Guitar Moderne Top Records of 2017


There were many terrific records in 2017. In another year, Charlie Rauh’s Viriditas, Dan Phelps’ Arc, and Rights by Manuel Troller’s band Schnellertollermeier might have fit on my “Best of…” list. But this year saw so many releases by modern guitar superstars that I just have to recommend reserving some money to also pick up their worthy efforts.

This list is mine; feel free to list yours in the comment section.

Tera Melos Trash Generator [Sargent House]

Up and coming future modern guitar legend Nick Reinhart makes the list with the latest by his band. Once again pushing the limits with their punk/prog sound.

Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan Small Town [ECM]

Bassist Morgan and Frisell deliver a telepathic, live set of music without genre or borders, reminiscent of the legendary Jim Hall/Ron Carter duo records.

Big Walnuts Yonder Self-titled (Nels Cline, Nick Reinhart, Mike Watt.) [Sargent House]

A modern guitar supergroup if there ever was one. Two generations of players who have mastered their basic instruments and gone on to develop a cyborg-like extension of the guitar through effects.

Raoul Björkenheim Ecstasy Doors Of Perception [Cuneiform Records]

As he did as early as 1991, with his band Krakatau, Björkenheim again brings the classic electric guitar/acoustic bass/drums/sax ensemble into the modern age.

Various Artists Sky Music: A Tribute To Terje Rypdal (Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen, Reine Fisk, Even Helte Hermansen, Henry Kaiser, Hans Magnus Ryan, Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, David Torn, Raoul Björkenheim, Jim O’Rourke, electric guitars) [Runegrammofon]

Kudos to Kaiser for bringing this summit of modern guitarists together to pay tribute to a pioneer, and for making sonic sense of it all.

Ozone Squeeze (Oz Noy) Self-titled [Abstract Logix]

Noy joins Australian singer/keyboard/keyboard bassist Rai Thistlewaite to produce a soul/pop/fusion masterpiece. Noy adds Belew-like noises and stunning solos to Thistlewaite’s funky melodic tunes and covers. His octave fuzz sitar solo on “Skylark” alone is worth the price of admission.

Reeves Gabrels Imaginary Friends Live [Bandcamp]

The former Tin Machine, current Cure guitarist melds metal chops and modern sounds in songs that drip with humor and intelligence.

Fred Frith Trio Another Day In Fucking Paradise [Intakt Records]

Experimental guitar pioneer Frith joins with Jason Hoopes on bass and Jordan Glenn on drums to once again show us how it is done.

Jim Campilongo Live at the Rockwood [Blue Hen Records]

His work with Nels Cline and a recent set in Nashville showed that Campilongo is moving beyond Roots Moderne into pure Telecaster-driven modern music.


Roots Moderne

Elizabeth Cook Exodus of Venus [Agent Love Music]

A bounty of Lanois-esque guitar textures mixed with pure country twang and evocative story-telling songs.

Jerry Granelli (w Bill Frisell and Robben Ford) Dance Hall [Justin Time]

Over 20 years ago Granelli brought two of my favorite artists together in an unlikely pairing for A Song I Thought I Heard Buddy Sing. They are back with another blues-based set that demonstrates how two guitarists can approach the same material so differently and with equal brilliance

Whitehorse Panther in the Dollhouse [Six Shooter Records]

Former Sarah McLachlan guitarist Luke Doucet and his wife Melissa McClelland continue to evolve their own brand of North Americana, combining twangy and fuzzy guitar with modern beats and other contemporary touches. The singing and songs are great too.

Peter Parcek Everyody Wants To Go To Heaven [Lightnin Records]

Marco Giovano’s production helps guitarist/vocalist Parcek proffer an album of blues that delivers the dark mystery that makes the genre so attractive.


4 thoughts on “Guitar Moderne Top Records of 2017

  1. Thanks for putting together this fantastic list. This is such a great site.

    I know you’ve covered the magnificent Mary Halvorson on this site before. She put out a ton of music as a leader and side musician this year and just sounds better and better as a composer and improviser.

    Happy New Year!

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