The Guitar.com Awards 2022: The best tracks, albums and artists of the year

We take a look at the guitar tracks, albums and artists that made our 2022 special.

Artist Awards

We’ve come to the end of another year, and so we dive headlong into awards season. It’s all well and good looking at guitars, pedals and amps, but what about the people who play them? Time to honour the guitar tracks, albums and artists that made our 2022 special.

Artist Of The Year: Polyphia

Polyphia
It’s safe to say that it’s been Polyphia’s year. There’s seldom been a time they haven’t been grabbing headlines, but this goes beyond rehashing the boomer-bends debacle: Polyphia are doing something new with the guitar. No longer just a mathy prog-metal act, their latest LP Remember That You Will Die showed how capable they are of making truly uncategorisable music without having to completely reject what came before. As if we needed any further proof of this, they even went out and collaborated with Steve Vai – the gold standard of following your own restless guitar muse.

Maximalist, provocative, and captivating, Polyphia make sure you pay attention to them. And so regardless of whether you love them or hate them, their absolutely unignorable presence is a great thing for everyone who loves the guitar: with bands like them around, there’s no chance the instrument is going to fade into the background anytime soon.

Winner – Polyphia

Album Of The Year: Wet Leg – //Wet Leg//

Wet LegIsle of Wight duo Wet Leg had a lot to live up to in 2022, as they spent the better part of last year building up a juggernaut of hype for their debut. But they stuck the landing: //Wet Leg// is wall-to-wall excellent, earning an easy 10/10 from us here at Guitar.com. Its winding, complex guitar lines do everything to increase the forever-repeatable nature of the album and nothing to appear like they’re trying too hard.

It’s vibrant and life-affirming without being cheesy. It’s funny without being a novelty. And it’s at once polished and emotionally-charged. It is, in essence, everything good guitar-pop should be. If you don’t own a copy of this album, change that now. You won’t regret it.

Winner – Wet Leg – Wet Leg

Track Of The Year: Willow – //ur a <stranger>//

WillowWillow Smith’s guitar-centric reinvention has been a joy to watch – while Gen Z’s revival of 2000s nu-metal and pop-punk is in full swing, Willow is far from just rehashing Avril Lavigne hooks: ur a <stranger> slides effortlessly between metal chugging and a glorious, Muse-esque hook. Her love of alt-metal greats like Deftones is very audible here, albeit packaged into a quick two minutes – combining the edge of alt-metal with a short, sharp pop hook has often led to great results, and ur a <stranger> is no exception.

Winner – WILLOW – ur a <stranger>

Guitar.com Incoming Award: Horsegirl

Horsegirl make a lot of noise for a three-piece. And when we say noise, we mean it: the woozy interplay between constantly churning Bass VI and fuzzy, vibrato-laden guitar lines evokes the best of 80s and 90s noise rock and shoegaze. Not surprisingly, Sonic Youth members Steve Shelley and Lee Ranaldo gave Horsegirl their stamp of approval, and played on two songs on their excellent 2022 release Versions Of Modern Performance.

But a tribute band they are not: to start a band in the 2020s is to start one in a whirlpool of influences, all decades previous folded into themselves inside streaming’s solid time-crystal. My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Built To Spill, and more: there’s a cocktail of noise being mixed by Horsegirl. And if you’re reading this website you probably don’t need us to tell you of the appeal of the base ingredient: delay-pedal-soaked, reverb-drenched, never-letting-go-of-the-whammy-bar guitar.

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