When you think of musical duos, your first thought may be twenty one pilots, but they’re not the only two-piece creating killer tunes. These bands have certainly proven that you don’t need to fill out the stage to fill the room with hits, so open your mind and your heart to these other twosomes worthy of your playlists. Below are 10 for your consideration.
’68 – “Bad Bite”
’68 are the noise-punk band of your dreams. Featuring Josh Scogin (formerly of the Chariot and Norma Jean) and Nikko Yamada, the band’s formation was announced mere months after the end of the Chariot in 2013, brandishing guitar noise as a weapon against complacency. With driving riffs and emotion-packed vocals, this high-energy track from their third record, Give One Take One, manages to crawl up under your skin to maintain a tone so catchy, it will end up camped out in the back of your head.
3OH!3 – “IMNOTYOURBOYFRIENDBABY”
You either get it or you don’t with 3OH!3, the electro-crunk act who have built a career upon party anthems full of catchy and sometimes borderline offensive lyrics. While the duo’s claim to mainstream fame is tied back to “DONTTRUSTME,” the hit isn’t the only one worthy of your earbuds. “IMNOTYOURBOYFRIENDBABY” captures the essence of 3OH!3 with shouted declarations of defiance contrasted with soft and sweet vocals depicting somewhat of a cautionary tale. It’s truly the perfect addition to any scene-approved party playlist.
I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME – “Leave Me Alone”
Supergroups aren’t a new concept, but we love them all the same. Cue I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME—or iDKHOW for the emoji-loving, abbreviation users—which consists of Dallon Weekes and Ryan Seaman, formerly of Panic! At The Disco and Falling In Reverse, respectively. The duo thrive off secrecy, initially playing several pop-up gigs with only a handful of released singles. Having lifted their name from a line in Back To The Future, it’s no surprise the duo bleed ’80s influences, from electro-tinged beats to retro robotic voice-overs.
Matt And Kim – “Cameras”
Matt And Kim are a spunky duo, featuring the indie-centric pipes of frontman/keyboardist Matt Johnson meshed with the driving beats of drummer Kim Schifino. Known for giving an energetic live show, the alt act know how to get the figurative party started through dreamy indie-pop jams. “Cameras” is quintessential Matt And Kim, with horns and electro-beats driving home the importance of living in the moment. Their hook-filled lyrics will have you singing along in no time.
Royal Blood – “Lights Out”
A diss track has never sounded so sweet. Royal Blood certainly make a lot of welcome noise for having only two members. The duo capitalize on moody melodic rock highlighted by lyrics that dig deep, and we’d really hate to be the person this track is about. From “No, you don’t matter that much to me” to “You’re not so hard to forget/With all the lights out,” it’s clear the duo are not playing around.
Tegan And Sara – “Hell”
You can’t go wrong with Tegan And Sara, the Canadian indie-pop act helmed by the Quin sisters. The twins have been in the game for a while, having released their ninth full-length, Hey, I’m Just Like You, in 2019. That makes narrowing down one essential track a challenge. Their sixth LP, Sainthood, is packed with hits, but its first single “Hell” is a standout: The chorus is an earworm in itself, as they croon “I know you feel it too” to an audience who will totally be nodding along by the song’s end.
This Wild Life – “No More Bad Days”
Honestly, who doesn’t love a good acoustic track? This Wild Life picked up on the popularity and fully embraced it by shifting to an acoustic-rock duo, beginning with 2014’s Clouded. Kevin Jordan’s soft vocals blend expertly with Anthony Del Grosso’s guitar playing. There are also some blended strings that add another layer of emotion to the track. After all, the lyrics already pull on our heartstrings, as Jordan lays out all kinds of bad things that have happened before looking on the bright side.
Chambers – “Down The Rabbit Hole”
“Down The Rabbit Hole” does just as the title suggests: sucks you into the point of no return. Chambers, a self-proclaimed “sister doom duo,” are delivering their own brand of heavy alt-rock. Led by a slow-and-steady build, this track launches into a powerful, trance-like tone full of killer riffs. Clocking in at just over two minutes, the song may be short, but it’s certainly not sweet as vocalist/guitarist Aeris Houlihan repeatedly declares, “Don’t love you, but I need to” while Ellie Churchill rams home the sentiment from behind the drums.
Ho99o9 – “Street Power”
Kicking off a track with a melody reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Halloween score is a surefire way to put your listener on edge. With the fear of Michael Myers lurking around every corner, Ho99o9 (pronounced “horror”) blend the rapid flow of hip-hop with the fast beats of punk, moving seamlessly from one to the other for a super-charged track. Helmed by theOGM and Eaddy, Ho99o9 are bound to be your next favorite genre-bending duo.
Slaves (UK) – “Spit It Out”
Armed with charging guitar riffs and poignant lyrics, gritty punk duo Slaves are your British-bred wake-up call. Offering up visual metaphors such as chewing on a razor blade and pissing in the wind, guitarist/vocalist Laurie Vincent and drummer Isaac Holman don’t hold back in getting their point across. Best summed up by the line, “Thinking back on better days/How it used to be/Pull yourself together boy/You’re only 23,” Slaves are the life coaches you didn’t know you needed until now.
This piece first appeared in issue 362 and was curated by Rachel Campbell.