16. Jade Puget (AFI)
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 alternative guitarists of 2017. First up we have Jade Puget of AFI...
2017 highlight: AFI’s star continued to rise in 2017 with the release of the formidable AFI (The Blood Album). As we’ve come to expect, Puget’s hefty riffs lead the way, particular the picked verses of Hidden Knives and the punky chorus on So Beneath You. And the best news? There’s already whispers the Californian goth rockers are working on a follow up!
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15. Mike Einziger (Incubus)
2017 highlight: After a few years navigating their way out of the wilderness, the nu-metal survivors hit back with their eighth album. 8 possessed the fire, creativity and groove we’ve always loved about the Californian band, and Mike Einziger brought his A-game to the sessions (and a truckload of effects, natch).
14. Joshua Third (The Horrors)
2017 highlight: It’s been ten years since the garage goths released their debut album Strange House to much acclaim. A decade later and they’ve transcended the hype and morphed into a band that stands tall on its own. Latest album V was met with high praise, earning The Horrors new fans whilst retaining the spark that made them so special in the first place.
13. Andy Bell, Mark Gardener (Ride)
2017 highlight: Minds were blown when English rockers Ride announced their first new album since 1996. It was a joy hearing ex-Oasis bass player Bell and Mark Gardener back together on Weather Diaries – a wonderful reminder of an awesome musical era, and proof that, regardless of trends, this duo can write great songs. Such is the love for these ‘90s legends, the album even charted at number 11 in the UK.
12. Joff Oddie, Ellie Rowsell (Wolf Alice)
2017 highlight: Ask 100 people what their album of the year was and 99 of them will say Visions Of Life by Wolf Alice (probably). All jokes aside, the second album from the London alt-rockers is ethereal, edgy and grungey in equal measure and earned them a raft of new fans this year. The guitar pairing of Oddie and Rowsell packs a real punch on tracks like Yuk Foo and Formidable Cool.
11. Joe Langridge-Brown, Dominic Craik (Nothing But Thieves)
2017 highlight: We’ve been fans of the Muse-meets-Radiohead sound of Nothing But Thieves ever since they unleashed their self-titled debut album in 2015. Adding a few new influences into the mix, Joe Langridge-Brown and Dominic Craik took the guitar work on this year’s Broken Machine to a whole new level, from the opening heaviosity of I Was Just A Kid, to the sparse, beautiful Soda.
10. Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner (The National)
2017 highlight: The Dessner brothers are the brainchild behind The National’s sombre, pensive rock, writing all the music before deferring to singer Matt Berninger to add his melancholy lyrics. The music is so detailed and rich it’s easy to get lost exploring it. Releasing and touring Sleep Well Beast took up most of the band’s year, and it's one of their most considered, dramatic and impactful albums to date.
9. Omar Rodríguez-López, Keeley Davis (At The Drive-In)
2017 highlight: Despite being released 17 years after Relationship Of Command, At The Drive-In’s fourth album In•ter a•li•a is no less potent than its classic predecessor. Coming off the back of the band’s welcome second-wind, the album is hard-hitting, socially aware and chock-full of exquisite guitar moments from Rodríguez-López and Davis. Don’t leave it another 17 years before the next one, ok lads?
8. Stuart Braithwaite, Barry Burns (Mogwai)
2017 highlight: Can you believe it’s been over 20 years since the Scottish post-rockers first formed? Neither can we. What makes it even more astonishing is that on their ninth album Every Country’s Sun they still found new places to go and new sounds and textures to explore. Reuniting with Dave Fridmann, who produced Rock Action in 2001, must have sparked something in the band.
7. Rivers Cuomo, Brian Bell (Weezer)
2017 highlight: While Feels Like Summer, the lead single from Weezer’s new album Pacific Daydream, divided hardcore fans it became one of the biggest radio hits the band has had since their early 2000s purple patch. Away from the pop leanings of Feels Like Summer, the remainder of the album is bona fide classic Weezer. Mexican Fender and Weekend Woman are just a couple of picks from an album that’s rammed with upbeat, feelgood cuts.
6. Jamie Lenman
2017 highlight: While Lenman’s debut solo double album Muscle Memory was a schizophrenic journey through the ex-Reuben man’s vast tastes, this year’s Devolver was a more refined affair. While it’s impossible to pigeonhole the album’s quirky, far-ranging sound, it’s impossible to deny that Lenman has a genuine talent for riff-writing. Head for Waterloo Teeth or Hell In A Fast Car for immediate proof.
5. Zach Blair, Tim McIlrath (Rise Against)
2017 highlight: Considering the current state of American politics a band like Rise Against has never been more vital, and that was the catalyst for new album Wolves, released in June 2017. The album follows the band’s usual hard-hitting punk formula, but Blair and McIlrath play their parts so well that we wouldn’t want anything different.
4. Annie Clark (St. Vincent)
2017 highlight: Clark once again stamped her authority on the music world with Masseducation, an absolute masterpiece of an album that comfortably crosses the borders between electronica and rock. She’s an incredibly inventive guitar player too. Just check out the the razor-sharp riffage that bursts out of Pills or the driving distortion that sits perfectly underneath Young Lover.
3. Chelsea Wolfe
2017 highlight: We’ve not taken Wolfe’s doom-y Hiss Spin off the MusicRadar stereo since its September release. From the droning, hypnotising opener Spun, to the building crescendo of The Culling, Chelsea Wolfe is a musician who truly knows how to use her instrument to create a mood.
2. Grant Nicholas (Feeder)
2017 highlight: Amazingly Feeder will celebrate 24 years as a band in 2018. During that time Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose have cemented themselves as mainstays of the alternative rock scene, where other acts have imploded or faded away. With his trusty Jazzmaster in tow, Nicholas has written some of the most iconic British rock riffs of the last two decades and, on the evidence of 2016’s All Bright Electric, the talented Welshman still has plenty more left in the tank.
WINNER: Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman (Warpaint)
2017 highlight: Whether you class them as psychedelic rock, prog, or whatever, one thing is clear: Warpaint are an incredibly special band. On their excellent third album Heads Up, released at the end of 2016, Kokal and Wayman recorded some of their most creative, mature and ambitious guitar parts to date. The lush, funky New Song gets our vote for best track on the album, but honourable mentions must go to So Good, By Your Side and Don’t Let Go.