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From frenetic eight-string exchanges to swaggeringly catchy country: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Orville Peck performs onstage at Madison Square Garden on October 30, 2021 in New York City
(Image credit: Theo Wargo/Getty Images/HS)

Welcome to Guitar World’s weekly roundup of the musical highlights from the, erm, world of guitar. Every seven days (or thereabouts), we endeavor to bring you a selection of songs from across the guitar universe, all with one thing in common: our favorite instrument plays a starring role.

Jason Richardson – Upside Down (feat. Tim Henson)

What is it? A new collaborative effort from progressive guitar maestros Jason Richardson and Tim Henson. To be frank, it’s a wonder how these two titans never run out of rule-bending ideas, such is the expansiveness of their playing. Nevertheless, Upside Down proves the pair’s indescribable creativity is still firing on all cylinders, and that they’re continuing to push the guitar to its absolute limits.

Standout guitar moment: Choosing a standout moment in Upside Down is an impossible task. In an ideal world, “the first five minutes and 43 seconds” would be the answer. However, there’s only a 30-second passage – Henson’s guest solo – in which the pair play together, so that feels like a suitable compromise.

For fans of: Polyphia, Manuel Gardner Fernandes, Ichika Nito

– Matt Owen 

HEALTH, Lamb of God – Cold Blood

What is it? The single that kicks off the build-up to Health’s recently announced new album, DISCO4 :: PART II. Following previously released tracks with Nine Inch Nails, Poppy and Perturbator – an eclectic mix of artists as it is – Cold Blood sees the LA noise rock trio join forces with Virginia groove metal titans Lamb of God, letting their new collaborators take the creative reins, with Willie Adler and Mark Morton’s guitar riffs snatching the spotlight.

Standout guitar moment: The guitar riff when the tempo picks up at the 1:13 mark. It might be predictably LoG, but they’ve found a winning songwriting formula, so why mess with it?

For fans of: Machine Head, Trivium, Hatebreed

Sam Roche

Orville Peck – C'mon Baby, Cry

What is it? The swaggeringly catchy lead single from Bronco: Chapter 1, the new EP from America’s favorite masked country star, C'mon Baby, Cry is the product of a skilled songwriter who can take a set of standard ingredients and create something that leaves a unique, lasting impression.

Standout guitar moment: There’s no big guitar break to be found here, but the song’s central guitar figure and sunny acoustic strums are played with enough gusto and showmanship to match Peck’s dazzling vocal performance. 

For fans of: Kacey Musgraves, Dolly Parton, The Cactus Blossoms 

Jackson Maxwell

Snail Mail – Adore You (Valentine Demo)

What is it? Lindsey Jordan’s synth-tinged sophomore effort bucked many of the ideas found on her indie-guitar masterclass debut, but this demo take of Valentine’s title track harks back to Snail Mail’s heart-on-sleeve singer-songwriter origins. The final version’s mammoth chorus has yet to be realized here, and teamed with that delicate single-coil tone, Adore You becomes less of a breakup anthem, and more of a tender love letter.

Standout guitar moment: The track’s neat fingerpicking pattern gets the most out of a chord progression that simply cannot sound tired no matter how many times it turns around.

For fans of: Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy, Lucy Dacus

– Michael Astley-Brown

Damon Johnson & The Get Ready – Can’t Clap Any Louder 

What is it? A track taken from Damon Johnson & The Get Ready’s newest nine-track album, Battle Lessons. This time out, Johnson – whose A-list credits include Black Star Riders, Alice Cooper and Brother Cane – gets his time to shine, and takes the opportunity to rummage through his stellar six-string arsenal for a heavy-hitting, hard-rocking romp.

Standout guitar moment: Each chorus is treated to a followup solo, though the second lead effort is a particular highlight. It’s got everything you could want from a classic rock solo: pentatonic licks, motifs that migrate their way up the neck and a climactic high-end bend.

For fans of: AC/DC, Black Star Riders, Brother Cane

– Matt Owen

Kurt Vile – Like Exploding Stones

What is it? The loping, expansive lead single from (watch my moves), the singer/songwriter and master guitarist’s forthcoming ninth solo studio album. Like Exploding Stones elegantly unfurls over the course of seven minutes, on a mission to lower the listener’s blood pressure the whole way.

Standout guitar moment: Dreamy, unhurried and simple as it is, the money comes between the lines of Like Exploding Stones. Vile’s twangy whammy bar work, lurching bends and ever-immaculate use of modulation will give you something new to love about this tune every time you return to it. 

For fans of: The War on Drugs, Real Estate, Tame Impala 

Jackson Maxwell

Amon Amarth – Put Your Back Into the Oar

What is it? Staying true to their Viking metal roots, Swedish melodic death metal stalwarts Amon Amarth have issued a clarion call with unrelenting new track, Put Your Back Into the Oar. Savage from the offset, the track is thrust forward by the guitars, and packed with so much macho bravado it’ll make your beard grow several inches in five minutes.

