELLLING is a very Sacred Bones take on synth music, the name “SPELLLING” obviously being an indication of the experimental quality Tia Cabral’s music has come to be known for. Good music, hard to Google band name.

5. Shopping

More post-punk, specifically the kind where Brits just kinda talk to each other while guitar rock is also happening. Presumably decent music to shop to.

4. Swearin’

This fuckin’ band.

3. Kindling

“For Olive” is some dense-ass dream pop with particularly shoegazy vocals. I always read the band name “kindling” as a noun, since the band’s sound is very warm, but I’m happy to make an exception for this list.

2. Keeping

I always felt “keeping” was an appropriate name for the Community Recs supergroup whose only LP plays like a hazy recollection of memories they haven’t been able to let go of. “Empty Portal” is a particularly wistful moment which feels very keeping-y. Cool name. Cool music. Good job, band. OK.

1. Running

Damn, what an active verb “running” is. Really just the perfect name for an aggressive Chicago garage punk outfit, who sound like the kind of people who would smash all of Dowsing’s vodka bottles and impair their couch to the point of it deserving its original alley relegation. I think the opening squeals of “This Is a You Problem” are enough for you to dissociate Running from the rest of this list, but boy does that name look like entries two through fifteen. FL

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