This year sees us spoiled for choice when it comes to breakthrough guitar talent. Here’s our rundown of the best new players we've heard so far...
The latest in a grand lineage of guitar-based Kings, Marcus [pictured, top] has - without exaggeration - the chops to bear that weighty association. Mentored by ‘Uncle’ Warren Haynes, he was personally tipped to us by Kenny Wayne Shepherd and leads a band of formidable players that seem able to turn on a dime from Miles Davis jazz jam to blues and searing Southern rock.
“Guitar has always been an extension of my thoughts without having to put it into words,” says Marcus. “It’s a form of meditation allowing my mind to cut off and to speak through the instrument.” Players often say this sort of thing and it’s often nonsense, but before you scoff, listen to the live medley on 2017’s Due North EP and you’ll hear the truth in this statement. A new King is born? We think so.
Gear: Gibson ES-345, Fender Super Reverb, AmpRX BrownBox
Hear: Slip Back
The one-man band has been elevated to new heights lately, but behind the loopers and pads, there usually lies an unremarkable musician. Australian songwriter Tash Sultana brings a widescreen pizazz to the format. Her sprawling, expertly weighted amalgamations of hip hop beats, soothing synth pads and foil-wrapped shimmering tones, give way to surprising bursts of scuzzy, shred-y solos, creating an exhilarating contrast to her breathy vocals. A talent that doesn’t decay with the delay pedal.
Gear: Fender Richie Kotzen Tele, Fender Blues Junior Amp
Jason Taylor Brown
Queen Zee & The Sasstones
If it’s not self-evident why 2018 Britain needs Liverpool’s Queen Zee and The Sasstones, the comment “shouldn’t be aloud” - left under their BBC Introducing YouTube vid - unintentionally says plenty. The Liverpool punk rockers offer a cauterising, incendiary reaction to a rotten state of affairs. Taylor Brown is the songwriting, guitar-wailing savvy - crafting debauched, distorted rock ’n’ roll solos betwixt the raw expression of band leader Queen Zee’s powerful, Manson-like vocals. Aloud and proud.
Gear: Fender CIJ Jaguar, Twin Reverb
Hear: Idle Crown
Scott Vincent Abbott
Birmingham’s Table Scraps add a grunge-y Midlands mud to the garage rock sound established by the likes of 13th Floor Elevators and The Cramps. Guitarist Scott sticks to a “three-pedal limit”, using a Death By Audio Fuzz War (“a versatile monster”), Echo Dream 2 and Boss DD-3 to jarring effect to create freaky, DC59’d melodic lead bursts. As Scott says: “Once you try 12-string everything else only sounds half as good.”
Gear: 90s Danelectro DC59 12-string, Vox AC30
Hear: My Obsession
Greta Van Fleet
If you pine for the days when giants scarred the earth with odes to their arena-sized wangs, then Michigan’s Greta Van Fleet are your new jam. Not only do they look like they’ve stumbled out of the pages of 70s Vogue, they also have a preternatural knack for brow-raising classic rock anthems. Guitarist Jake Kiszka is highly capable, combining Page-like pentatonic ping-pong with a bag of lead licks that channel everyone from Jefferson Airplane to Mike Campbell.
Gear: 1961 Gibson SG, 30-watt Marshall Astoria
Hear: Safari Song
Aled Evans and Rhys Wilcox
For a relatively new band, Dream State have - in industry parlance - gained some serious frigging traction, playing Reading/Leeds last year, gobbling up streams in the millions and signing to hardcore label par excellence UNFD. Lead guitarist Aled does a deft line in a tapped arpeggio, while breakthrough single White Lies covers a hell of a lot of ground in its four minute runtime - combining Marmozets’ urgency in its opening and Deftones’ dynamics at the close.
Gear: Aled - Fender Tele HH, Laney Ironheart. Rhys - Ibanez Roadcore, Victory Kraken
Hear: White Lies
Bobby Pook and Simon Morgan
Blanket’s richly interwoven cinematic ambient rock has rapidly evolved since last year’s debut EP Our Brief Encounters. We have had a sneak preview of their new material and can confirm it is a sizeable slab of Big Rock that will induce palm-sweat from fans of Lonely The Brave, Nordic Giants and This Will Destroy You. Guitarists Bobby and Simon - the duo at the heart of this sound - are masters of catharsis, bonding warm, cascading lines into structures of true grandeur.
Gear: Bobby - Fender Jaguar, Blues Deluxe. Simon - Fender Jazzmaster, Orange Tiny Terror
Brady Deeprose and Dan Nightingale
The heaviest heffalumps in this year’s roundup, share a few strands of DNA with early Mastodon, blending bludgeon and benign in ambitious and unpredictable ways. Brady Deeprose and Dan Nightingale form the two-pronged guitar attack, leading these lofty compositions from blast-beaten brutality to doom-y sludge and back again. Their debut album Mire was released last month and is the sort of fully-formed statement that requires metallers to pack a spare pair of pants.
Gear: Brady - ESP V300, Engl Powerball. Dan - Fender Jazzmaster, EVH 5150 III.
Hear: The Mire
Those of you familiar with Van William’s former bands Waters and Port O’Brien, will have suspicions about what to expect from the songwriter’s debut solo material: boisterous, vibrant hooks that are easy to swallow but gut you on their way back out. His latest incarnation represents a bounce back after a period of personal tumult. Two parts power pop bombast, to one part Americana, William’s maturation as a songwriter and guitarist seems to have hit a new high water mark.
Gear: Fender CD-320AS, Telecaster HH, Fender Deluxe reverb
Hear: Never Had Enough Of You
The Bad Flowers
Midlands trio The Bad Flowers make a concise, bruising power-blues that will appeal to fans of the likes of Jared James Nichols and Blues Pills, both of whom have offered TBF support slots. September single Thunder Child is the first shot fired from their forthcoming debut Starting Gun and packs an uproarious solo that leaves TG reaching for our wah pedal. Think Rory Gallagher through AC/DC’s amp stack and you’re near Tom’s bar-fight-scrapping lead sound.
Gear: Gibson Les Paul Standard, Orange OR50
Hear: Thunder Child