Though the 2 piece band has been around for years (see Simon and Garfunkel), they only entered mainstream rock within the last decade or so with the growing popularity of the White Stripes.
I’ve always had a soft spot for 2 piece bands. This may have started back when I was in middle school and a local band called the Lawn Gnomes played every month at the local skate park (with hits such as “Sex and Violence,” the only lyrics of which being sex and violence sung repeatedly), and though my musical tastes have evolved since then, I remain awed by the ability for 2 people to produce the same amount of sound as the typical 4-5 person band.
The dynamics are different when a band is comprised of only 2 people – drum machines are enlisted to keep the beat or drummers must fulfill other roles, such as the vocalist on top of their duties. Loop pedals become a guitarists’ best friend and both members learn how to multi-task. Arguments between band members can be much more destructive with no one to keep the peace (and no option to replace a single member). However, a number of bands have managed to come together successfully, and make, well, awesome music.
1. The Black Keys
Probably the most popular band on this list, I’m sure you’ve already heard the Black Keys multiple times, as their songs have been in everything from television shows to video games, and they graced this month’s cover of the Rolling Stone.
2. Death From Above 1979
I heard Death From Above 1979 for the first time when they opened for Nine Inch Nails. They instantly amazed me for 2 reasons: 1) there is no guitarist – that’s just a bass you hear and 2) the drummer is the vocalist. I have respect for anyone that can keep a good beat and sing at the same time.
3. Middle Class Rut
Another duo with a drummer as a vocalist, though he shares the duty with the guitarist. Middle Class Rut has been getting more radio plays lately, and will be touring with Chevelle in the spring, so expect to see more of them.
4. Two Gallants
Another band I discovered at a show (this time opening for Les Claypool), their folk-influenced rock is quite deserving of a listen. They received press attention after being tased by a police officer responding to a noise complaint. Sadly, they have not released an album since 2007, and are not currently touring.
5. The Ting Tings
A 2 piece with a woman that doesn’t suck (sorry Meg White). I’m sure you’ve heard the Ting Tings’ single “That’s Not My Name.” Their next album is set to be released in February, which will hopefully save them from one hit wonderdom.
This band’s genre is defined by vocalist Sarah Barthel’s sweet boobs. Another duo with a talented female, Phantogram recently released an EP entitled Nightlife and are currently touring Europe.
7. Flight of the Conchords
A self-described gangsta folk crossover, Flight of the Conchords is mainly known for their television show of the same name. You may be able to catch their hilarious antics on tour this year.
Bonus: Soft Cell
This band didn’t quite fit the list, but deserves an honorable mention for being awesome.