As far as how guitar rock has evolved in this decade, I think one stream of that evolution rests in the idea of mood and restraint. In this, Kingsbury Manx who hail from North Carolina, are major proponents even if they go largely unsung in the wider world. When I first heard Doves, a band from England who may be a bit higher profile, I thought of these guys immediately. I think both bands are exploring similar sonic territory, with a traditional guitar, bass, drums used as a means of creating an atmosphere, not unlike an approach with sequencers and laptop technology allows electronica acts.
I picked up Let You Down in Camden in London, based upon the strength of a review. And I was both surprised by its simplicity, and haunted by the way it used traditional rock instruments to set a scene. And the vocals on the album served no different a purpose.
At that time, Radiohead had released Kid A, and everyone was musing about the death of indie guitar rock, with several “post-rock’ albums in the wings to represent the new dawn for the guitar on rock albums. Where I don’t think this record held the keys to the future in that respect, I do think it repositions what a guitar-bass-drums set up can mean – instruments to create a mood, not necessarily to bolster traditional pop songs in a rock idiom.
For more recent music from these guys, check out this video by Kingsbury Manx which really brings out their “Simon & Garfunkel Meets Pink Floyd” sound.