Billy + Joe is the duo of Vancouver-based songwriter Billy the Kid and Richmond’s Joe McMahon, who fronts the rock band Smoke or Fire. Their first collaborative project was a youtube onslaught of 31 cover songs in 31 days this past January. Now, they’ve released their first batch of original songs–the Breathe EP. You should listen to it.

They make such interesting partners–Billy’s songs sound a little like a Smoke or Fire singalong anthem, and Joe’s songs seem to owe a lot to Billy the Kid’s bedroom chorales. The back-and-forth between them isn’t cheap lust, it’s total respect–like a Gaye/Terrell duet. They bring out the best in each other, they make riskier choices on this EP than in their solo work. It’s rare to hear a duo wherein both the male and female voices can be both muscly and vulnerable. It makes for a balanced album and a ton of great choruses. Listen to this if you like Archers of Loaf or Aimee Mann or if you know what’s good for you.

Billy + Joe – Blood
Billy + Joe – Falling
Billy + Joe – Whiskey

Buy Breathe on iTunes, keep up with Billy + Joe on Facebook, and watch all their videos, including the 31 cover songs (which prove to be one hell of a punk rock oral history), on the billyplusjoe youtube channel.

Author: Mike Ostrov

Mike Ostrov relays the history of popular song on message boards and under rocks.

One thought on “BILLY + JOE — BREATHE”

  1. I saw them last week when they opened up for Tim Barry, I’ve been a fan of Smoke or Fire for a while now and this was something different that was pretty good.

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