Before we jump into this post I would like to clarify that these views are my own and this post is reflective of my own thoughts and not all members of this blog. Thank you and I hope you enjoy!
The music industry today is changing faster than it ever has. New talent surfaces on a regular basis and more and more artists are finding fame in rich fortunes. Yet an underlying question has been on peoples lips over the last few years, that being, “is guitar music dead?”
Now it’s a bold statement. Saying that guitar music is dead is like saying the Earth is flat. (insert Ed Miliband) “Its just wrong”.
Whilst recently scouring the internet i cam across an article from the ‘i’ newspaper which stated “are guitar bands officially dead?”.Well Mr Adam Sherwin I am here to tell you wrong.
It is very clear to see how this question has surfaced. You only need to look at the charts and popular music to see the effect of rap and hip-hop, RnB and pop music. It is a domain dominated by the likes of Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Ed Sheeran, Post Malone, Rihanna and new comers Dua Lipa, SZA and Stormzy. The amount of talent is in abundance, theres no question about it. But the real question is, where are all the bands?
Rock and guitar music in general does find its way to the top. Foo Fighters are a clear example of this getting regular air time on radio shows like Radio 1. Muse are another example and so are Arctic Monkeys, who have returned to the masses for the first time in 4 years. These massive, globally acclaimed artists popularity will never fade. They will always sit on top of the guitar music tree.
Music is however, dominated by pop music and rap. This is evidently clear in America when it was announced that for the first time ever Hip-hop surpassed rock music as the most popular genre of music. People were quick to react by saying “rock is dead”, when in reality it really isn’t… and it never will die.
Repetitiveness in British indie
First of all, the United Kingdoms guitar music scene is thriving and its easy to see why, even if you aren’t a fan! Indie heroes Foals, Two Door Cinema Club, alt-J, Kasabian and Liam Gallagher are leading the light for indie guitar music from the UK in recent years. These acts find themselves high up on festival bills, get regular radio play and pull impressive crowds across the globe.
Yet the British indie scene is seeing some repetitiveness. Bands like The Sherlocks, The Hunna and Catfish and the Bottlemen are what I like to call “recycled indie lad bands”. These acts are, in my view, examples of showing a lack of creativity. Yes, there is no denying their inflicting and dedicated attitude and talent, die hard fans and ever growing scene of music, yet I personally cannot see progress in a larger picture within these artists, and with The Sherlocks saying “I think we could be the pioneers of guitar music” it really makes me question whether or not these guys are taking it seriously when it comes to evolution, originality or distinctiveness because these are the things you need to do to be “pioneers”.
Bands like feel good trio The Wombats have stuck to their routes through thick and thin, with their first three albums featuring tracks that soundtrack any indie playlist or party. Yet their recent fourth record sounds like they are running out of ideas and failed to meet the heights of their previous three. This is a major issue. The lack of creativity within some bands, and artists scared to jump into the fog of the unknown is proving a risk they do not want to take.
These artists in my eyes are spawning an endless of wave of music that is just going to sound the same. Bland, repetitive and not giving anything new. Im going to use Blossoms as an example of positive change. The Stockport indie five piece burst onto the scene with their debut album in 2016 and its very, very clear to see why. Blossoms hit the indie sweet spot with their sound. Blending in 60’s psych, moody synths and they characterised themselves with this sound. It’s feel good, fresh indie, which I vouch for. Their sound is a gigantic leap from the typical indie sounds of Catfish, The Sherlocks and The Hunna.
The plethora of new talent that is forming around the British isles has never been so varied. Bands such as Idles, The Big Moon, Shame, Husky Loops, Gengahr, Girl Ray, FEWS, Hookworms, Goat Girl and more are proving that guitar music isn’t dead by creating fresh sounds which have caught the attention of the masses.
Idles, Husky Loops and FEWS have been my personal favourite new acts in the past few years. With Idles, we get a rigorous cross between post punk and punk. Its witty, deadley and in your face. The way it should be. FEWS have an 80’s post punk feel with elements of Interpol swirled into the mix. Its energetic and enthralling, making it dark, gloomy yet highly enjoyable. Husky Loops are one of the most exciting live acts in the country. Their usage of fast paced bass lines and in your face riffs and incredibly talented musicianship makes Husk Loops captivating and brilliant.
Bands like The Big Moon have also caught the attention of not just me, but thousands of young music fans across the country. They burst onto the scene, and were nominated for a Mercury Prize for their debut album ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’. This is just one example of a success story from a new wave of indie talent which are branching away from that typical recycled energy I have previously mentioned.
Lets start with Japan. The Japanese psych/alt rock scene is booming at this moment in time. Artists such as Kikagaku Moyo, Bo Ningen, Nissennemondai, Boredoms and more are striving in this scene. The neo-psychadelic noise is being echoed across the world with these artists given festival slots from festivals in the UK and America.
Australia is also seeing a prominent influx of guitar talent. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is a very obvious and clear example of this. Their thrashing psych sound has caught the attention of all 4 corners of the world and with their prolific releases and evidently experimental sounds, King Gizzard are band that are on everyones lips. Other Aussie acts include Courtney Barnett, Pond, ORB, The Murlocs, GUM and more…
Europe is also seeing a resurgence in guitar music. Spanish band Hinds are leading this charge with artists such as FEWS, INVSN, Holograms, Amber Arcades, Palace Winter, The Parrots to name a few are surfacing out of mainland Europe and have gained praise and popularity across not just Britain, but the whole world.
America is our final destination on this tour of the world. The range of talent here is unthinkable and young artists are proving the world wrong when it comes to guitar music. The more established head waits of The National, The War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Fleet Foxes, Alvvays and Car Seat Headrest yet there is a plethora of exciting new talent emerging out of the states. Most Noticeably Soccer Mommy. Her bedroom pop and teenage attitude is catching the hearts and ears from around the world and she is set to become one of the worlds most precious artists. Other acts include, Day Wave, Snail Mail, Hazel English, Jay Som, Japanese Breakfast, Launder, Whitney and more.
Hopefully I have made my point clear. It is curiosity that is key when searching for acts and artists. The wealth of riches in musical talent doesn’t stop at our shores. It is bright, distinct and global. Look past the white cliffs and broaden your horizons. You may just find your new favourite guitar band.
Here is a link to a playlist with all the acts mentioned above if you fancy checking any of them out!
I’ll just let Alex Turner sum everything up right here. And as always, thanks for reading.
“It might hibernate from time to time and sink back into the swamp. I think the cyclical nature of the universe in which it exists demands it adheres to some of its rules. But it’s always waiting there, just around the corner, ready to make its way back through the sludge and smash through the glass ceiling, looking better than ever… but it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it.” – Alex Turner
Words by Piran Aston
Featured image courtesy of Jacob Winters