From ambient-jazz odysseys to hip-hop-tinged metal crushers: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Jeff Parker performs with Tortoise at Matadero on May 15, 2012 in Madrid, Spain
(Image credit: Mariano Regidor/Redferns)

Folks in the States will soon be gathered around voluminous plates of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and such. But that’s for next Thursday. 

For this Thursday, we’ve got a blood pressure-lowering ambient-jazz odyssey from Jeff Parker, a feast of light-speed bluegrass pickin’ from Molly Tuttle, an EDM and hip-hop-tinged crusher from We Came As Romans, a grungy, insanely catchy number from Momma, and a whole lot more.

So, before you – if you celebrate – tuck into your Thanksgiving feast, tuck into these tasty new tunes.

Jeff Parker – Suffolk

It’s beyond cliche to say of an artist: ‘they never let themselves get painted into a box.’ If that used-to-death description could ever be applied to just one guitarist though, it might be Jeff Parker. 

Whether playing with Tortoise, in a session, leading his own group, or playing solo, Parker brings with him an ingenious sense of space and a delicate melodic touch.

Suffolk – the lead single from his upcoming album of solo guitar compositions, Forfolks – is similarly borderless in scope, a beautifully freewheeling, guitar-driven expression of joy and musical exploration. 

Built on a series of tape loops and light, airy keyboard drones, Suffolk is chock full of gorgeous improvised playing. There’s some bebop spunk in the looped guitar figure that gives the song its restless, frontier-pushing drive and classic jazz elegance in the chords and some of the lead lines, with the freeform spirit of more experimental influences never too far away. 

With its unhurried pace and quiet demeanor, Suffolk really sneaks up on you as a masterpiece of improvisation. Come for the tranquility, stay to lose yourself in the piece’s many, hypnotic layers of guitar. (JM)

Animals As Leaders – The Problem of Other Minds

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a fix of new Animals As Leaders, and while Monomyth went some way towards alleviating fans's impatience earlier this year, today’s announcement that the celebrated prog metal trio will be releasing their first album in five years next March was enthusiastically received.

The Problem of Other Minds, the second single to be taken from Parrhesia, has somehow succeeded in making a further five-month wait bearable. Spearheaded by Tosin Abasi’s sought-after lead tones and propped up by an unrelenting arpeggiated synth, the three-piece make their way through two-and-a-half minutes of sheer prog bliss.

Delivering the best of what they have to offer – melodic percussion passages, selectively assembled solos, meaty chugs and kaleidoscopic backline soundscapes – Animals As Leaders sound as though they’re on a mission to make the pay-off worth a five-year wait, and we’re already well on the way to being won over by the rhythmically intriguing, deliciously assembled single.

Parrhesia has all the makings of a fierce album, albeit one that requires a little more waiting before its eventual arrival. But heck, after patiently waiting for five years, these next five months will be a breeze… we hope. (MO)

We Came As Romans – Daggers (feat. Zero 9:36)

Rap over metal is a combination we’ve seen work time and time again – think any nu-metal heavyweight: Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Linkin Park – but on their latest single, Daggers, We Came As Romans offer up their own take on this tried and tested genre blend.

A certified pit-spinner, Daggers kicks off with a crushing riff courtesy of guitarists Joshua Moore and Lou Cotton, and a subsequent pummeling verse and chorus section driven by vocalist David Stephens, before Pennsylvania-born rapper Zero 9:36 adds a verse-long injection of hip-hop/nu metal into the mix.

This one is unrelenting, and we can’t wait to see the Michigan metalcore outfit take it to the stage on their upcoming 2022 tour with Senses Fail. (SR)

Momma - Medicine

One of nouveau grunge’s best-kept secrets, Momma have been quietly building a formidable catalog of sweet-and-sour guitar anthems, and the New York outfit’s latest single – and first for Polyvinyl Record Co./Lucky Number Music – maintains that upward momentum.

Medicine once again showcases the sparkling arpeggiated guitar interplay between Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten, but elevates their core sound to new heights with a sky-scraping, downstroke-driven chorus that signals towards big things. (MAB)

Molly Tuttle – She’ll Change 

Owing to her double-helping of cover efforts last year, it’s been a while – almost two years, to be precise – since we’ve heard any original material from Molly Tuttle. That was until today, when the acoustic-playing virtuoso dropped She’ll Change – an energetic two-and-a-half minute bluegrass masterpiece.

With the support of a who’s who of Nashville musicians, Tuttle takes the opportunity to pay homage to “the musical women who helped me find my own voice”, and does so in immense fashion. It’s a Tuttle track, which means the inclusion of awe-inspiring guitar work is a given, though the uptempo nature, paired with the unblemished acoustic tones, makes for one unmissable listening experience.

Listen carefully, and you’ll hear the strings bounce off the ‘board to deliver devastating undertones, while Tuttle plows undeterred into a barrage of rapid-fire licks and melodies, as well as an extended solo populated entirely with impeccably articulated notes.

There is more than one reason to get excited about She’ll Change, though, aside from the bounty of top-notch fretboard work. It is, in fact, the first track to be lifted from Tuttle’s upcoming studio album – her debut with Nonesuch Records – which will arrive early next year. (MO)

Temperance – Diamanti

The three tracks released from their forthcoming LP so far – Pure Life Unfolds, Breaking the Rules of Heavy Metal and now Diamanti – showcase the next stage of evolution for Italian symphonic metal stalwarts Temperance.

The latter track – released earlier this week – is infused with the same enthralling grandeur as heard on the group’s previous album, 2020’s Viridian, with mesmerizingly illustrative string sections and a huge-sounding powerchords from resident six-stringer Marco Pastorino.

Diamanti, at times, plays like a metal-inspired film score – one which would accompany a valiant hero saving the world, naturally. And if so, the breakdown at the 3:05 mark – in which Pastorino participates in a massive call-and-response phrase with the string section – would accompany a carefully choreographed fight between the hero and their nemesis. At least that’s how we hear it. (SR)

Me and That Man – Under the Spell

Those unfamiliar with Me and That Man’s work might be surprised by the sound of Nergal’s side project. The band – which the Polish musician fronts when he’s not tearing up stages and spitting fake blood at crowds with extreme metal titans Behemoth – have just released their latest single, Under the Spell.

Infused with the twangy clean guitar sounds of classic Americana, this track sees Nergal recruit Ghost frontman Tobias Forge, who performs under an age-old moniker of his, Mary Goore.

Forge – who apparently described a rough mix of the track as having a “rockabilly/Motörhead king of vibe” – invited Nergal to his personal studio in Sweden to record the track. And the rest, Nergal says, is history. (SR)

Jamie Lenman - Television Is Not Your Life

Formerly of perennially underrated alt-rockers Reuben, Jamie Lenman is something of a cult hero in his native UK, and for his latest one-off single, set himself the bold task of live-looping a track, in-studio, on all instruments, in one take. Cue some ingenious pedal-operated tambourine and cymbal work and quick-fire instrument swaps.

It’s a maverick move, but Lenman’s ambition is anchored by his ever-reliable quick wit and chunky drop-D riffs, performed on his trademark Yamaha Pacifica and, surprisingly, an Ibanez Paul Gilbert Fireman. (MAB)

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.