From Ulrich-fueled fuzz riffs to unadulterated raucous rock: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Laura Cox
(Image credit: earMUSIC)

Welcome to Guitar World’s weekly roundup of the musical highlights from the, erm, world of guitar. 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.

Taipei Houston – The Middle

What is it? A Bay Area bass and drums duo composed of Myles and Layne Ulrich. And yes, their dad is Lars Ulrich. And yes, the fact that there’s technically no guitar on show makes this a tricky inclusion, but there was either some six-string action in the studio or some pitch-shifting trickery, so we’ll allow it.

Despite their formidable lineage, the pair sound closer to Royal Blood than Metallica: gnarly fuzz riffs are the order of the day, and they’re delivered with fury and precision in equal measure. Expect big things when new release Once Bit Never Bored drops on November 4.

Standout guitar moment: The Middle is a veritable riff-fest all the way through, but the double-time riff that drops just after the two-minute mark is the kind of hook Josh Homme will be kicking himself for missing.

For fans of: Royal Blood, Queens of the Stone Age, Haggard Cat

– Michael Astley-Brown

Laura Cox – One Big Mess 

What is it? On Monday, Laura Cox announced her new album, Head Above Water, which will be the blues rock ace’s first full-length LP since 2019’s Burning Bright. Accompanying the news was lead single One Big Mess, the cover of which sees Cox standing with a sunburst Gibson Les Paul Junior. 

Whether she used that guitar in particular for the track is unclear, but whatever Cox did use, she absolutely went to town on it. Don’t be fooled by the slow, swampy opening passage: One Big Mess knocks the wind out of you and gets kicked into fifth gear before you can get settled, and what follows is four minutes of unadulterated raucous rock action.

Standout guitar moment: The opening act is top notch. The improvised noodles lure listeners in with sultry minor pentatonic licks, but the sense of security is swiftly snatched away when those charging power chords come out of blue. A cheeky but brilliant way to get listeners hooked after a three-year studio hiatus.

For fans of: Joanne Shaw Taylor, Marcus King, Billy Gibbons, Jane Lee Hooker

– Matt Owen

Alyssa Day – Dread & Dream

What is it? The debut solo single from Mindscar guitarist, six-string influencer, and Jackson ambassador Alyssa Day. Easily one of the most memorable electric guitar tracks of the year to date, Dread & Dream is brimming with knockout lead antics, including uber-melodic harmonies, gravity-defying sweeps, swift alternate picking runs and oh, so much more.

Its accompanying video is equally killer, with Day showcasing Jackson’s new California-made American Series Soloist SL3 – which launched earlier this month – while an actual snake attempts to throw her off her playing, but to no avail.

Standout guitar moment: In a five-and-a-half-minute track that’s essentially one long solo, it’s hard to choose one moment that shines above the rest. But the solo that begins at 4:00 right after the clean section is relentlessly complex, and played with enviable aplomb.

For fans of: Steve Vai, Polyphia, Joe Satriani

Sam Roche

Chris Shiflett – Born & Raised 

What is it? Contrary to what you might think, it is not a cover of John Mayer’s track of the same name, but in fact a new composition from Foo Fighter and part-time country heavyweight Chris Shiflett. Littered with catchy hooks and classically country licks that descend down the fretboard with glass-like clarity, Born & Raised is Shiflett untethered, giving the guitarist free roam to do what he does best: play some seriously sick guitar lines.

Standout guitar moment: The sporadic supportive licks that harness a none-more-country vibe weave throughout the track very nicely indeed, adding an additional layer to Shiflett’s sonic tapestry before culminating as a quick-fire solo at the 1:40 mark. A very impressive lead performance.

For fans of: Brad Paisley, Caroline Jones, Brent Mason

– Matt Owen

Tropical Gothclub – Double Blind

What is it? The latest output from Dean Fertita, aka multi-instrumentalist from a few up-and-coming beat combos you may have heard of, namely Queens of the Stone Age, The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs. Double Blind is as woozy and psychedelic as the name suggests, all wobbly vibrato guitars, hazy synths and breezy acoustics. 

Given the track follows the stomping voodoo riffs of previous single Wheels Within Wheels, its laid-back ’60s vibes suggest Fertita’s forthcoming full-length will be an eclectic affair indeed.

Standout guitar moment: Fertita’s cheeky hammer-on/pull-off leads in the middle section are a great example of the unique voice and distinct personality his playing lends to any project.

For fans of: Queens of the Stone Age, Tame Impala, The Dead Weather

– Michael Astley-Brown

Morgan Reid – Djinn & Juice

What is it? The third single from up-and-coming shred guitarist Morgan Reid’s imminent debut full-length, Terran. Wielding an Ibanez seven-string guitar, the Toronto-born virtuoso – who also plays guitar in English death metal outfit Bloodshot Dawn – serves a clutch of highly catchy pull off licks over a bed of rhythmic chugs, before tapping into the fretboard’s upper registers for a selection of soaring bends and the occasional eye-watering sweep.

While not immediately apparent, the rhythm section of Djinn & Juice finds Reid channeling his early gangster rap influences. “The parallels between rap and metal aren’t always apparent, but they live in my musical DNA,” he says.

Standout guitar moment: The track shifts into an even higher gear from the 2:50 mark, with everything from effortless descending legato runs and frenetic alternate picking passages to incredibly melodic multi-string two-handed tapping.

For fans of: Jason Richardson, Polyphia, Steve Vai

Sam Roche

Mother Vulture – Homemaker

What is it? Like big juicy riffs, do you? Furnished with a side of scuzzy Orange amp tones? And you want an earworm chorus dip? It’s a tall order, but UK blues-punk merchants Mother Vulture have dispatched new single Homemaker via some kind of aural Uber Eats direct to your ears, and we’re confident you’ll be satisfied. Just don’t forget to tip.

Standout guitar moment: Besides swinging the swaggiest Gretsch we’ve seen in some time, guitarist Brodie Maguire also delivers one of this year’s chonkiest tones with that opening fuzz salvo. Nom.

For fans of: Cleopatrick, Tigercub, Pulled Apart By Horses

– Michael Astley-Brown

Willow – curious/furious 

What is it? She had plenty of doubters when she first embarked on her guitar quest last year, but Willow is proving she has both the chops and songwriting maturity to justify the career change – a change that is seeing her emerge as one of today’s stand-out punk-rock guitar artists.

Point in case is curious/furious, the latest single from her upcoming album, COPINGMECHANISM, which continues Willow's trajectory from R&B star to guitar hero in impeccable fashion. It’s got all the hallmarks of a great Willow track: razor-like gain tones with enough potency to singe your eyebrows and an awesome outro lead line, no doubt executed from the fretboard of her Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent model.

Standout guitar moment: We were tempted by the chorus action, but it has to be the outro solo, which closes out the track in style with plenty of modulation, lashings octave action and a considerable amount of attitude.

For fans of: Yungblud, Machine Gun Kelly, Girl in Red

– Matt Owen

Bush – Heavy is the Ocean

What is it? An explosive track from The Art of Survival, the forthcoming ninth album by long-standing British rockers, Bush. Kicking off with a moody, chunky bassline courtesy of Corey Britz, Heavy is the Ocean sounds like a series of monolithic tsunami waves, shifting on between its gargantuan riff-driven intro and chorus sections and more subdued, clean-guitar-infused verses.

Standout guitar moment: Lead guitarist Chris Traynor offers a simple-but-effective solo from the 3:20 mark, crafted as an instrumental extension of Gavin Rossdale’s vocals.

For fans of: Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains

Sam Roche

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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.