The Rise of Guitar Rock and Experimentation

By: Arthur D. Alfaro
OwlFeed Journalist

Guitars have always been a cornerstone of modern music, but recently, there’s been a big uptake in the role of the guitar. Big walls of washy reverb and fuzz. Plucky, chorus drenched lead melodies. Huge distortion filled freakouts. These characteristics are becoming more common traits in lots of modern music, pop and rock music in particular.

Photo Credit: Rachel Frank of Listen SD

Loads of prominent artists are being praised for the use of guitars in their music. Just take a look at one of the world’s biggest pop stars of our generation: Kevin Parker, or of more notable fame, Tame Impala. 

The records that brought him to the limelight are drenched in flanged out, psychedelic guitar riffs that have left listeners in a psyche rock-induced high. Not to mention the copious amounts of actual psychedelics associated with the music. Guitar effects like phasers, delays, and the oh so abrasive fuzz (one of my personal favorites even though they all are) are commonplace in many pedalboards, rack units, and studios of today’s modern artists.

Noise and timbre is also a large focus on a bunch of these records. More and more people are experimenting with the sounds their guitars make, getting so meticulous as to do things like tape manipulation and messing with the guitar and amp itself. 

Filling every crevice of your ears with noise is a goal of many bands, such as black midi with their “try to keep the music going as long as possible” attitude, as said in their interview with SPIN Magazine. There is never a second for you to breathe when you listen to their music, keeping the tension high at all times.


 Today’s guitarists have been taking the role of lead vocals with their melodic guitar lines and riffs coloring their tracks. The band Khrungbin comes to mind when I think of guitar virtuosity in today’s generation. 

Mark Speer, the guitarist, is known for making his guitar sing. His Southeast Asian-inspired guitar playing fills their tracks with beautiful, chimy lead parts as heard on tracks like “People Everywhere (Still Alive)” and “Lady and Man.” His guitar playing is further explained by the man himself when he and the band did an interview with


All in all, guitars are making a slight return (not like they were gone in the first place) and with a new-found modern edge. Look around in your local record store or listen to the tunes coming from the tiny JBL speakers at your favorite coffee joint. The music around us is getting more fun and experimental. It’s in its nature to. 

The guitar is a fantastic tool that we use to make such amazing sonic stories and I’m glad to hear it so heavily used in my favorite tunes. So the next time you listen to your favorite song, take a moment to really analyze and appreciate the freaky noises filling your ears, maybe it’ll even move you so much that you pick one up.  Happy noise-making folks!