(Photo: Helen Messenger)
There seems to be a commonly believed fallacy that the more members and instruments a musical act has, the more deeper and expansive the output. Yeah, it’s completely undeniable that there’s a plethora of acts containing a high number of members who release phenomenal multitextured and dynamic work, but believing that the amount of members directly collarates alongside the quality of work is nothing more than falsehood. With that in consideration, here’s our list of our top 5 crucial duos who prove couples can do it better, both live and in the studio.
With their roots firmly embedded within the riotgrrl and DIY Punk scenes and movements, Kamikaze Girls are a duo who aren’t afraid to narrate the tales that moulded them, laying bare their anxieties to create a scene of unity who require a sense of catharsis. Following a string of emotionally driven and intense EP’s, the duo released their fantastic full length debut Seafoam in the summer of last year. Containing heartfelt and often uncomfortably frank accounts of misogyny, ongoing battles with mental health and insecurity, the record struck a chord with seeking an aggressive and uneasy reverb laden strike at the developing social issues surrounding society. Kamikaze Girls are a group who offer solace to those have been impacted by this cold and callous society, presenting snapshots of their experiences in which listeners can find familiarity within.
We’ve been banging on about this project for a while now, with the act being scored highly within our 2000 Trees and Palm Reader tour reviews, but anyone who has experienced this band either on record or in the flesh can attest to their brilliance. Bursting from the still smouldering ashes of chaotic powerhouse of mayhem that was HECK, Haggard Cat are a two-piece who take the fundamental sensibilities of spunky rock n roll before beating the ever loving shit out of them. Retaining that explosive and spasmodic charge from their previous act, Haggard Cat revel in conscious eccentrics, reigniting and reinvigorating a genre that has tested to the point of exhaustion. Such a claim is evident within their debut release Challenger; a record which could probably be compared to something The White Stripes or Royal Blood would release if they were pumped full of stimulating narcotics and forced to listen to The Dillinger Escape Plan for 76 hours straight. Thrilling, primal and thoroughly exciting, Haggard Cat are an act who perfectly present that there’s still life in good ol’ rock n’ roll.
The Hyena Kill
Whilst being the spiritual birthplace of Northern Soul, Manchester is also home to a brooding and abounding underbelly of a scene full of gritty, snarling and brilliant noise acts. One such act who have the capabilities and gravelly riffs required to make Shaun Ryder shit himself are the noise rock two piece The Hyena Kill. Since making their entrance into the subterranean scene with their 2012 Gush EP, the duo have been steadily climbing the rungs of the metaphysical leader of the noise scene thanks to their gnarly as fuck riffs, pulsing reverb, pounding unrelenting drumlines and obtusely blunt attitude. Resonating the ethos of both the DIY and noise movements, the duo forcibly grabbed the attention of the extended alt scene with their fantastic debut record Atomised. Such a release saw the duo continuously assault the boundaries of a multitude of genres, savagely craving their own niche with their weaponised frustration of having to endure the monotony of life. Since then the group have shared stages with the likes of Arcane Roots, Pijn and Zeal & Ardor and have made the next step of their blossoming career with this year’s Spun EP; a record that only expanded their sound with even more abrasive innovation.
To be cynical is to be realistic, say the Oxford based duo Cassels. Deliberating jarring and challenging in nature, duo are an act who embody the DIY approach to song writing, shunning tested and formulaic conventions and structures in favour of creating work that challenges and confronts the socially accepted norm, both lyrically and sonically. Acute and profound, Cassels excel in spitting contemporary, tongue in cheek poetry alongside reverberating and convulsing walls of static, an act they demonstrated within their debut full length Epithet. Sometimes apathetic, occasionally frustratingly resenting, yet constantly antagonistic, Epithet embodied the ethos and youthful frustration of the DIY scene. In a post-Brexit world where our future is shrouded in ambiguity, Cassels are the voice of a generation and movement who are sick, skeptical and cynical of the current social-political environment, a culture that holds our future and dreams in a constant chokehold.
For the post-rock duo Nordic Giants, immersion and atmosphere reign supreme. Masked and coated in natural foliage, the group ensure a level of elemental mysticism remains constant within their output, both in stage and on record. By utilizing an expansive musical palate and instrumental range in order to add a level of dynamism to their work, the group exemplify the creative prowess of the post-rock ideology. Cinematic, atmospheric and extremely enveloping, the soundscapes conjured and tamed by this act eclipse even the most innovative acts within this genre. However, the stage is where Nordic Giants truly shine, and it’s where the cinematic element comes transparent. Backed by screens displaying short films that are sound-tracked live the by act, the duo create a multisensory experience that transcends the typical live music environment. Ranging from therapeutic and empowering to dark and climatic, the performance and art that Nordic Giants deliver is unparalleled by any other act under the sun and must be seen to be believed.