We all know that appearances can be deceiving, and it’s often the smallest dogs that bark the loudest. Not that I want to liken musicians to dogs, except perhaps Pitbull. But he brought that on himself. However, in the same way, you don’t necessarily need a big band to make a big noise. Two piece outfits may not subscribe to the classic formula, but they seem to hold a special place in music. Take the White Stripes, DZ Deathrays or Japandroids to name just a few, a low head count doesn’t necessarily mean low volume – or creativity. So, with that point in mind, we’ve rounded up five of the best two piece bands who are making the most noise for your listening pleasure.
Kicking off with the California based duo Deap Vally. Lindsey Troy on guitar and vocals and Julie Edwards on drums, one listen to their high octane performances and might not believe that they met at a crochet class. Screaming onto the scene with their 2012 track Gonna Make My Own Money, Deap Vally hit hard with their thrashed out rock ’n’ roll. Raw and infectious, Troy pulls out hefty, distorted riffs and vocals that consistently push into overdrive. Having had the privilege of seeing a particularly intimate live show from Deap Vally, the sheer energy emanating from the duo is impressive to say the very least, and totally magnetic. Purists may bemoan the lack of bass, but I defy you to miss it. Troy and Edwards are now back after three years, with an imminent sophomore album; Femejism. You can check out their rad new video for the first single Gonnawanna.
Don’t let Kit Trigg fool you with his tagline “we’re fucking terrible”. The London based duo of “Nic (chill)” and “Kit (chill)” [sic] are one the best things I’ve heard recently. Another guitar/drums set up, with Kit on vocals and Nic on sticks, the pair manage to meld blues and stoner rock with a kind of thrashed out punk influence. Moving between soulful bluesy heartbreak and overdriven jam outs on their debut EP Thrasher, Kit Trigg rips it up with his shredded vocals and excellent riffs. Steady drumming is rounded out with generous use of Nic’s crashes, and the guitar work comes in two flavours; smooth caramel and bottom heavy distortions. The pair manage to create a satisfyingly weighty feel, the stripped back set up only adds to the rawness of their feel. Set to begin recording their debut album later this year, there’s a lot to look forward to from Kit Trigg.
Also hailing from the UK, Drenge heralded a bit of a homeland revival of straight up rock when they launched onto the scene in 2013. Sharply avoiding heritage indie and brit pop, the Loveless brothers are chunky riffs, judicious distortion, classic drumming and drone vocals. They truly are all out rock; fast paced with a touch of menace and angst, Drenge actually came with a recommendation. After the resignation of British Labour MP Tom Watson from Shadow Cabinet, in a farewell blog post Watson wrote “be that great Labour leader that you can be, but try to have a real life too. And if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge.” The band had already garnered a modest following and received media attention by this point, but it’s not every emerging artist that gets a shout out from the world of national politics. They did enlist bassist Rob Graham for their 2015 sophomore release Undertow, but after their killer self-titled record, Drenge still seem to retain the core of a two piece at heart.
If we’re going to go down the road of two piece bands who really do make a lot of noise, then Colombia’s Inquisition probably rack up the most decibels. The vintage black metal band first formed in the 80s, but are still recording and touring. Check out their catalogue and you would be hard pressed to differentiate between Inquisition and bands with four members or more. Pulverising drumming and lightning quick thrash guitar, they play on the starker aspects of metal. Often pairing menacing vocals with double-pedalled bass drumming, heavy cymbal work and guitar which switches between rhythm and lead in one riff. In a 2005 interview, vocalist and guitarist Dagon explained how the duo cover all bases with just their sparse elements; “We have the bare minimum needed to create Satanic music in the form of Black Metal: a guitar, drums and a voice. With this simplistic formula, I believe that this adds to the magic of our hymns. You can do so much with so little, it is all about how creative you can or want to be, it is about your capabilities.”
Back to the UK once more – it has always made a surprising amount of noise for such a small nation. Scotland’s Honeyblood are excellent proof that garage bands and rock have nothing to do with gender. The duo, Stina Tweeddale and Shona McVicar, banded together after meeting at a shared gig with their previous bands. Looking to have more autonomy over their writing, the two started playing together. They had originally planned to bring in more members, but after playing a few shows as a two piece they realised they really couldn’t think of anything that was missing. Bridging elements of garage rock and 90s indie, Honeyblood make excellent lo-fi rock to mosh to. Early releases felt like DIY cassette recordings; all raw appeal and slightly muffled, in a pleasant way. Their 2016 release Ready For The Magic, comes ahead of their sophomore album Babes Never Die. The duo have lost nothing of that rawness but the single has a lot more heat, almost edging into punk territory.