All in the Family (Bands)

‘Til touring drama do us part.

Or, something like that. Seeing couples, siblings and whole families merge their musical minds and enter into band-lock together is nothing new; close, personal relationships relocating their intimacy and family bond from the living room (or bedroom) and into the studio has been happening for decades, often to the bewilderment of those who couldn’t imagine doing so. Musicians have long defended the struggle of writing, recording and touring with a significant other or family member – arguing that their genetic, romantic or spiritual connectedness enhances the emotional depth of their songs. Anyone who has had a catty sister or my-way-or-the-highway lover might disagree.

While Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon recently called Sonic Youth quits and the Gallagher brothers will forever want to pummel each other – we skeptical outsiders have been proven wrong time and again. Fleetwood Mac penned numerous hits about their hyper-sexed tour shenanigans, Heart recorded some of the most powerful sister rock albums of all-time, the Bee Gees and Beach Boys’ brotherly harmonies grew richer with age and Springsteen and Scialfa still serenade each other nightly. Hanson still look like ladies together. June changed Johnny forever.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the below scroll of siblings and soul mates; hoping that while they take their family show on the road – both the tour bus, and the relationships, don’t go down in flames. Ten favourite contemporary bands bringing family into the mix are…

1. Arcade Fire: Front-couple and co-founders Win and Regine keep their marriage under wraps and disputes off stage – and manage to still successfully pump out some of the most influential indie rock the world has seen in decades.

2. First Aid Kit: These Swedish songbird sisters prove that vocal and harmonic genius can run in the family – performing for the likes of Paul Simon and releasing two collections of their own beautifully heartfelt folk ditties.

3. Kings of Leon: Ah, the Followill family – i.e. every woman’s dream Sunday family dinner. Brothers Nate, Jared, Caleb and cousin Matt have been in it together for over a decade, rebelling against their strict preacher Daddy with twangy Southern-rock anthems and boozy live shows. The claws have publicly come out on a few occasions – but, family life, a weighty discography and red wine have brought them back to each other time and again.

4. Radiohead: Thom Yorke might be the most recognizable face in this legendary alternative rock group, but brothers Colin and Johnny Greenwood have had quite a bit to do with their 30 million albums sold worldwide since first hitting the studio together in 1985 as guitarist and bassist.


5. Tegan and Sara: Born only a few minutes apart some 30 years ago, these Albertan identical twin sisters have also been actively releasing likeable indie pop and rock since 1995 – churning out winning hooks year after year, conquering Greys Anatomy soundtracks and boasting a shared sense of feminism.


6.  Mates of State: First comes marriage, then comes catchy American indie-pop, then comes a few babies. Mod melodies and Brit-pop harmonies are only two of the many fantastic things that have come out of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel’s 14 year union.


7. The National: The equation to one of the greatest bands of our time? Seven profound and timeless rock releases and two sets of brothers amount to one hell of group.

8. Angus and Julia Stone: Bohemian brother and sister folk-pop duo grew up chasing kangas and sunsets together in Australia, and years later are gracing international stages strumming their carefree ballads and sunny melodies.


9. Yo La Tengo: Ira Kaplan formed his quintessential American indie group with wife Georgia Hubley way back in 1984, and to all of their fans comfort, the hip and happy pair are still kicking as a family. Yo La Tengo, which is Spanish for “I have it,” came from some baseball anecdote – but also (according to Kaplan) translates to “I’ve got her.” Cute.


10. Tennis:  This happy-go-lucky surf-pop twosome met while studying together in college and started Tennis after they got back from a seven-month sailing expedition down the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard. The connections that I could make between what the term “love” means in the game of tennis are aplenty, but I’ll refrain – and simply wish the duo luck.


11. The Avett Brothers: Last, but certainly not least, are the sensational folky favourites The Avett Brothers – a festival staple, bouncy bluegrass duo that contains my dream future husband (Scott Avett) and lyricist behind one of my all-time favourite songs, “Laundry Room.” These effortlessly instrument-savvy brothers have rocked the folk music market in recent years with their honest, yesteryear ballads and uppity live performances – boasting a brotherly vocal harmony that gives new meaning to “in tune with each other.”


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