A Few More Riffs from the Last Ten Years

theholdsteadyEvery so often, our fearless leader Sir Rocknuts surfaces from his underground bunker in order to deliver a post or article. Part of the fun of working here is that we are allowed to disagree with his opinion, though he holds our collective fortunes in his giant hand. The aim is and has always been to open up a dialogue about various facets of rock music. We are all open to new perspectives and opinions, so long as said opinions are well-reasoned.

That being said, I found Sir Rocknuts’s list of “The 25 Best Guitar Riffs” to be generally very inclusive. He nailed all the important beats while still saving room for a few lesser-known picks like Nada Surf. That’s why I only wish to supplement his list, not dispute it. Since the most recent item on the existing list is from around 13 years ago, I thought I’d present a short list of killer riffs that arrived within the past ten years. Here we go.

5.”Slapped Actress” – The Hold Steady

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This closing track from 2008’s Stay Positive layers one of the group’s chunkiers riff on top of twinkling and understated piano. Stick around for the shout-along chorus.

4. “January Hymn” – The Decemberists

Is a guitar line considered a “riff” if it’s gentle and beautiful? The term “riff” seems awfully harsh, but I just don’t know what else to call it.

3. “Are You With Me Now?” – Cate Le Bon

The noodling twin guitars of this track combine to create a monster riff that is as multi-faceted as it is catchy.

2. “Nights of Wine and Roses” – Japandroids

Man, Celebration Rock is a fitting album title if there ever was one. The Canadian group manages to reach a hard-earned catharsis on the first track! Once you’ve heard this pile-driving riff, it’ll be hard to think about anything else for a while.

1. “Fever Dreaming” – No Age

This Los Angeles duo is just guitar and drums, so the guitar melodies do a great deal of the heavy lifting. Guitarist Randy Randall coaxes unholy sounds out of his instrument with the help of various effects pedals, yet still manages to sound appropriately grounded. These are some next-generation guitar heroics.


Anything I left out? Feel free to berate me!

Photo: The Hold Steady; By Razor & Tie LLC (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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