WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2016|
Posted by: Mike Montemarano
Here's a list of songs in which guitar players push the imaginative boundaries of music to the absolute limit and show just how much is possible through the use of six strings, distortion, and crazy pedal boards to create iconic sounds that transcend all sorts of musical conventions and styles.
This Town Needs Guns - "Baboon"
This Town Needs Guns is one of those bands where no matter how good any other musical aspect of the band is, the guitars will undisputably be at the forefront of any song the band releases. This song exemplifies just how much can be done with six strings, and it almost seems unfair that anyone can become this good at classical-influenced guitar to create such wired and elaborate sounds time and time again. It's hard even as a listener to keep up with or comprehend just what Tim Collis is doing on his guitar.
Tera Melos- "Sunburn"
The amped-up psychedelic experience which is Tera Melos is fueled in large part by the drenched, atmospheric, and constantly explosive lead guitar. The lead guitar often reaches points where the soundscapes sound on the verge of blowing out a speaker. Combine that with time signatures which very few are capable of playing at and some jams which sound like Rush and the Beach Boys tried to collaborate on a free form jazz album in fast forward, and Tera Melos is born.
Drive Like Jehu - "Here Come the Rome Plows"
Though the guitar is often sloppy and frantic throughout this track, it certainly adds to the chaos Drive Like Jehu so successfully brings into fruition. The guitar is just so distinguished and has a sound which shows a combination of virtuosity, passion, and sheer terror which so few guitarists can find the perfect balance of. In many ways, Drive Like Jehu gave way to a movement within rock known as "math rock" which concerns itself with crazy time signatures and lead guitar work that was constantly present in Drive Like Jehu's work.
Jon Gomm - "Passionflower"
"Passionflower" by Jon Gomm incorporates some of the strangest acoustic guitar techniques anyone has ever tried to master. The song begins with soloing which really opens up for what the song has in store. About a minute in, he uses the guitar as a percussive instrument while playing. Oh, and what's that? Yeah, he's good at singing too. With just one acoustic guitar he can create some of the fullest sounds possible via one instrument alone. This song is one of the most unorthodox masterpieces out there.
Bad Brains - "Don't Need It"
Dr. Know of Bad Brains was quite possibly one of the most influential guitarists within the punk rock movement. Many describe his guitar playing as having started a movement within the genre itself, and rightly so. The amount of intricacies and solos that flow perfectly arranged within Bad Brains' innovative sound truly push against the walls which confined that was previously defined as being overly simplistic. Even more remarkable was Dr. Know's ability to play flawlessly as the bodies of stage divers and moshers bombarded him, in addition to the on-stage gymnastics of their singer, H.R.
Of all the bands that frequented CBGB's in the 70's, Television is easily one of my favorites. Richard Lloyd's guitar work was constantly at the forefront of their sound, one which was equally as broad as it was ahead of its time. Combining some of the mellowed-out tones reminiscent of the uplifting stuff Keith Richards jammed out to with more spacey, free form and improvised-sounding riffs, Television's distinct sound added some serious vibrancy to the 70's New York rock scene.
Jimi Hendrix - "Star Spangled Banner"
After being awake for three days in a drug-induced mania, Hendrix dropped some riffs that were entirely ahead of his time with his rendition of the national anthem. I know, it's super cliche, everyone's most likely heard it, but he really does showcase his influence as a guitarist who experimented with such heavy distortion and other effects much more so than his contemporaries at the time, and his influence on music can never be understated.
Sunny Day Real Estate - "The Rising Tide"
Dan Hoerner's skills lie in his profound ability to play in a style that is somber, jazzy, and transcendent. While he doesn't shred in the conventional sense, his profoundness lies in the sheer musicianship he's capable of. He easily has one of the strongest influences on the indie music scene of the mid 90s, and is rightfully considered to be at the forefront of the emo side of alternative rock and shoegaze styles. If you ever need music to space out to in a dream-like, half-lucid state, Sunny Day Real Estate is always an excellent choice.
Converge- "Fault and Fracture"
If the hardcore punk put out by Bad Brains isn't noisy and abrasive enough for you, and what interests you is something incredibly dissonant and experimental, Converge may be of your interest. Converge will not be everyone's cup of tea. After finding a middle ground somewhere between technical metal and hardcore, Kurt Ballou began experimenting with otherworldly guitar effects, and distorted tones which made his instrument sound more like a trash compactor than a guitar. If the sound of their lead vocalist's agonized screams alone doesn't shatter one's aesthetic sensibilities, it will come as no shock as to why "Fault and Fracture" is considered one of the most influential songs within the genre at the time. I'm not one to describe most guitar sounds as "absolutely blistering" but if the title ought to fall upon anyone it should be Kurt Ballou of Converge.
The Continuous Battle of Order - "002"
Though this band is currently obscure, they are none the less incredibly unique due to creating some of the most mind-blowing guitar tones and use of effects of any musician ever. This is the future of experimental guitar, and every song has a sort of horrifying postmodern wit as looper pedals create downward spirals of riffs that are constantly evolving and changing entirely. As a two-piece instrumental band, they break every sort of boundary they can imagine two-fold.