So Kasabian’s Serge recently made some pretty interesting comments about the current state of rock music, claiming that the band’s new album is all about “saving guitar music from the abyss- because it’s gone.” Hmm. The word ‘abyss’ surprised me, as that implies guitar music is well and truly dead and gone, when in reality it’s more prominent in current day rock music than ever before. I’ve been out at gigs every weekend of this year so far (no lie), and the amount of sick new bands I’ve seen has been astonishing. To me, the concept of guitar music is referring to the authenticity of rock’n’roll, with the passion and vibrancy and energy of the music coming from loud blaring guitar riffs and rich heavy basslines. Guitar music may seem to have been engulfed by a rise in synthetic/ electronic rock music (for example bands like Blossoms, and ironically Kasabian themselves), but the current rock scene is dominated by these rough DIY guitar rock bands.
This is thanks to a lot of things- politics for example, leading to anger and frustration and subsequently more assertive guitar rock bands, like False Heads or Strange Bones, bringing back a rough 70s punk aura, which was very much so built on this idea of guitar rock. It’s also down to a rise in independent promoters, big shout out especially to Scruff Of The Neck, This Feeling and Double Denim Live. I thought I’d round up my top current guitar bands, who all embody that rock’n’roll rawness and authentic edge which makes guitar music so fucking brilliant. These bands are all small, new upcoming groups and you can support them by following them online, buying their merch and going to their gigs. Get on them now!
This band embody rough DIY punk perfectly, with this pure London punk edge to them. Like bands such as Wonk Unit and Slaves, Mummy are full of blaring riffs and heavy crashing guitar which is explosively mind-blowing. Having seen them live before, it’s the guitar which makes Mummy so sick; it builds up and up and up before crashing down in the heaviest, most brutal way it can do. What Mummy are doing is revitalising what guitar punk rock really is, and they’re intimidating and raucous in doing so.
Top tracks: Hey & Busy Doing Nothing
Fresh off the release of new EP Gutter Press, False Heads have this distorted heaviness reminiscent of early 90s Nirvana, and have this wild abrasive attitude on stage and on record. Luke plays lead guitar with Jake on bass and Barney on drums, and this combination is deadly. The riffs are enthralling, with this immensely powerful mosh pit-esque edge. Riff wise, their music is ridiculously catchy and mesmerising too- which is maybe why I’ve had Gutter Press playing on a loop since its release.
Top tracks: Slew & Twentynothing
An explosive five piece managed by Andy Ross (who only went and discovered Blur), 485C feature two lead guitarists (Dom and Rory), with vocalist Adam occasionally playing rhythm guitar too, all backed up by Sam on bass and Lucas on drums. It’s intricate guitar rock, bringing back a raw 80s guitar rock’n’roll sound. They’re incredibly unique and captivating, with a fantastically meticulous way of playing perfectly in sync as a band. And when the four guitars play together, the heavy intensity and rich vibrancy their sound has is simply mindblowing.
Top tracks: American Walls & Strange Medicine
Politically charged lyrics, staggeringly loud vocals and raucous fucked up riffs come your way with Strange Bones; the band are full of anger and aggression and power, and they channel this in the most heavy gritty way possible. Their riffs are stellar, with an immense heavy bite and pure sense of punk authenticity. Their abrasive riffs are savage and honest and raw, with crazy amped up distortions adding to this punk aggression.
Top tracks: Dead & Spitfire
This band are a pretty last minute addition to this piece, but having seen them live over the weekend at the Windmill in Brixton how could I not include them? The set up of Yes Problem is what’s so enthralling and unique about them. With a huuuge pedal board, the band have one lead guitar and two bass guitars, one of which is played almost as if it’s a lead. This slightly weird combination made for the most gritty, heavy sound I’ve heard in ages; the sound this band produce live is bulky and weighty, full of this aggressive punk power which just ripped the venue to pieces. What a mental sound to hear in such a tiny venue- Yes Problem alone promise a hell of a lot for the future of guitar music.
I saw October Drift live last year, and it’s safe to say I’m yet to recover from it. They have this manic, hectic aura which makes their music all the more intense and vivid and dark. It’s very rich and raw and brooding, with the most aggressive bass ripping through their tracks. Their roaring riffs are really vibrant and filthy and rough, with this nasty unrefined edge which just makes them all the more captivating. To me, it’s the blaring madness of the two lead guitars and rich graphically deep bass which make October Drift such a sick guitar band, especially on stage.
Top tracks: Cinnamon Girl & Cherry Red
Cocky indie rock with a post punk slur would be the best way to describe Londoners King Nun. My reaction the first time hearing them has been the same each time I listen to this group, and it’s one of bewilderment, and a thrilled sense of anxiety almost. Their music puts you on edge, and this comes down to the heavy weighty guitar and those deep fucked up riffs. Latest single Hung Around has one of the most staggering opening riffs I know, with a gritty clever little riff played over the richness of the bass and lead guitar which crash in sync with the drums and vocals. King Nun mix indie rock with post punk, putting a refreshing spin on grungy guitar music.
Top tracks: Hung Around & Tulip
Some of my favourite snaps of guitar bands over the last few months…
… who the fuck says guitar music is dead?!
© All photos Sahera Walker