10,000 volt lead licks and the bluesier side of Peaky Blinders: This week's essential guitar tracks

Anna Calvi performs at TOdays Festival 2023 at sPAZIO211 in Turin, Italy on August 26, 2023
(Image credit: Roberto Finizio/Getty Images)

Hello, and welcome to Essential Guitar Tracks. As you may well know, 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.

Our goal is to give you an overview of the biggest tracks, our editor’s picks and anything you may have missed. We’re pushing horizons and taking you out of your comfort zone – because, as guitarists, that’s something we should all be striving for in our playing. 

So, here are our highlights from the past seven days – now with a Spotify playlist…

Ace Frehley – 10,000 Volts

He won’t be at Kiss’ last-ever concert tomorrow – apparently he wasn’t even invited – but Ace Frehley has got a new single under his belt. The title track from his forthcoming record, 10,000 Volts is as electrifying as its name would suggest, loaded with razor sharp progressions and high-voltage lead licks. Ace’s first album in five years will be released in February next year. (MO)

Judas Priest – Trial by Fire

’Priest return, with Glenn Tipton in tow, on this potent new single that’s full of modern metal nods in the production style, but has enough of Rob Halford and co’s hallmarks to feel faithful to their classic template. Richie Faulkner obliges with a typically razor-sharp solo – full of bouncing pinch harmonics and descending shred lines. (MP)

The Jesus And Mary Chain – jamcod 

jamcod, the lead single from Scottish shoegaze pioneers the Jesus And Mary Chain’s first LP in seven years, has an industrial drive that’ll be music to the ears of any Nine Inch Nails fan. It might be a bit more electronic than the band’s Just Like Honey-era classics, but the jarring, distorted power chords that break the song’s doors down after the first verse are a perfect reminder of how the band paved the way for My Bloody Valentine, the aforementioned Nine Inch Nails, and countless other noise ‘n’ melody bands. (JM)

Real Estate – Water Underground

The indie stalwarts have no business sounding this good on album number six, but everything about Water Underground is gorgeous, from the wistful slide work, the chiming arpeggios and the washes of warm acoustic to the earworm vocal hook. The video, a tribute to early-’90s TV show Pete & Pete, also mainlines Nickelodeon nostalgia, which is fine by us. (MP)

Alkaline Trio – Bad Time

Matt Skiba gives his former blink-182 bandmates a run for their money with this storming pop-punk anthem, taken from Alkaline Trio's forthcoming 10th album Blood, Hair and Eyeballs. The wall of distorted guitars and Skiba’s energetic vocals sound utterly vital, proving pop-punk can be far more than just nostalgia in the 2020s. (MAB)

The Snuts – Deep Diving

Since making a name for themselves back in 2021 with a historic debut album (W.L., which reached number one in the UK charts), Scottish indie outfit The Snuts have embarked on a prolific, almost restless run of releases. After following up W.L. with 2022’s Burn the Empire, the band have now dropped a new single titled Deep Diving – the title track of which demonstrates The Snuts’ tirelessly evolutionary sound, which simply grows and gets better with every installment. (MO)

Bonnie "Prince" Billy – Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You

The latest tune from veteran singer-songwriter Bonnie “Prince” Billy (the stage name of Will Oldham) is an absolute stunner of a slow burn. Someone who’s songcraft is as strong as Oldham’s will always have a perfect awareness of a song’s need for space, and indeed, each note of the conversational, spare leads he lends to this instant classic speaks a thousand words. (JM)

The Pineapple Thief – The Frost

With Porcupine Tree once again on hiatus, drummer Gavin Harrison is free to return to his other band, long-running British progsters The Pineapple Thief. Indeed, fans of Steve Wilson’s exploits will appreciate Bruce Soord’s guitars on The Frost, which are dreamlike one moment, savage the next. (MAB)

Anna Calvi – Black Tuesday

No one does widescreen atmospheric drama on the electric guitar quite like Anna Calvi, so when it came for the Peaky Blinders soundtrack, she was something of a dream pairing. Now the British guitarist and songwriter is releasing her work from the last two seasons of the show, offering a first taster in the form of this menacing, animalistic blues instrumental. She says more in a minute and a half than some players will in their lifetimes. (MP)

NewDad – Nightmares

Recorded at Rockfield – one of Queen and Black Sabbath’s fave studios – and mixed by Alan Moulder (of Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails fame), the latest single from Irish alt-rockers NewDad is a shoegazing indie anthem that nods to the Cure and the Cult in its elegantly orchestrated and densely effected guitar layers. Destined to be huge. (MAB)

Yard Act – Petroleum

By now, Yard Act are pretty well-known for their angular alternative sound, and their latest single, Petroleum, sees the Leeds-based post-punk quartet double down in devastating fashion, delivering a gloriously off-kilter bass riff that carries the track through a minefield of left-field licks and sizzling fuzz notes. (MO)

Also on this week’s playlist…

  • Chelsea Wolfe – Tunnel Lights
  • Elephant Gym – Ocean in the Night Orchestra (feat. Hom Shenhao)
  • Real Terms – Kite
  • Sun Room – Stuck in the Heat
  • Steve Hackett – People of the Smoke
  • Cobra Spell – Warrior from Hell
  • Dan Patlansky – Who I Am

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Michael Astley-Brown

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 from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.