Johnny Cash’s 1930s Martin makes a comeback – and so does Napster-era crunch: This week's essential guitar tracks

Lucia de la Garza, Eloise Wong, and Bela Salazar of The Linda Lindas perform at the Sonora Tent during the 2023 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 22, 2023 in Indio, California.
(Image credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

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 to the bottom for the latest additions).

Sophie Lloyd – Runaway (feat. Michael Starr)

You know the deal by now: another new release from Sophie Lloyd, another new vocal collaborator, and another spellbinding display of fretboard pyrotechnics. Lloyd seemingly hits new heights with each new single, and Runaway is no exception. Come for the catchy hooks, stay for that blistering shred solo. (MO)

Crypta – The Other Side of Anger

The four-piece at the vanguard of Brazilian death metal release their second album this week, and the breakneck brutality of its final single somehow manages to make a rehearsal space that looks nicer than our living rooms feel intimidating. The lighting also serves to highlight the whip-smart playing of Jéssica di Falchi and Tainá Bergamaschi, who wield technicality and melodicism in equal measure. (MAB)

Graveyard – Twice

Sweden’s Graveyard are a supremely dependable go-to if you like your tubes toasty and your denim doubled. I is an early taster of new album, 6, and is based around an addictively shuffling rhythm that manages to squeeze in a wailing SG lead every time vocalist Joakim Nilsson takes a breath. Approved. (MP)

The Linda Lindas – Resolution/Revolution

LA’s most beloved teen punks are back with a propulsive new tune that rewards repeated listens. Sure, there are all the buzzsaw downstrokes you could ever want if that’s what you’re here for, but dig deeper and you’ll find some twangy garage-surf guitar weirdness – especially in the choruses. A one-dimensional group The Linda Lindas are not. (JM)

The Dip – Beautiful Stranger

No, this isn’t a Rolling Stones record – but those tremolo-tinged opening riffs and piercing lead licks sure make it sound like one for a beat. Instead, Beautiful Stranger is the latest effort from rising soulful blues rock ensemble The Dip, who dial in a retro rock ‘n’ roll feel by way of old-school six-string soundbites. A true time capsule track. (MO)

BXRRELL – Mess With Me

Sophie Burrell is one of the most tasteful guitarists to emerge from the YouTube generation, but her new musical project leans into her Paramore and Billie Eilish influences. With the likes of Sleep Token blending big guitars and contemporary R&B beats, BXRRELL is tapping into a hot new genre-defiant trend. Burrell’s co-guitarist Sped Spedding tackles the leads here, but his touch and feel are more than a match for the band’s namesake virtuoso. (MAB)

Lindsay Lou – Shame (ft. Billy Strings)

Lou’s latest is about embracing all the aspects of your personality without shame and is propelled along with ’70s soft rock edge that calls to mind Fleetwood Mac in the airy chorus vocal and interspersed guitar licks. As such, it’s appropriate that guest guitarist and bluegrass talent Billy Strings taps into a different side of his playing with a soulful, bend-laden solo that calls to mind The War On Drugs and heartland rockers. (MP)

Wilco – Evicted

Chicago’s long-running alt-rock institution stuck to simple but rock-solid songcraft on their most recent offering, last year’s Cruel Country, and from the sounds of lead single Evicted, that album’s follow-up, Cousin, may not contain any 11-minute Krautrock jams, either. Nels Cline doesn’t stay completely silent on Evicted, though, seasoning this immaculately written song with plenty of country-ish and jangling, Peter Buck-like fills and exclamation points. (JM)

Mitski – Bug Like an Angel

The dreamy acoustic strums and an even dreamier vocal flow of Bug Like an Angel ushers in news of Mitski’s upcoming album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, with its lead single previewing the indie artist’s seventh LP in heavenly fashion. It’s a relatively contained song, but the album it paves the way for is said to be Mitski’s “most sonically expansive, epic, and wise album to date”. As far as record teases go, that ain’t half-bad. (MO)

Nervosa – Seed of Death

The latest cut from Brazilian thrashers Nervosa, opens like a Metallica ballad, but it updates the formula with an anthemic metalcore-adjacent chorus, sandwiched between effortlessly tight palm-muted ragers from Prika Amaral and Helena Kotina. Note to videographers everywhere: more guitar solos on massive picturesque bridges, please. (MAB)

Will Joseph Cook – Punchin’

‘Your daddy don’t like me, or my guitar’. No, not you – rather the partner of Will Joseph Cook, if we have to be specific. The UK singer-songwriter pens some beautiful lofi indie pop, and his new EP Novella is laced through with funky rhythm lines and crunching tonal texture. Punchin’ tackles the thorny issue of trying to impress your partner’s dad – with a nice little solo payoff at the close. (MP)

Speedy Ortiz – Ghostwriter

The music video for Ghostwriter – the new single from Sadie Dupuis and co.’s upcoming album, Rabbit Rabbit – has a tongue-in-cheek nu-metal theme that becomes less of a joke when the song’s riff kicks in. Said riff packs enough of a punch that you’ll want to hit the ‘bass boost’ button while playing the CD on your crappy boombox with the already blown-out speakers. Of course, though, it’s not all Napster-era crunch in the guitar department – Dupuis wrangles an incredibly catchy lead motif in the chorus out of that Flying V. (JM)

The String Revolution – Folsom Prison Blues (ft. Tommy Emmanuel)

You’ve never heard Johnny Cash like this before. LA acoustic virtuosos The String Revolution bring us this breezily inventive, finely fretted take on Folsom Prison Blues with the help of Tommy Emmanuel and producer John Carter Cash – who brought along Cash’s 1930s Martin for the ride… (MP)

Prong – Non-Existence

Tommy Victor’s metal mainstays return after four years away with this weighty slab of downtuned chug. Non-Existence is as no-nonsense as modern hard rock gets, with enormous guitar layers and the kind of Dual Rectifier chonk that dominated internet radio throughout the early ’00s. (MAB)

Also on this week’s playlist…

  • Tinyumbrellas – Paper Planes
  • Zilched – Earthly Delights
  • Sheer Mag – All Lined Up
  • Towa Bird – This Isn't Me
  • Ida Mae – Wild Flying Dove

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.