From blues bumpers and metal grinders, to indie heart-throbs and rock gods in-the-making, here are the dazzling, daring and down-right jaw-dropping players worthy of your delectation in 2016...
Joe Langridge-Brown and Dom Craik
If you have ears, you may have noticed Nothing But Thieves’ first record ram-raiding the top ten back in October - a pleasant surprise for the five-piece, to put it mildly.
“I think we celebrated for three days straight!” guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown tells TG. “My first reaction was: ‘Christ!’ adds co-guitarist Dom Craik. “And then: ‘Where’s the nearest offy?’”
Though the band’s place in the big leagues might seem like a sudden development, they’ve spent years honing their unique sound.
“Dom was classically trained from like conception!” explains Joe. “So all of the clean and more technical stuff is him. He plays a Tele and a Vox, whereas I’m the Marshall and Les Paul guy - the soundscapes and weird delays - and that’s how we kind of define it.”
It’s a pretty modest explanation of a playing relationship that looks likely to take the band to international success - something both guitarists are still coming to terms with.
“Just looking at poster of your tour dates where every one is sold out is quite special,” marvels Dom. “That took us back a bit!”
Joe’s equally reflective. “Not so long ago we played York and it was us, the sound guy and - no joke - one man and his dog. And the bastard left! To go from that to selling-out an 800-cap venue abroad is a really nice feeling.”
For fans of: Jeff Buckley, Muse, Twin Atlantic
More info: www.nbthieves.com
The outlook in 2016 for Brighton’s Black Peaks is positive, to say the least. Since we last spoke, the band have signed to rock behemoth Sony RED and their radio champion Zane Lowe has teamed-up with a little firm called Apple.
“We were worried when Zane Lowe moved,” admits guitarist Joe. “But then he got on Beats 1 and just started playing our track with all these gunshots and explosions behind it!”
Fears allayed, the band’s first album drops in April - and we're already salivating. “There’s a track called Set In Stone,” Joe reveals. “It’s got this solo at the end that I can’t wait for people to hear.”
He’s not alone on that. Roll on April, we say…
For fans of: Oceansize, Muse
More info: www.facebook.com/blackpeaks
“All of my earliest memories are listening to music,” says Aaron Keylock. “I guess I knew from a very early age I wanted to play guitar.”
You’re telling us. Still in his teens, Aaron has already played sets at Download and shows with Blackberry Smoke and Cadillac Three, modelled for Dior and moved Blues magazine to proclaim that “the search for your next guitar hero stops here”.
We caught his set at Dot To Dot earlier this year and walked away with our brain thoroughly shaken - though that may well have been due to his insistence on cranking his Marshall half stack in a basement bar.
2016 will see the release of his Provogue/Mascot-backed debut album and all hell breaking loose.
For fans of: Jared James Nichols
More info: www.aaronkeylock.com
It’s been too long since we’ve heard a player in the indie rock sphere as unique as Olly Perry, AKA 4AD’s one-man wunderkind D.D Dumbo.
“I don’t have too many guitar heroes or heroines,” the Australian songwriter tells TG. “But I did go through a Jimi Hendrix phase and I dig desert blues stuff like Ali Farke Toure - and also most of Captain Beefheart’s guitarists.”
It’s a modest, but mouth-watering palette of players. Channeling his Kinsman-equipped 12-string Danelectro through a variety of EHX octave and reverb pedals, Olly’s hypnotic style recalls those Malian maestros, but would be at home tracking a Lynch flick.
Get a taster of D.D Dumbo’s one-man, loopy live show in his Tropical Oceans [Oak Forest Version] video.
For fans of: Malian desert rock, Mylets
More info: www.facebook.com/dddumbo/
A leading light in the metalcore night...
Hailing from Paris and signed to Nuclear Blast imprint Arising Empire, Novelists are a modern metal act that combine the seismically-shifting rhythms of djent and brutal beat-downs.
Guitarist Florestan is their secret weapon: a skilled player who conjures spirited lead lines from dark places.
For fans of: BMTH, Trivium
More info: www.facebook.com/NovelistsMusic/
London power trio riff, rinse, repeat...
Josh Homme’s greasy guitar tone is a sticking point for many modern rockers, but in their debut EP Majick Potion Leogun have combined it with Jane’s Addiction just-washed freshness and some sizeable Royal Blood stains. Tommy Smith is a riff launderer of the highest measure.
For fans of: Jane’s Addiction, QOTSA
More info: www.facebook.com/LeogunBand/
A harmonious melding of melody and musicianship...
Croydon’s Press To Meco recently dropped debut album Good Intent - a collection of melodic rock riffage, harmony vocals and dynamic duality.
We hear a little of Jimmy Eat World’s rough-pop in Luke’s contagious compositions, but there’s also a complexity that recalls rock lunatics Dananananaykroyd.
For fans of: Dananananaykroyd, Arcane Roots
More info: www.presstomeco.com
Heavy rock for hipsters?
Think of Brooklyn’s Highly Suspect as the US’ answer to Royal Blood - a darkly powerful, heavy-riffing rawk band that have nonetheless been adopted by their hometown’s scenesters.
Guitarist Johnny Stevens, simple but savage style lays Soundgarden-esque slabs over the Meyer brothers’ twin-powered rhythm section.
