You may notice some labels making recurrent and multiple appearances on this list and from year to year. These labels have become successful, forward thinking purveyors of boundary stretching music, so it is not surprising they are attracting the best of the best. Cuneiform has a long history in this field, which makes up and coming, virtuoso Anthony Pirog a good match. Rune Grammofon continues to support the ground-breaking work of modern guitar hero Stian Westerhus, while Anti and Nonesuch are becoming the go-to labels for roots artists looking to remain relevant.
Once again this is a purely subjective list, so please let me know if you feel strongly about a record I have left off. We are fortunate so much great modern guitar music is available, but it makes it hard for one man to keep up. Happy Holidays.
Every now and then I will discover a guitarist in a certain context and then find out I have already heard his or her work in another band. I found Trapist’s minimalist masterpiece, Ballroom many years ago, but when I discovered Martin Siewert’s Radian video’s more recently was unaware that he was the guitarist from Trapist. Part of the thriving Viennese experimental scene that gave us Christian Fennesz and Burkhard Stangl, his solid grounding in American roots music almost makes him a candidate for Roots Moderne. Siewert’s actual output though retains only hints of that inspiration—enough to lend it an emotional weight not found often enough in deeply experimental music.