Standout guitar moment: The riff that accompanies the chants of “Row! Row!” is fittingly uplifting, and reflective of the track’s rousing subject matter.

For fans of: Arch Enemy, Wintersun, Dimmu Borgir

Sam Roche

Robin Trower – No More Worlds To Conquer 

What is it? The lead single and title track from Trower’s upcoming LP, which will arrive April 29. “With every album, it’s the best I can do at that particular time,” teased the former Procol Harum guitarist, who has recruited drummer Chris Taggard and vocalist Richard Watts for the forthcoming effort. With this single, it’s clear that Trower’s tasteful chops are still up there with the very best, evident from those clean intro lines and the chunky fingerpicking motifs.

Standout guitar moment: Trower’s nonchalant noodlings – concocted via the timeless combo of a Fender Stratocaster and Marshall amp – are faultless throughout, but the beefy, bend-heavy solo at the 2:30 mark is certainly worth shouting about.

For fans of: Robben Ford, Rory Gallagher

– Matt Owen

Animals As Leaders – Gordian Naught

What is it? The latest slice of unsurpassable prog-metal from Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes, and perhaps the pair’s most brutal offering yet from the upcoming Parrhesia. Produced by Periphery juggernaut Misha Mansoor, Gordian Naught is a total head-trip from start to finish, traversing chin-scratching time signatures with fluid ease. The arrangement is crushing, the tones are simply staggering, and if there’s a better pull-off riff this year, we’d love to hear it.

Standout guitar moment: The frenetic eight-string exchange that guides the track’s breakdown at the two-and-a-half-minute mark: Abasi and Reyes’ ability to choose the most sinister notes imaginable strikes again, all delivered with typically death-defying technique.

For fans of: Periphery, Meshuggah, Monuments

– Michael Astley-Brown

Tomberlin – happy accident

What is it? The second single from Sarah Beth Tomberlin’s highly-anticipated sophomore full-length album, i don’t know who needs to hear this…, happy accident gets a big-time boost from guest guitarist Cass McCombs.

Standout guitar moment: Hearing Tomberlin’s phenomenal songwriting set against a canvas of her and McCombs’ shoegazey, dual-guitar interplay is thrilling, particularly when one veers off-course for some textural, noisy outbursts while the other holds the fort down with the song’s beautifully charred main riff.   

For fans of: Mitski, Phoebe Bridgers, Big Thief  

Jackson Maxwell

Joe Traxler – Forget How To Speak 

What is it? The latest single from Austrian indie-rock guitarist, producer and singer-songwriter Joe Traxler. With a fundamental sonic tonality akin to that of John Mayer – peep the Half of My Heart-esque chorus turnaround – though with a healthy dose of his own DNA, Traxler’s writing chops once again come up trumps, as does his selective, spectrum-spanning appreciation of guitar tones.

Standout guitar moment: It’s got to be the tones. Traxler clearly adopts an expansive approach in Forget How To Speak, offering an array of gorgeous six-string sounds, from the pristine opening acoustics and slinky double-tracked electrics all the way to the space-y interlude licks.

For fans: John Mayer, The 1975

– Matt Owen

Three Days Grace – Neurotic (feat. Lukas Rossi)

What is it? A new track from Canadian rock outfit Three Days Grace, in association with Rock Star Supernova frontman Lukas Rossi. The track – which arrives ahead of the band’s forthcoming album, Explosions, out May 6 – has that quintessential NWOAHM sound of the early 2000s, led by a massive electric guitar riff and effortlessly catchy vocal hooks.

Standout guitar moment: The main guitar riff – in the intro and after the choruses – is simple yet crushing, and drenched in undeniably satisfying fuzz.

For fans of: Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown, Papa Roach

Sam Roche

FES – Clarinet

What is it? A belter of a single from one of the most exhilarating math-pop bands to emerge from the UK in recent years. Tele-toting FES leader Pollyanna Holland-Wing marries the kind of dreamy extended chords you’d expect to find in Midwest emo with an irresistible progressive edge – think Covet meets Paramore and you’ll have a pretty good idea.

Standout guitar moment: Obligatory ‘check out the sick tapping at 2:53’ comment – and it really is sick – but the whole track is awash with gorgeous guitar tones and ethereal delay textures.

For fans of: TTNG, Covet, Paramore

– Michael Astley-Brown

The Dip – Real Contender 

What is it? A new single from seven-piece ensemble project The Dip, which harnesses an old-school style and pairs it with a contemporary indie-rock flair. Real Contender is a fitting introduction to their repertoire: the smooth six-strings form a foundation for the flavorful chord progression, and dance away underneath the track’s big band instrumentation.

Standout guitar moment: There’s some really nice two-part interplay going on in the verses. While one deals with the customary high-register snaps, the other tinkles away on some descending melody lines.

For fans of: Theo Katzman, Parcels, Cassette Deck 

– Matt Owen

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Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar (opens in new tab), Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as the best part of 20 years performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe (opens in new tab).