This week’s essential guitar tracks: thrash wigouts that sound like Tool on acid and the best MTV video pastiche you’ll see all month

My Ugly Clementine
(Image credit: My Ugly Clementine/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).

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Dragon

The world’s most prolific jam band go full beast mode on this uncompromisingly heavy nine-minute thrash wigout that sounds like Tool on acid. Its runtime allows for plenty of epic guitar harmonization – appropriate given the band’s forthcoming LP is titled PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation. There goes our word count. (MAB)

Gov't Mule – Made My Peace

Radiating with vintage warmth and a Summer of Love-like desire to expand the listener’s mind in epic fashion, Made My Peace puts Warren Haynes & co’s powerful sound through a Magical Mystery Tour-like prism. You can hear Haynes channel every last one of his woes into the song’s wailing riff, but its stunning closing solo – a bluesy blowout with silky phrases and biting emotional climaxes á la Clapton in his prime – is the real treat. (JM)

My Ugly Clementine – Feet Up

There’s a lot to love here. Firstly, Feet Up is carpeted by a flat overloaded octave-fuzz tone that is absolutely addictive, secondly it’s neatly contrasted with a gang-style chorus that will not leave your head until approximately Thanksgiving and, finally, it’s packaged with a clip that is an absolute joy for fans of 2000s MTV – how many references can you spot? (MP)

Nita Strauss – Victorious ft. Dorothy

The Ibanez virtuoso melds ’80s and modern-day arena rock in this fist-pumper of a single. Strauss leans into a nasty powerchord grind for much of the track before her solo showcases some tasty note choices, not to mention a Brian May-esque harmonized climax. There are some slinky blues licks in that breakdown, too. (MAB)

Towa Bird – Boomerang 

Bursting at the seams with pop-punk bounce and swaggering hooks, Boomerang is highlighted by a heroic solo from Bird that touches quickly on her impressive chops before getting onto the important stuff – hammering those aforementioned hooks into your head with authority. (JM)

Empire State Bastard – Stutter

The passion project of Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil and former Oceansize frontman Mike Vennart continue their absurdly sludgy form on the second track from their debut album Rivers of Heresy, due in September. Propelled by Dave Lombardo’s impossible drum work, Stutter worships at the altar of The Riff, paying homage to Lords Black Sabbath and Slayer. (MAB)

Ratboys - It’s Alive

The Chicago band return for their fourth record with this killer slice of crunching, whimsical melodic rock. The hooks are matched only by the killer selection of oddball and vintage guitar gear in the video – frontperson Julia Steiner’s Dano-inspired Nepco V, in particular. It’s like a vintage guitar store window in motion and we are fully here for it. (MP)

Vintage Trouble – Shinin’

If there’s a cooler guitar break than the buttery smooth lead licks Nalle Colt deploys in this feelgood groover from the Hollywood blues-rock dynamos, we’ve yet to hear it. Infectious stuff. (MAB)

JOHN - Service Stationed

A driving, guttural punk tune with elements of proto-metal in the rumbling guitar tone. There’s a bouncing, mechanical riff that will stick in your head for weeks and a video with gratuitous pedalboard shots, so all in all, we’re very happy. +10 ‘board points for the 1981 DRV. (MP)

Cold War Kids – Double Life

The new single from the California indie rockers has an infectious, youthful energy reminiscent of early rockabilly. Its riff is nothing precious, but will make you wanna stop what you’re doing, plug in, and play, like all the best riffs should. (JM)

Teenage Wrist – Still Love (feat. Softcult)

Shoegaze-loving fuzz enthusiasts Teenage Wrist join forces with Canadian musical contemporaries Softcult on this anthemic ’90s-tinged banger, replete with a finger-twisting baritone verse riff and a chorus indebted to frontman Marshall Gallagher’s Sunny Day Real Estate addiction over the pandemic. (MAB)

Drab Majesty - Vanity (feat. Rachel Goswell)

Single-handedly – well, alright, two-handedly – bringing back the Ovation bowlback sound, Drab Majesty’s newbie feels like The Cocteau Twins and Depeche Mode engaged in 12-string tryst  – channeling a psyched-up electronic-shoegaze sound around a warping arpeggio. A guest vocal from Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell is the blissed-out cherry on top. (MP)

The Handsome Family – Joseph

The lead single and track from the beloved alt-country duo’s new album, Hollow, was inspired by a dream. Indeed, Brett Sparks’ evocative solo – one of Joseph’s highlights – has a dream-like quality, with a beautiful melodic arc. (JM)

Will Haven – Diablito

The reformed ’90s alt-metal trailblazers and Deftones tour mates have dropped the first taste of seventh album VII, and it’s a doozie – Diabilito’s mashup of serrated chugs, ambient soundscapes and Dillinger-style thrash makes for a white-knuckle four minutes. (MAB)

This Is The Kit - Stuck in a Room

So often when the guitar forms ‘the backbone’ of an arrangement, it totally dominates it. Stuck in a Room is the antithesis of that – a clever composition that uses a skittering central guitar line and knits a rich, cascading instrumental structure around it. (MP)

TEKE::TEKE – Hoppe

The Japanese art-surf rockers go full prog on this psychedelic freakout of a single that features a series of frantic solos from guitarist Serge Nakauchi Pelletier. Think Dick Dale meets Frank Zappa and you won’t be far off. (MAB)

Ida Mae - My Whispers Are Wildfire

There’s a little bit of Tom Waits’ guitarist Marc Ribot to be heard in Chris Turpin’s animalistic playing here. Indeed, the British roots player seems to use his six-string to summon a sort of grunting, shuffling beast – the solo sounds less like something let off the leash and more like a sort of choked spirit howling and straining to escape. (MP)

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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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