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From certified ragers to haunting, meditative fretboard excursions: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts performs during 2019 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 14, 2019 in Manchester, Tennessee.
Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts (Image credit: Erika Goldring/WireImage)

Fall has arrived, and when it comes to new tunes with which to soundtrack the season, we’ve been spoiled for choice.

In one corner, Tom Morello continues his collaboration hot streak with the appropriately titled, Bring Me The Horizon-featuring Let’s Get the Party Started, in another, Portland, Maine's Weakened Friends bring riffs aplenty with their cathartic pop-punk gem, Quitter.

In another, Ariel Posen unplugs on the gorgeous Tumble Away, and in a fourth, alt-J make a triumphant return with U&ME. All this and more awaits you below, so what are ya waiting for?

Tom Morello – Let’s Get the Party Started (feat. Bring Me The Horizon)

The third track from the Rage Against the Machine firebrand’s forthcoming solo album The Atlas Underground Fire, certified rock ‘n’ roll rager Let’s Get the Party Started sees Morello recruit UK rock heroes Bring Me The Horizon.

Wasting no time getting us in the party spirit, Morello kicks off proceedings with a massive distorted guitar riff, before the electronic influences that characterizes BMTH’s modern-day sound enter the fray for the more subdued verse sections.

This is a track that strikes an almost perfect balance between the two artists’ signature sounds, marrying BMTH’s electronic influences with Morello’s often heavily digitized guitar tone, and Oli Sykes’ raw voice with Morello’s straight-talking guitar riffing. (SR)

Alt-J – U&ME

For anyone missing the halcyon days where guitars took center stage in Alt-J’s sky-scraping compositions, U&ME will be a very welcome return to form.

The track – which is taken from next year’s fourth full-length, The Dream – hinges on a hypnotic Telecaster riff that isn’t far removed from the material that led 2014’s This Is All Yours, bolstered as it is by the band’s trademark unorthodox percussion and keyboard patches.

An extra-special shout out goes to the tasty hammer-on breakdown, which pushes the band further into psychedelic territory. Here’s hoping for more of that when The Dream lands in February 2022. (MAB)

Volbeat – Shotgun Blues

Volbeat have just announced a new album, Servant of the Mind, and if new single Shotgun Blues is anything to go by, it looks like we’re in for some heavier material from the Danish quartet.

Sure, Volbeat’s hardly Volbeat without those instantly infectious, feelgood vocal melodies, but this time, the band dials it back slightly, making way for a destructive selection of riffs – and an impressive solo from guitarist Rob Caggiano – to drive the track forward. (SR)

Parquet Courts – Black Widow Spider

Parquet Courts’ Andrew Savage said that for the band’s new single, Black Widow Spider, he wanted to find “a sound that was equal parts Can, Canned Heat and This Heat.”

Not exactly intuitive, eh? Leave it to this beloved New York quartet though, to successfully stuff all those disparate influences into an air-tight sub-three-minute rocker devoid of an ounce of fat.

Black Widow Spider lies on a grime-coated bed of riffing that – bringing Big Apple punk guitar forbearers like Lou Reed and Johnny Ramone to mind – struts with city-streets-toughness and bravado. 

Just as is the case on Parquet Courts’ other great tunes, for all of its various ambitions, Black Widow Spider the second single from the band’s upcoming LP, Sympathy For Life – never loses sight of that pick-up-and-play garage-rock adrenaline. (JM)  

Unprocessed – Rain

As a viral solo guitar composition from influential virtuoso Manuel Gardner Fernandes, Rain dates back a number of years, but last week saw the release of a full-band rendition from his djent-turned-pop-shred outfit, Unprocessed.

The track’s addictive natural harmonic-driven riff survives the transition intact – complete with those cheeky tapped slides – but its emotional intensity is amplified by the addition of vocals and a new progressive middle section, which builds to a crushing half-time conclusion.

