Eddie Van Halen's guitar rig rises again and a Seattle supergroup returns: this week's essential guitar tracks

Becca Mancari and Brittany Howard
(Image credit: Becca Mancari/YouTube)

Hello, and welcome to a new Spotify playlist-embiggened 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 (scroll down for the latest additions).

Mammoth WVH – Take a Bow

Mammoth WVH’s longest song to date and an “evolution” of Wolfgang Van Halen’s songwriting as per the man himself, Take a Bow is especially notable for its solo, which was crafted using Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein and original Marshall amp rig. Those EVH-esque two-hand tapping lines are a nice touch, too. (MO)

Ariel Posen – I Wish That We Never Met

There is a moment on the Canadian guitarist’s new single (from around 1.48), where the slide enters and you will swear it’s a talented backing singer, such is its vocal dexterity. It’s a shuffling, funky return with a rhythm lick you’re going to want to learn and makes a fine amuse bouche for new album, Reasons Why – we’re very pleased to have met. (MP)

3rd Secret – Ditch

Last year, Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron launched a new supergroup with Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, 3rd Secret. Released with little fanfare, 3rd Secret’s debut album was a grungy folk nostalgia trip, and just over a year later, their second record has surfaced out of nowhere. Its first single leans into psychedelia with the kind of angular, tortuous riffs Thayil has made his trademark, while his typically frenetic closing solo leans into octave fuzz textures, deepening the kaleidoscopic Hendrix connections. (MAB)

Buck Meek – Paradise

A hypnotic electric guitar absolutely soaked in tremolo props up Paradise from Buck Meek – backing vocalist and guitarist of Big Thief – whose warbling fingerstyle fretboard musings prove to be the perfect foil for his equally mesmerizing lyrical flow. (MO)

Becca Mancari feat. Brittany Howard – Don’t Even Worry

A thrift store guitar hunter’s dream clip – songwriter Becca Mancari wields a stunning old Apollo (a Japanese import brand distributed via St Louis Music until the mid-’70s), while co-writer Brittany Howard completes the show-stopping guitar duo with what we think is a heavily-customised DiPinto Galaxie (that Kay Coronado-like headstock is throwing us – answers on a postcard, please!). The two are longtime friends and bandmates in Bermuda Triangle – and their kinship shows in both the track and the video. (MP)

Ola Englund – The First of Its Kind

Ola Englund isn’t just a YouTuber and the brains behind a metal guitar company – he’s also a deft songwriter, as evidenced by his latest single, The First of Its Kind. Simply put, it sounds as gnarly as his Solar Guitars look: brutally driven, littered with tastefully dissonant riffs and bursting at the seams with razor-sharp lead work. (MO)

Cut Worms – Don’t Fade Out / I’ll Never Make It

Max Clarke’s new double-single is a retro indie pop delight. I’ll Never Make It is laced with quivering, slap-backed doo-wop lead lines, while Don’t Fade Out wins (our entirely made-up) clip of the week award, thanks to its play-along lyric video, featuring chord diagrams! (MP)

The Armed – Sport of Form

Surely the most well-connected experimental pop band to come out of Detroit, The Armed have announced a new album for August, featuring the likes of – deep breath – Troy Van Leeuwen, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Matt Sweeney, Eric Avery, Josh Klinghoffer and oh so many more. Julien Baker guests on this first single, a typically white-knuckle ride of thundering distortion yin and wistful acoustic yang. There’s nothing else quite like it. Oh, and Iggy Pop is in the video, too. Just because. (MAB)

Brad Paisley – So Many Summers

Without over-complicating things, So Many Summers sees Brad Paisley do what Brad Paisley does best: weave together twangy Tele licks into one blissful sonic concoction, before breaking out the box for an irresistible guitar solo that showcases his immaculate phrasing and feel. (MO)

Robert Finley – What Goes Around (Comes Around)

The Bayou just oozes out of Louisiana singer Robert Finley’s new single, What Goes Around (Comes Around). Producer Dan Auerbach’s touch is all over it, too: from the in the pocket rhythms to the zinging fuzzes and trademark short-but-sweet lead breaks. (MP)

L.S. Dunes – Benadryl Subreddit

The Circa Survive/My Chemical Romance/Coheed & Cambria supergroup have dropped their first material since last year’s debut album Past Lives and it continues their rollicking good form. We will say there’s something a little more classic rock about Benadryl Subreddit, though – so much so that Travis Stever even deploys the widdly-widdly-woo pentatonic lick. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. (MAB)

Taking Back Sunday – The One

An anthemic comeback effort from alt-rock powerhouse Taking Back Sunday, who have returned for their first track in four years in awe-inspiring style: expect delay-tinged riffs that will have you reaching for your pedalboard, lashings of ambient leads and dense layers of soaring guitar motifs. (MO)

Myth of I – Jenova

Prog-metal duo Tyler Fritzel and Jennings Smith cover a lot of ground on this planet-hopping heavy tour de force – and we’re not just talking about the mammoth fretboards of their custom eight-strings. There are some death-defying tapping runs here and rhythmic idiosyncrasies that are as mind-bendingly intricate as Animals as Leaders and co. (MAB)

Also on this week’s playlist…

  • Classless Act – Storm Before the Calm (feat. Darryl “DMC” McDaniels)
  • Dominic Fike – Mama’s Boy
  • Uzumaki - Ugly Hunger
  • My Octopus Mind – Moving Slow
  • Maebe – 50 Words for Bro
  • Hayden Pedigo – Signal of Hope
  • Hannah Wicklund – Hide and Seek
  • Spurv – Urdråpene
  • Heir – Oh America
  • Etta Marcus – Mechanical Bull
  • Blur – St. Charles Square
  • The Fierce & the Dead – Shake the Jar

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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.

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