From the White Stripes to Japandroids, two-piece bands are now the industry-standard

From The Guardian:

When the White Stripes conquered Britain in 2001, in a campaign that took all of a week, the novelty of seeing a two-piece band was countered by scepticism from the chin-strokers. “No bass player?” they mused. “How will that work if they play longer sets and bigger stages?” Countless headline festival slots answered that question, but Jack and his “little sister” Meg were still considered unique; the Musicians Union wouldn’t have foreseen what happened next. While the myth of four guys who shook the world has served us well from the Beatles to the Roses, in 2012, two-piece bands are now the industry-standard shape of cool rock.

Recessionary factors are undoubtedly at play: for the acts, it’s cheaper and easier to pack the gear, travel, get gigs and make ends meet; for the labels, two egos are easier to deal with than four, and often more artistically simpatico. The recent success of Sleigh Bells, Beach House, The Black Keys, Crystal Castles and Summer Camp has shown that a partnership can produce a more tightly focused project.

All those acts, like the Kills before them, are happy to embellish their live sound with loops, synths and samples, but those two-pieces who make a virtue of their restricted means are arguably more interesting. Trailblazers in this respect were Death From Above 1979, who didn’t let their minimalist drums’n’bass set-up stop them from going full-on disco-punk. Brighton’s Blood Red Shoes, too, manage to channel every early-90s US college rock band, despite the absence of a bassist, second guitarist and plaid shirts. Here to save us from the Mumfords/Marling axis of niceness are doughty folk-grunge pairing Two Gallants; while in the not-entirely-crowded field of post-Black Keys blues-rock duos you might want to listen to, the Hot Soles deserve kudos for sounding like Solomon Burke fronting a 60s power trio (without the bassist, naturally).

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