Two's Company: Canadian Two-Pieces I'm Stoked About
Updated: Feb 2, 2020
The two piece: it's been around a long time but seems to have suddenly exploded. In the wake of bands like The White Stripes, two piece bands came a-knocking and while there are some that were definitely subpar and fell to the wayside, others have invented their own sound showcasing how varied and amazing the two-person sound can truly be. Leading the charge? Canadians! While our history here can harken back to the likes of epic duos like Ian and Sylvia, there's been a modern renaissance of Canadian two-pieces. Here are just a few of my fav Canadian two pieces (be sure to read all the way to the end to grab a playlist).
Death From Above Formed in 2001 in Toronto, Ontario
As far as two-pieces go, I'd consider these guys the god fathers of hard rock duos. While they were formed post-White Stripes, Death From Above (formerly known as Death From Above 1979) have a sound unlike any two piece before them. Their gritty, raw and loud as fuck sound is unparalleled.
Death From Above made a huge splash on the rock scene with their first album You're a Woman, I'm a Machine but broke up shortly after in 2006 due to "creative differences" and a big rift between members Jesse Keeler and Sebastian Grainger. Reforming in 2011, their first festival show was SXSW where excited fans incited a freaking riot over the need to see them (check out the documentary Life After Death From Above for more info).
Still killing it with a new record just last year and loads of live gigs, DFA is back and better than ever.
Black Pistol Fire Formed in 2009 (but they've been playing together since high school) in Scarborough, Ontario
Black Pistol Fire is without a doubt my favourite two piece band (this is coming from a massive White Stripes fan ps). Their ability to provide bluesy vocals and punched up drums with down and dirty rock n' roll and a whole lot of feel is unmatched in the two-piece world and elsewhere.
Founded in Scarborough but currently located in Austin, Texas, Black Pistol Fire are known for their electric live performances. Trust me when I say you haven't heard them until you've heard them live. If you want to know more, check out my interview with drummer Eric Owen or my review of their most recent album, Deadbeat Graffiti.
The Blue Stones
Formed in 2010 in Windsor, Ontario
The Blue Stones were founded in 2010 but have been jamming together since 2008. Coming from way down southern Ontario, their sound combines that southern rock guitar sound with upbeat vocals and a touch of grunge.
While this band has flown fairly under the radar, their killer sound has not gone unnoticed. They've been featured in everything from Monday Night Football ad campaigns to one the finale of one of my own fav shows- Animal Kingdom. Currently touring in the states, if you're reading this south of the border I'd highly recommend checking these guys out.
Formed in 2015 in Oshawa, Ontario
Here's a band with a beautiful purpose- to tell the dark history of Indigenous peoples in Canada and how their land was stolen from them. It's a torch they hope to carry through out their music- to tell the story and change the future.
In terms of sound, Crown Lands have a killer one. Reminiscent of some of the greatest rock n' roll bands like Rush and Led Zeppelin, they've still managed to forge their own path and unique sound nonetheless.
Tegan and Sara
Formed in 1998 in Calgary, Alberta
Tegan and Sara were my jam in high school and they still are. Not only are they a duo but they're two rad twins blazing a path that combines rock and pop seamlessly, strangely and easily. With nine albums under their belt, T&S have been creating amazing music for a long time and it shows.
Formed in 2010 in Oshawa, Ontario
If down and dirty rock n' roll is what you seek, The Standstills is what you get. This duo just released a new full-length album Badlands this year, adding a touch of psychedelia to their sound. They've also toured with some pretty fantastic bands as of late including Eagles of Death Metal, Our Lady Peace and I Mother Earth.
The Pack ADFormed in 2006 in Vancouver, British Columbia
Psychedelic and dark, The Pack AD tackle major issues in very experimental ways: climate change, political danger and more. Put that on a backdrop of greasy, quirky rock music and you get the Pack AD. Their album Dollhouse puts that at the forefront. Check out my interview with the band.
JapandroidsFormed in 2006 in Vancouver, British Columbia
Meeting at university in Victoria, B.C. Brian King and David Prowse struck up Japandroids there and haven't looked back since. With a punk-infused rock n' roll (with a touch of pop), they're definitely a fun one to listen to. Unlike anything else on the radio right now, their screaming vocals and tight drumming leave little to be desired.
Formed in 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia
Whoever said working with family is a bad idea has never listened to the rich, rock goodness that is Dear Rouge. Made up of husband and wife duo Drew and Danielle McTaggart, Dear Rouge is an electric fusion of rock and electronica that makes for some fantastic ear candy. Yes please.
Whitehorse Formed in 2011 in Hamilton, Ontario
Speaking of married duos, let’s talk Whitehorse. These folk-rock love birds aren’t just a treat for the ears. They also have some serious chops. With a Juno, Polaris Music Prize and three full length albums under their belts, you can bet Whitehorse is here to stay. They even have an EP called The Road to Massey Hall created to commemorate their first performance at the venue. The EP features covers of artists who played there before them. So yeah, these guys are pretty great in my books. Definitely check them out. P.S. If you haven't heard their cover of "I'm on Fire" you're seriously missing out.
Whew. So, are there more than you thought? Who am I missing? Check out the playlist and definitely let me know if there's somebody else you think should be on the list!