Frusciante, Hendrix, Richards, Parker – a bloody good guitar riff can kick a song out of the ordinary and into outer space. Whether big and brash or short and punchy, a well-calculated lick can turn a great song into an absolute weapon.
While we’re getting into the latter end of the year it’s time to start thinking about some of 2016’s greatest musical moments. This one’s for the headbangers – a brief selection of some of the best riffs to hit our sound waves over the last nine months or so.
We challenge you to find a music fan who doesn’t go crazy for these: turn it up to 11 for the 8 best guitar riffs of 2016 so far.
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – Denmark / Van Gogh & Gone
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets may have the greatest band name of all time, but beyond that they’re also pretty damn good at throwing down some impressive guitar work. This seven minute long masterpiece opens slowly and hypnotically with some crisp, easy listening chords.
This track reaches absolute climax around minute four and stays strong for the remainder – they’ll have you holding on from note to note. The squeaky clean and ever-evolving riff work here is guaranteed to command your complete attention from start to finish.
Savages – Adore
A deep, sultry guitar line serves as the spine to this severe track from the London-based Savages. The song is a total slow-burner, the brutal riff is a total juxtaposition to the sombre repeated lyric “I adore life”.
As this song nears its’ end you’ll go from hearing a dramatic explosion of noise into a completely manic finale.
Violent Soho – Blanket
Blanket by Aussie legends Violent Soho was an undeniable inclusion – this is one huge tune. It opens with an absolute tease of a guitar line, and they make you hold out for almost a whole minute before hitting you with the big, filthy guitar riff you showed up for.
The track doesn’t stop building, and just when you thought they were hitting their peak it all comes together with an old fashioned, throttling guitar solo.
Whitney – No Woman
This song is effortlessly beautiful with it’s stripped back vocals diced over foot-tapping guitar work. A lot goes on beneath this track, with strings, piano and a few big band brasses. However, it’s the simple, funky guitar riffs laced throughout which brings all the elements together. You could honestly take out every other instrument and the song would still shine.
Beyoncé – Don’t Hurt Yourself
A potentially surprising inclusion? Hardly. This year Beyoncé teamed up with actual guitar hero Jack White for a track which positively oozes vitriol. This song is the culmination of all her #feels on Lemonade and legitimately rocks. The burning riffs would be just as at home on a Stripes record as they are layered under Queen Bey’s booming vocals. Angry-girl grunge at it’s best.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – People Vultures
The lads from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard certainly blew it out of the water with Nonagon Infinity, and People Vultures is a highlight. This song sounds like the soundtrack to the moment in an 80’s hero flick where the protagonist figures out that his hot lady love interest is actually the villain…which by itself is reason enough to love it.
Yearnings towards overacted 80’s mysteries aside, this tune has some seriously slick shreds.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Gamma Knife
It’s unfair to choose between this and People Vultures, so why choose at all? They both possess nearly perfect guitar riffs. The frenetic first offering from Gizz’s latest record demonstrates the preachers at their strongest, loudest and most erratic.
The Strokes – Oblivius
When it comes to topshelf guitar work over the last 10 years, The Strokes have undoubtedly ruled the roost. Oblivius embodies a strong, song-long riff which is equal parts funky and danceable, whilst remaining totally true to The Strokes DNA.
Get to 2:50 and you’ll see exactly why this song made the cut. A stinging electric guitar line which reaches screeching high notes flips over into a deep, repetitive solo that flows on as Julian Casablancas re-introduces his voice velvet into the final minutes of the tune.
Stonefield – Love
No messing about here – Stonefield have found their rock n’ roll feet with their latest, and this absolute belter of a tune captures you immediately with huge riff right up front.
Underneath the gorgeously feminine vocals throughout, Hannah Findlay is given a endless opportunity to absolutely shred the strings as the song builds up into it’s final minute. This sister act knows how to do it.
Kevin Morby – Dorothy
This tune (brought to you by former Woods bassist, Kevin Morby) couples some introspective, heart-wrenching lyrics with super upbeat piano and brass. However, the real hero of this track is the layered riffs which ebb and flow throughout the tune.
This gorgeous guitar-driven tune was literally written about experiences with the very instrument, and also named after Morby’s guitar…inception.
While you’re here, check out our list of the 9 most famous guitars in the world.