For fans of: Soundgarden, Kings Of Leon, Royal Blood
More info: www.facebook.com/HighlySuspect/
Blaine Thompson and Scott Coupar
POG-powered post-rock hopes...
Post-rock types love their stompboxes and it would seem Glaswegian’s VASA offer little exception to this rule. Like luminaries Maybeshewill and ASIWUFA, VASA are all about carefully constructed instrumental atmospherics, but guitarists Blaine and Scott accomplish this with a pacy and vicious economy.
For fans of: Maybeshewill, Adebisi Shank
More info: vasa.bandcamp.com
British folkie penning epic electric odes...
Her music may be rooted in pan-Atlantic folk, but your as likely to find Northamptonshire’s Charlotte Carpenter channeling a Tele for her spacious Americana.
Marika Hackman’s a fan and the expansive writing on recent fifth EP The Fault Line evidences a newfound self-assurance.
For fans of: Laura Marling, Daughter
More info: www.facebook.com/charlottecarpentermusic/
Phil Jones and Ali Epstone
Riding the Weezer wave...
Spanning expanse between Sydney and Leeds, six-string songwriters Phil and Ali only recorded together for the first time when they met up to lay down their forthcoming self-titled album.Their output is imbued with a fat, weary Weezer-iness that we just can’t stop huffing.
More info: www.facebook.com/blacksurfmusic
For fans of: Weezer, Manchester Orchestra
More info: www.facebook.com/blacksurfmusic
Mario Camarena and Erick Hansel
West coast wizards conjuring prog spells...
San Diegan Sumerian signees Chon craft psychedelic, sunshine-laden prog rock. There’s jazz here, but not the kind that leads to excessive chin-wear, while guitarists Mario Camarena and Erick Hansel write lines that knit together in flashes of colourful expression and dream-like transformations.
For fans of: Animals As Leaders
More info: www.facebook.com/musicofchon/
Ruben Gallego and James Alex
Taking over from the extinguished Gaslight...
Philadelphia four-piece Beach Slang take their initial from the modern American songbook beamed left of the dial across 90s college radio.
The influence of The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg is clear on guitarists James and Ruben, but you can’t fake their liberating wholegrain rock ’n’ roll.
For fans: The Gaslight Anthem, The Replacements, Jawbreaker
More info: www.facebook.com/beachslang/
Southern man crosses over...
Something is happening in Nashville. Local bands are championing their southern roots and melding them with beefy, scuzz rock tones. First it was Cadillac Three, next up is A Thousand Horses, who’s lead guitarist Bill Satcher could be a southern Slash in-the-making.
For fans of: Cadillac Three, Blackberry Smoke
More info: www.athousandhorses.com
Hubba hubba for The Hunna...
The Hunna sound like Catfish (and have a similar ear for a massive choruses - e.g. Bonfire), but likely eat more vegetables than Van McCann.
Guitarist Dan also does a killer line in epic Edge-like delay tones. Expect them to plaster teenage walls imminently.
For fans of: Catfish And The Bottlemen, The 1975
More info: www.facebook.com/thehunnaband
Jen Hingley and Chris Warr
Killer grungers that aren’t trading standards...
Many bands have embraced grunge’s more appealing side lately, but False Advertising bathe in the backlash: think In Utero with the ugly bits emphasised.
Their crisp, self-titled debut is awesome surprise - as are Jen and Chris’ live guitar-swapping theatrics.
For fans of: late Nirvana, Yuck
More info: www.falseadvertising.co
’Snot pop’? ‘Flaccid-house’? Whatever, we’re intrigued…
Brit-pop revival might, quite literally, be old hat, but there’s something about the gaudy Oasis-meets-hair-metal vibe of Manchester’s Flesh that makes us shake.
Lead guitarist Jon Burgess busts filthy chorus-laden leads and tracks like Vauxhall Casanova are harder to shift than kebab grease.
For fans of: Oasis, Suede
More info: www.luvflesh.co.uk
A blues blasting from JoBo’s new favourite find...
When Joe Bonamassa tips a player to a label and dubs them ‘one of the best out there right now’, TG tends to give it a cursory spin. JD Simo did not disappoint: he’s a fiery bluesman, tougher than his benefactor, and only just getting started.
For fans of: SRV, Joe Bonamassa
More info: www.simo.fm
UK alt rock supergroup’s ‘hard as…’ take on drone...
Featuring (ex-)members of Future Of The Left, Hawk Eyes, Oceansize and Kong, this London band have a ridiculous pedigree, which they gleefully mash together as USA Nails. Gareth Thomas’ droning guitar is total ear candy on for those after a kraut-rock kicking.
For fans of: Future Of The Left, Destruction Unit
More info: www.facebook.com/usanailsband/
One-man weaponised force in progressive playing...
The Petrucci-tight gymnastic guitar of Pomegranate Tiger, AKA Martin Andres, is rendered all the more impressive when you realise he’s a multi-instrumentalist covering nearly all of his album’s instrumental and production bases. It’s even self-released. Advanced technical guitar craft - and then some.
For fans of: Between The Buried And Me, Dream Theater
More info: pomegranatetiger.bandcamp.com