Two Timing: The 11 Best Rock Duos

Categories: Lists, Playbill

No Age Jan 11.jpg
Todd Cole
Wednesday night, noisy indie duo No Age (above) pulls into Fitzgerald's. The two-piece of guitarist Randy Randall and drummer Dean Allen Spunt, starting making waves in 2007 with their debut Weirdo Rippers. 2008's Nouns brought them even more acclaim, and along the way they gained former Husker Du frontman Bob Mould as a friend and collaborator.

They also spawned plenty of imitators in the process, with a healthy batch of two-piece noise-rockers coming in their wake, or at least getting increased light shed on them after No Age's across the board critical praise. Remember the Japandroids?

Last September's Everything In Between (Sub Pop) is another set of stellar No Age jams, with Randall and Spunt sprawling out their tightly-wound sound with loops and aural swirls.

We love duos here at Rocks Off. You know that two-piece bands have to be happy, since they only have to split the money two ways after the government and management take their cuts.

The Black Keys sep23 a-thumb-560x373 jan11.jpg
Marc Brubaker
The Black Keys at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 22, 2010
We define a rock duo as two people: Drums and guitar, drums and bass, or drums and whatever bashing out songs. Simon & Garfunkel and Hall & Oates were duos, but only in the songwriting sense; same for the Everly Brothers. Sparks are a great, grandly weird glam-rock duo that uses extra musicians to fill themselves out.

Mates of State and the Black Keys also tour with a revolving set of musicians who come out when needed. When the former came to Warehouse Live last summer, they made their small sound fill up the whole room, and the Keys are one of the loudest blues-rock bands going at the moment, although Kentucky's best-kept secret, the Black Diamond Heavies, may have something to say about that.

goldenaxe jan11.jpg
Marc Brubaker
Golden Axe at Fitzgerald's, December 31, 2010
If the White Stripes return at the end of this year or for the Apocalypse in 2012, everyone else's sound will be made moot. By far, they are the loudest two-piece we have ever seen or heard.

A few months ago the Chicago Tribune asked a few rock duos like Matt & Kim, the Keys and No Age how they get so loud live. Most, obviously, use heavy feedback and plenty of extra volume poured on to whip up their sound. The almost unnaturally cheerful M&K use their grins and sweat.

The Keys seem to use the empty space onstage to their advantage, with the duo never that close together if they can help it. Tegan & Sara are very good at filling in the blank spaces when it's just them in an acoustic setting.

DJ duos like the Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, and Justice are commonplace. Comedy duos like Tenacious D and Flight of the Conchords only need each other live, but the Mighty D did enlist Dave Grohl and others for their 2001 studio album.

The Houston scene has some great duos in its midst, with Golden Axe, Caddywhompus, Female Demand, and Ghost Town Electric just a few we can think of off the top of our shiny heads.



Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
20 comments
Brad
Brad

Carusella is ridiculously loud live. The only Houston show they have done to my knowledge was with Torche before SXSW last year.

Chris Johnson19
Chris Johnson19

Black Diamond Heavies are the best. You missed Dex Romweber Duo. Another great band.

CarrotRoper
CarrotRoper

Steely Dan? you guys totally missed on this one. Jeff the Brotherhood?

Original21
Original21

Local H! One of my favourite bands ever. God bless 'em

willied1029
willied1029

Local H is the best. They make albums that are great all the way through. And they are absolutely awesome to see live.

Jmccabe2
Jmccabe2

Local H is very much underrated. I have all their albums and they are one of my top 3 bands.

Adamjbilecki
Adamjbilecki

When Considering local H you must understand Good As Dead was made with Joe Daniels and not Bryan St. Claire which makes it half of the original duo. When again Local H does tour on occasion with a bassist.

Kelly Bond
Kelly Bond

A shame there's no love for either of Jeff Turzo's bands, God Lives Underwater or Wired All Wrong. Oh well.

Sag1015
Sag1015

Spinanes didn't even warrant an honorable mention?

Cory Martin
Cory Martin

DFA opening for Nine Inch Nails was great. And I've seen Female Demand a few times and loved every performance. But I don't get it, were the Stripes and the Keys too good for the list, or not good enough?

Jamie
Jamie

Came for DFA 1979 and Local H. Leaving happy.

Local H's "Bound For the Floor" still kills it today.

Marc Brubaker
Marc Brubaker

Death From Above is louder than your White Stripes.

Chitown_DJ
Chitown_DJ

I have seen Local H around 75 times and I can remember only about 3-4 times where they played most of the set with additional musicians. The manner in which Scott Lucas sets up his guitar rig, provides a bass feed as well as his guitars. While Joe Daniels was the original drummer and was very good, Brian St. Claire has produced some excellent material with Scott, my favorite CD being "Here Comes the Zoo". Brian St. Claire was the drummer for Chicago band Triple Fast Action and was the drum tech for Cheap Trick before becoming half of Local H.

CraigHlavaty
CraigHlavaty

They have been overdone, and I wanted showcase bands people don't probably know.

Cory Martin
Cory Martin

Gotcha. I actually do appreciate that. I'm only familiar with about half those acts.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...