The 14 best new guitarists in the world right now
14. Jules Jackson, Soph Nathan (The Big Moon)
The MusicRadar/Total Guitar Best in guitars 2017 polls have received over 136,000 votes, and we're now ready to roll out the winners. The nominees were what we considered to be the guitarists and guitar gear that have excelled in 2017. Here, we present the best new guitarists of 2017. First up we have Jules Jackson and Soph Nathan of The Big Moon...
2017 highlight: Frontwoman Jules Jackson names Joey Santiago and Graham Coxon as key influences on her catchy playing style, and paired with fellow guitarist Soph Nathan, the two produce a sound that’s full of gritty tones, bittersweet vocals and finely honed songwriting craft.
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13. Barns Courtney
2017 highlight: As part of indie bands SleeperCell and Dive Bella Dive, Barns Courtney has been through it all: major label signings, festival slots, then dropped. His return to music as a solo artist has been inspiring, yielding big-production, riff-y anthems that will catch the ears of Muse and Foo Fighters fans.
12. Aaron Gossett (Blis.)
2017 highlight: Atlanta, Georgia trio Blis. sound every bit as vital as the alt-rock acts they echo, with big guitar hooks that recall Pixies in their prime. Aaron Gossett is the man with the plan, wielding chunky tones via a ’72 Deluxe Reissue Tele bolted to an Electrical Guitar Company aluminium neck. Heavy.
11. Aaron Keylock
2017 highlight: Debut album Cut Against The Grain confirmed Aaron Keylock’s already stellar reputation as one of the players spearheading the future of British blues. A dab hand with a slide, Aaron’s sound touches on Johnny Winter and Black Crowes with nods to the likes of Jack White and even Kings Of Leon, ensuring he spans all the blues-rock bases.
10. Henry Carlyle Wade (The Orielles)
2017 highlight: This offset-wielding six-stringer had our indie hero senses tingling this year with massive singles Let Your Dogtooth Grow and Sugar Tastes Like Salt. Some nifty modulation work and utterly addictive melodies make Mr Wade one to watch.
9. Stevie McMinn (Mt. Wolf)
2017 highlight: While Mt. Wolf’s sound is built upon a bedrock of flittering electronics and chiming acoustic guitars, Stevie McMinn’s playing is full of light and shade. Have a proper listen to debut Aetherlight and you’ll note the guitarist’s nifty clean tapping licks, big distorted blasts and waves of tremolo picking. It’s post-folk-rock, if you will.
8. Jen Hingley (False Advertising)
2017 highlight: The sound of the ’90s is alive and well with Manchester-based fuzz lovers False Advertising. Guitarist Jen Hingley lays down thick octave riffs and chiming chords with the best of them, catalogued on EP I Would Be So Much Happier If I Just Stopped Caring. Amen to that.
7. Mark Holley (Black Foxxes)
2017 highlight: A multi-amp rig gives Black Foxxes frontman Mark Holley a gargantuan, overdrive-meets-distortion tone, demonstrated on live dates this year, but the songwriting on debut I’m Not Well is just as impressive as the sonic textures Mark wrings from his Manson T-type. Spoiler alert: next year’s Reiði (still not sure how to pronounce that one) is going to blow your socks off.
6. Erik Bickerstaffe (Loathe)
2017 highlight: Squier's Baritone Jazzmaster has never sounded heavier than on Loathe guitarist Erik Bickerstaffe’s frantic, guttural riffs. The Cold Sun is this year’s debut album from the math-y Liverpudlian metallers, and it’s awash with extended chords, rapid-fire runs and harmonic ingenuity.
Squier’s Baritone Jazzmaster has never sounded heavier than in this Loathe guitar playthrough (opens in new tab)
5. Samuel Organ (The Physics House Band)
2017 highlight: There’s a reason everyone in the UK post-rock scene is raving about The Physics House Band: blending just about every genre under the sun, from Mars Volta-style prog to jazz, electronica and tech-metal, Samuel Organ is one of the country’s most exciting instrumental players. So much so, notoriously curmudgeonly comedian Stewart Lee wrote the band’s press release.
4. Charlie Cunningham
2017 highlight: This Bedfordshire singer-songwriter opened for Lucy Rose and has won plaudits from Elton John – and after one listen to his brand of ambient folk, it’s easy to see why. An idiosyncratic percussive nylon-string player, his first album, Lines, capably stands out from the acoustic crowd.
3. Stijn Vanhoegaerden (Brutus)
2017 highlight: Belgium’s Brutus made a name for themselves with the potent blend of punk and indie showcased on Burst. Guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden cites Johnny Marr as a key influence on his all-encompassing playing, which elevates the three-piece’s sound to arena-ready heights.
2. Mark Bowen, Lee Kiernan (Idles)
2017 highlight: “I’m interested in the way the sound is expressed,” Idles guitarist Mark Bowen told us. “And that expressiveness is a bit like those therapies where people dress as animals and defecate on floors.” This uncompromising approach to the Bristol band’s punk guitar aesthetic has won Bowen and his co-axeman Lee Kiernan plenty of fans, including Foo Fighters, who the band supported at the O2 Arena this year, following the success of debut Brutalism.
On The Radar: Idles (opens in new tab)
WINNER: Chris Buck
2017 highlight: It's like something out of a dream: Slash invites you up onstage, then brands you a “fucking awesome guitarist”. Yet that's exactly what happened to South Wales axe-slinger Chris Buck back in 2012, and his star has been rising ever since. With Buck & Evans, Chris channels the sound and playing of '70s heavyweights like Fleetwood Mac, and their debut album is due to land next year. It's an exciting time for this exceptional young player.