Silver Sky meets Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jonny Greenwood goes stoner rock: this week’s essential guitar tracks

Rocco
Rocco: really loves that Strat (Image credit: BMG)

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).

Baroness – Last Word

We’ve already made our case for Last Word containing one of this year’s most jaw-dropping metal solos, as Gina Gleason lets rip with some explosive hybrid picking and modal runs. But let’s also give a shoutout to her six-string compatriot John Baizley, who has recorded some of the best guitar tones of his career here, making a strong case for the mix-scything power of single coils in metal. (MAB)

Ichika Nito – Home

What did you expect? Japanese virtuoso Ichika Nito delivers the good once again, tapping into the cleaner-than-clean guitar tone of his Ibanez Quest signature model for ethereal chord/melody lines and death-defying runs that will make your brain hurt. It’s also two minutes long, which, for the short form six-string specialist, is a bonus. (MO)

Beck, Bogert & Appice – Superstition (Live at the Rainbow Theatre, London, UK 1/26/74)

Opening with some pre-Frampton Comes Alive! talk box action, this newly-uncovered live version of Stevie Wonder’s funk classic (which itself was written with Jeff Beck) absolutely rips. Wonder’s version might be the one that still gets played on radio stations around the world, but it sure ain’t this heavy. Beck’s solo is unsurprisingly sublime, but what’s most amazing about it isn’t its gonzo displays of fearlessness, it’s the sheer power. No band ever needed a second guitarist less… (JM)

The Smile – Bending Hectic

And the award for most agonizingly slow bend of 2023 goes to… Jonny Greenwood, who makes his Les Paul sound like a weeping puppy in the intro to the latest single from the Radiohead offshoot. Bending Hectic starts out as their most Radiohead song yet in its ambitious structure and orchestration. Then, suddenly, it becomes their most stonerific as Greenwood engages his new favorite pedal, the Boris-approved EarthQuaker Devices Hizumitas Fuzz Sustainar for a crushing descending chord progression and acerbic noise solo. Electrifying. (MAB)

Laurence Jones – Bad Luck & the Blues

Bad Luck & The Blues sees Laurence Jones bridge the gap between the modern design of his PRS SE Silver Sky and the throwback blues tones of Stevie Ray Vaughan et al. Expect swashbuckling pentatonic licks aplenty, and don’t miss that infectious solo at the 2:20 mark. (MO)

Slowdive – Kisses

A lot of guitarists who chat with us say they care more about creating leads that you can sing than leads that will leave you impressed with their technical acumen. The dreamy, sugary riff that drives Kisses – the first single from the shoegaze heroes’ fifth LP, everything is alive – certainly falls into the former category, and is almost impossible to get out of your head once it gets stuck in there. (JM)

Cannibal Corpse – Blood Blind

The addition of Erik Rutan to the death metal icons’ lineup breathed fresh life into the Corpse for 2021’s Violence Unimagined, and Chaos Horrific, his second effort with the group, seeks to explore heavier territory while expanding the band’s dynamics. Blood Blind barely lets up in its devastation, with a middle eight riff that sounds like a revving chainsaw right in your inner ear, while the solo interplay between Rutan’s alternate-picked fury and Rob Barrett’s eerie whammy bar wails is positively spine-chilling. (MAB)

Lance Lopez – Jam with Me

Slide solos and swaggering double-stops are the order of business for Jam with Me, the latest single from Texas blues veteran Lance Lopez, who harnesses his guitar heritage and channels his pedigree for three-plus minutes of Gibson Firebird-fueled fretboard antics. (MO)

Faye Webster – But Not Kiss

The piano does a lot of the talking on this beguiling new standalone single from Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Faye Webster, but we have to crow about her rhythm tone – the jewelry store display window-like cleans are just spellbinding. (JM)

Brad – Hey Now What’s the Problem?

Pearl Jam stalwart Stone Gossard’s long-running side project has released their second new single from forthcoming full-length In the Moment That You're Born, the band’s first new album in 10 years, featuring recordings made by late singer Shawn Smith prior to his passing in 2019. Hey Now What’s the Problem? channels the grungier side of Gossard’s rhythm approach, with a slowed-down Stooges swagger and single-note Bigsby shimmers. (MAB)

Rocco – In the Morning

Ears need a break from the playlist’s high-gain action? You’ll find solace in Rocco’s soft jazz number In the Morning – an irresistibly smooth effort propped up by standard acoustic turnarounds. We might not be Saxophone World, but that sax action deserves a nod, too. (MO)

Ariana Delawari – Cloak of Lies

Inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale, the new single from Afghan-American singer/songwriter and guitarist Ariana Delawari paints an unsettling picture with a simple, expressive guitar motif that leads the song off, and re-appears ominously throughout. You can count the notes of the motif on one hand, but Delawari – with Gilmour-like feeling – speaks a thousand words with each. (JM)

Palehound – Independence Day

Balancing the best of palm-muted acoustic progressions, warbling basslines and fuzz-drenched electrics, Independence Day from Palehound – aka El Kempner – is highlighted by an earworm guitar riff of the highest order. Excuse us while we reach for our guitars to suss it out. (MO)

Woods – Between the Past

Half of the two-sided lead single from the long-running NYC indie band’s forthcoming LP, Perennial, Between the Past has a whimsical quality reminiscent of Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles. Along those lines, its none-simpler solo has a funhouse mirror atmosphere that serves the song perfectly. (JM)

Neal Morse – Like a Wall

Strap yourself in for the wild ride that is Neal Morse’s new single, Like a Wall. The first preview from an upcoming album, the track is a high-octane roller coaster, scattered with topsy turvy twisty turnaround licks and pummeling progressions. (MO)

Also on this week’s playlist…

  • Matteo Mancuso – Samba Party
  • Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons – Schizophrenia
  • Sleepwalking Animals – Romy
  • Roosevelt – Luna
  • NewDad – Break In
  • Hail the Sun – Under the Floor
  • Kvelertak – Skoggangr
  • Oxymorrons – Graveyard Words
  • VEXED – Trauma Euphoria
  • Signs of the Swarm – Malady
  • Of Virtue – Cut Me Open
  • Memphis May Fire – Misery
  • Mike Mains & the Branches – We’re Alive

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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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