The Music Man: Male-female duos are on the rise

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been listening to a lot of new music. (When am I ever not?) A lot of that new music hasn’t been by your typical solo artists or full bands, but rather male-female duos. All of these duos mesh together well, leading to very good music. Here are three that you should be on the lookout for.

Ex Cops

Comprising Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding, Ex Cops appeared on my musical radar after the single “Black Soap.” While I haven’t listened to much of their other material, “Black Soap” left a very good impression. The band makes dark-sounding, guitar-heavy alternative music, with Bruun and Harding feeding off each other’s respective musical styles well. In the end, it’s Bruun’s vocals that seal the deal on the duo’s music, as she sings powerfully with unsurpassed clarity, providing a nice contrast for the duo’s overall style.

Big Data and White Sea

Now, I know what you’re thinking here – this duo only made one song together. Although that’s completely correct, they still deserve mention here. After its first hit, “Dangerous,” I expected a lot from Big Data (an electronic project by producer Alan Wilkis). Wilkis surpassed my expectations with his next single as Big Data, “The Business of Emotion,” with Romanovs vocalist/multi-instrumentalist and frequent M83 collaborator Morgan Kibby’s solo project, White Sea. The song primarily focuses on Wilkis’ production and Kibby’s vocals, but the two do sing together in the chorus and the bridge. Wilkis’ deeper vocals round out the powerful notes Kibby belts out, and the two produce really nice chemistry. Needless to say, I can see many more Big Data/White Sea collaborations in the future.

In The Valley Below

As a musical duo, In The Valley Below is hard to describe. The duo of Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob make dark alternative music somewhat reminiscent of Ex Cops’ style, but their apparent influences are much more varied. Songs like “Stand Up” are upbeat, making use of creative electronic instrumentation and powerhouse vocals. Others, like “Peaches,” are much more laid back and sound almost comparable to indie folk. Both members possess insane vocal talent, with Gail’s haunting voice garnering comparisons to everyone from Fleetwood Mac vocalist Stevie Nicks to Florence Welch, aka the Florence in Florence + the Machine, and Jacob’s voice emulating a mix of Arcade Fire vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Win Butler and Band of Horses vocalist/guitarist Ben Bridwell. These blends surprisingly work well together, with Gail’s subtler vocals giving your ears a second or two to recover from Jacob’s anthemic, loud voice. And if all of this isn’t enough, they also rocked a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

Hopefully these duos can pave the way for many more in the future. Having both male and female vocals in a song helps round out its overall sound and makes it more enjoyable, which is exactly what all three of these duos do. If you haven’t gotten to know these duos’ music, you really should. While you’re at it, you may find a few more male-female duos you like as well.

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