The White Stripes
Who? Detroit band consisting of Jack White and Meg White.
What? A blues and garage rock blend.
Why we like them?: Their raw energy, crunchy distortion and signature low-fi sound.
Jack White writes really memorable riffs, which drive many of their tracks. A great example is Seven Nation Army. A song everyone knows even if they don't listen to the White Stripes, due to the instantly recognisable bassline!
As well as his memorable riffs and guitar skills, Jack White is an interesting performer and isn’t afraid to experiment using different instruments. The synthesiser in Icky Thump gives the track an edgier, psychedelic blues sound. While in The Nurse, they use a marimba - a percussion instrument developed in Central America - giving the track a different feel. What’s more, his raspy and emotional vocals are a nice compliment to the instrumentation.
Meg White's drumming is simple but then again we feel the White Stripes don't need crazy embellished drum parts. She keeps the music pulsing forward and captures the feelings with her beats. In The Cold Cold Night we get to hear Meg's down to earth vocals. Her gentle honeysweet voice leaves us wishing she sung more often. Sadly the duo split in 2011.
Our favourite track: Dead leaves and the Dirty Ground, we particularly like the opening riff.
First Aid Kit
Who? A Swedish folk duo consisting of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg who gained popularity after posting a video of a fleet foxes cover online.
What? Acoustic, indie-folk, with a dash of country influence.
Why we like them? Although First Aid Kit make use of the typical 4 chord patterns, they make these interesting with intricate guitar licks and melodies, lush string sections, and foot tapping rhythms, such as the pounding tom drum in Wolf. While they are predominantly folk-inspired, they play around with genres; in Emmylou, there is a real country influence with the inclusion of the slide guitar part. Likewise, their tight, sweet harmonies and smooth melodic voices are pleasure to listen to.
They always convey emotions in their singing, wearing their heart on their sleeves. We love hearing their harmonies and are glad that they keep them going throughout the track! When you listen to their songs, you can see why they’re one of our favourite duos and why they inspire us in our own writing.
Our favourite track: Silver Lining - we love the melody and fast plucking pattern and the string section which backs it up.
Simon & Garfunkel
Who? New York duo consisting of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel who rose to success in the 1960’s.
What? Folk-rock, but the duo experimented with different styles, even incorporating latin and gospel into their music.
Why we like them? With their harmonies, polished sound and lyrical ability, Simon & Garfunkel produced haunting sounds with their voices. Their harmonies are magical and you can hear the traditional folk inspired elements in their music.
Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics are poetic, focusing on storytelling and the real gritty realities of daily life. The Boxer conveys frustration and sadness of a young man, hoping for more out of life. Their songs convey imagery and symbolism and keeps us questioning the meaning behind the words.
Such lyrics attracted the young subculture of the time, yet still appeals to a substantial audience today.
Our favourite track: The Sound of Silence, a calm, yet thoughtful number allowing for reflection.
Who? Alabama duo consisting of sisters Allison and Catherine Pierce. Currently on Hiatus.
What? Pop, rock, psychedelic, indie inspired folk.
Why we like them? I don't think there is a single Pierces track we don't like! They have acted as inspiration for our music.
We were lucky enough to see them at Union Chapel, where they played with a band. They played a really intimate set and connected well with the audience.
Many of their songs centre around love and loss, yet the Pierces do deliver variety in their lyrical topics. With quirky numbers such as Boring, which mocks the celebrity lifestyle and Secret, a much darker track and the more dancey numbers such as Boy in a rock and roll band. The Pierces never fail to disappoint when it comes to melodrama and storytelling.
Their latest album, Kings, delivers an 80's Fleetwood Mac- esque feel. The Pierces voices are individually different but together they blend well effortlessly. All in all, the Pierces are a tight, well polished duo whose albums differ each time, yet all will take you on a music journey.
Our favourite track: Kissing you Goodbye; it has a catchy 1960's sound we love.
The Civil Wars
Who? American duo consisting of John White and Joy Williams who sadly split in 2014.
What? Americana, blues and country blend.
Why we like them? Their country-gothic sound, haunting harmonies and intriguing lyrics.
The Civil Wars have a unique sound, encompassing blues, americana and country. They play in a retro style which transports you to the deep American south.
The blend of their voices really works; his low raspy register with her smooth soprano vocals. Their lyrics often tell tales; full of drama and mystery and encompass some rather dark themes, for example, Barton Hollow - a tale of a probable murder and the protagonist running from his guilt.
Their dark sound is mirrored by the instrumentation and technique; drop D and palm muted guitar, harmonies a fifth apart, and the use of minor keys.
The Civil Wars are skilled at taking songs and covering them in their own style; for example trip-hop band Portishead’s Sour Times which they cover with an acoustic guitar, changing the sound completely. In fact, virtually all their songs are acoustic, or mainly acoustic, much like our own tracks.
Our favourite track: The One That Got Away - It maintains tension until the drop before the chorus - nice!
Shutterstock/ Mat Hayward
Wikimedia Commons/ Christian Düringer
Wikimedia Commons/ Eddie Mallin
Flickr/ Paul Carless
Wikimedia Commons/ Phil King