Djent continues to become an increasingly crowded genre, but once again, Unprocessed have stepped well outside its boundaries into a style that’s all their own. (MAB)

Ariel Posen – Tumble Away 

When Ariel Posen picks up his acoustic guitar, utter magic ensues. Well, in fairness, whenever Ariel Posen touches anything with strings, the resulting outcome usually borders on majestic. Not that any of us needed reminding of his insanely proficient chops, the blues guitar titan’s latest release, the unplugged Tumble Away, is yet another testament to his unrivaled abilities.

The tone, almost haunting in nature, is dark and meditative, though explodes into sporadic bursts of color whenever Posen begins to venture further up the fretboard or plucks with a little more agency. It’s 240 seconds of sheer six-string board wizardry and it’s everything that Posen does well, but dialed up to 11.

Once again, Posen goes unaccompanied, and plays rhythm and lead all at once, seemingly hitting every note on the fretboard over the course of four minutes as he silkily weaves together a masterful sonic embroidery that becomes more intricate and exquisite with every listen.

It seems as though the “this is Posen at his best” line gets regularly rehashed, but that’s only because Posen really does just get better and better with every track he releases. (MO)

Spiritbox – Yellowjacket (feat. Sam Carter)

Spiritbox unleashed their monstrous debut album Eternal Blue this week, and for one of its standout cuts, the British Columbia four-piece recruited Architects leader Sam Carter.

The track is a brilliant example of the trajectory of modern metalcore, with increasing levels of electronic instrumentation weaving their way into the traditionally drums-and-guitar-driven genre.

In between its synth-y verse drones, guitarist Mike Stringer serves up no shortage of gain-drenched, savagely drop-tuned riffs, cementing himself as one of the frontrunners of metalcore guitar playing in 2021. (SR)

Weakened Friends – Quitter

The lead single and title track of Quitter – the upcoming sophomore effort from Portland, Maine power trio Weakened Friends – wrestles with self-doubt, paranoia and burn-out with admirable honesty.

And what better way to grapple with those emotions than by grabbing your axe (in the case of the band’s singer and guitarist, Sonia Sturino, a sick-looking Telecaster Custom) and diming everything out?

Sturino sets up the song’s tension-and-release perfectly with restless palm-muting in the verses and a blizzard of distorto-powerchord bliss in the choruses, giving this cathartic piece of pop-punk ear candy some memorable muscle. (JM)

The Record Company – Gotta Be Movin' 

The Record Company mean business. The Grammy-nominated rock outfit are gearing up to release their fourth studio album, Play Loud, and have kept themselves busy this year by way of a string of explosive singles that point towards an offering that will be up there with the very best of the band’s repertoire.

Following the scintillating momentum initiated by How High, Paradise and Out Of My Head, Gotta Be Movin' taps into a decidedly more blues-rock-esque tonal canvas, championed by the gain-dipped fingerpicked opening hook and propped up by the charging instrumentation that – as per the instructions of the title – really gets the listener moving.

Said to be inspired by The Beastie Boys and a desire to harness an old-school aural aesthetic, Gotta Be Movin' delivers on both accounts, and further heightens the hype around the upcoming release.

In a nutshell, there’s a bucketload of sweet tones and an all-you-can-eat buffet of blues-y licks. What more could you want? (MO)

Carwash – Friendship 

Despite having only released a string of sporadic singles over the past three years and a debut EP that only dropped on September 17, Carwash have already amassed an immense following and a resolute fanbase, evidenced by over one million monthly Spotify listeners.

Take a listen to Friendship – the brooding, moody, saturated opener from their EP Soap Water – and you’ll quickly realize why it has taken so little for Carwash to win over legions of fans. Spearheaded by Garrett Seamans, also known by his alt-rock nom de plume Postcard Boy, Carwash have been carried by the multi-instrumentalist’s desire for a more rock-inspired outlet – a desire that has informed their new EP.

The result? An incredibly infectious collection, an abundance of catchy lung-busting vocal hooks and a whole lotta guitars. Friendship is particularly indicative of this direction –  it’s a galloping, almost-three-minutes romp that has a dash of tasty lead licks, an ounce of bendy guitar trills and a healthy helping of ear drum-rumbling bass lines. Not to be missed, for sure. (MO)