By Ian Mergelas
1. Daniel Rossen
Best known as one quarter of the indie rock band Grizzly Bear, Daniel Rossen has proven himself to be a compelling musical force through both his incredibly unique guitar style and through his compositional arrangements. Never one to showcase his virtuosity, he has become one of the more underrated guitarists in indie rock, but he nevertheless remains one of the greatest around today.
Best Moment: His incredible guitar work throughout Grizzly Bear’s most recent release, Shields
2. Mac Demarco
Almost playing the role of something of an “anti-heroic” guitar hero, Mac Demarco has cast away almost all traces of proficient technical ability in the search of melodic hooks and relaxing, danceable grooves. With an instantly recognizable jangly, jazzy, slackerish sound, he has become one of rock’s more enigmatic and charming figures.
Best Moment: “Ode to Viceroy,” a song dedicated to the brand of cigarettes (especially worth it for the outro guitar “solo”)
3. Annie Clark
A Berklee dropout, Annie Clark, of the band St. Vincent, has made a name for herself as un-polished, angular guitar hero with a knack for creating complex and unorthodox, but strangely catchy, pop songs. Her solo work has attracted critical attention from countless artists and has led to collaborations with other pioneering artists such as David Byrne – whom she recorded an album with in 2012 – and New York experimentalists Swans.
Best Moment: The relentless shredding in the song “Surgeon,” off of her 2011 release Strange Mercy
4. Ty Segall
A San Franciscan garage-rocker known for his relentless work ethic (putting out over 10 albums in the past 7 years) almost as much as his six-string prowess, Ty Segall has paved the way for a new generation of punk rockers and psychedelic freaks with a fresh blend of influences that range from classic glam-rockers like David Bowie and T-Rex to pioneering proto-punkers like Hawkwind and The Stooges.
Best Moment: His 2012 collaboration Hair with White Fence (especially the track “I Am Not a Game”)
5. Kevin Parker
With his Lennon-esque vocals and his smart use of dreamy, fuzz-soaked instrumentation, Kevin Parker has brought neo-psychedelia back to the forefront of rock music with his band Tame Impala. A perfect synthesis of Beatles pop and My Bloody Valentine inspired “wall of sound” soundscapes, Tame Impala has inspired countless new bands and is set to become one of the most critically acclaimed rock bands in the past decade.
Best Moment: Any of the hit tracks on Tame Impala’s last two records including “Lucidity,” “Solitude is Bliss,” “Mind Mischief,” or “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”
6. Tosin Abasi
Tosin Abasi is a modernist’s guitar hero, an intimidating technical master of the instrument, and a composer who could give Allan Holdsworth a headache. The front man for the progressive metal band Animals as Leaders, he has already garnered praise from some of the most technically complex guitarists in the world and has already been recognized as one of the fastest and most technically accomplished guitarists in the world.
Best Moment: His two most arguably complex songs “CAFO” and “The Woven Web”
7. Julian Lage
A once child prodigy, Julian Lage has been a faculty member at Stanford University since he was fifteen. An almost perfect definition of a virtuoso, before he reached his twentieth birthday he had already played with some of the most renowned jazz musicians in the world, including Jim Hall and Gary Burton. A polyglot, a chameleon, he is able to seamlessly wander his way through any style of music with ease, and at only 27 years old, he is already a veteran of jazz music.
Best Moment: His most recent album Room, a solo guitar duet recording with Nels Cline
8. Archy Marshall
With his band King Krule, Archy Marshall has followed Mac Demarco into the forefront of spacious and mellowed-out pop songs. Despite his young age, he has already left an impact on modern pop with a completely unique blend of jazz, punk rock, hip hop, and post-punk influences.
Best Moment: Easy Easy, Rock Bottom
9. Blake Mills
Blake Mills is a singer-songwriter and composer who has been described by rock god Eric Clapton as “one of the greatest guitarists of the 21st century.” He was personally invited by Clapton to play at the 2013 Crossroads Guitar Festival and shared the stage with some of the most respected guitarists of all time, including B.B King and Derek Trucks. He stands as one of the more unique voices in rock and blues, and has shown his teeth as a well-versed Ry Cooder-esque slide player with a style all his own.
10. Derek Trucks
Derek Trucks has been lauded not only as the greatest slide guitar player of the 21st century, but one of the greatest guitarists of all time. A child prodigy, he had already played with such music veterans such as Buddy Guy and the Allman Brothers Band. By twenty, he had formed his own band (the Derek Trucks Band) and a band with his wife Susan Tedeschi, both of which have been critically acclaimed. Taking influence from music that ranges from Southern Rock to traditional Indian folk, he has formed a unique style and has the technical ability to back it up.