Ever since the success of The Black Keys and The White Stripes in the early 2000s, duo bands have had a special place in blues rock music, but almost no other such band has made it to the mainstream since then. However, there are still some good blues rock duos around. Here are five of them:
Blood Red Shoes
Blood Red Shoes is an English alternative rock duo formed by Laura-Mary Carter (vocals/guitar) and Steven Ansell (vocals/drums). Simple guitar melodies are the most distinctive characteristic of their music. Instead of chords or complex guitar solos, Carter prefers to employ short, repetitive individual notes, as if in a bass line, in most songs. Therefore the band has a very minimalist musical style, even for a duo. “I Wish I Was Someone Better” and “‘In Time to Voices” are in my opinion their most characteristic songs.
The Blue Stones
The Blue Stones are a Canadian indie blues rock duo made up of Tarek Jafar (vocals/guitar) and Justin Tessier (drums). They point to The Black Keys as their main influence, and after listening to their songs, you’ll understand that this is very true. In fact, The Blue Stones’ style is so close to that of The Black Keys that they might even be considered the second-generation version of that band. “Black Holes” and “Rolling with the Punches” are my favorite works of theirs so far.
Royal Blood is another duo band from England, featuring Mike Kerr (vocals/bass guitar) and Ben Thatcher (drums). Although the band was formed only in 2013, Royal Blood is the most famous duo of the musical generation coming after The Black Keys and The White Stripes; they reached the top of the English charts with their very first album. Although blues rock is still a major element of the music they make, their overall sound is closer to hard rock. Featuring a bass guitar as the melodic element makes the band’s style very different than that of other hard rock bands, however. “Figure It Out” and “Out of Black” are the most popular songs from their debut album.
The Kills are an English/American garage blues rock duo featuring Alison Mosshart (vocals) and Jamie Hince (guitar). Although the band was formed in 2000, it still continues to develop a unique musical style, having changed with every new album since then. After Hince lost his left middle finger in 2013, he wasn’t able to play chords normally, so he had to alter his technique and rely mostly on playing individual notes. Thus, the duo’s latest album, “Ash & Ice,” which came out in 2016, is their most minimalist release to date. “Black Tar,” “Siberian Nights” and “Echo Home” are my favorite tracks from “Ash & Ice.”
The Picturebooks are a German blues rock duo formed by Fynn Claus Grabke (vocals/guitar) and Philipp Mirtschink (drums). Although they’re from Germany, they have a sound that we’re used to hearing from American bands – an aggressive sound with influences from American country music. This synthesis creates music that you would listen to while riding a motorcycle along a country road into the sunset. In keeping with their musical style, the band always uses American flags and rural settings in their videos. I recommend the songs “Your Kisses Burn Like Fire” and “I Need That Oooh.”