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From acoustic puzzles to terrifying shred: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Kaki King performs live
(Image credit: Waleed Shaw)

Given team GW are currently holed up inside our respective homes with no live music for the foreseeable, we're craving anything that shakes up the status quo. And accordingly, this week's onslaught of piping hot guitar tracks scratches every six-string itch we've been feeling lately.

Here, you'll find everything from introspective acoustic to upbeat post-punk, punishing drop-tuned bombast and, courtesy of Khurangbin, just about every style of guitar playing from around the world.

We can't think of anything better to see us all into the weekend. Enjoy!

Kaki King - Teek

Life has precious few certainties. The sun will rise in the morning, you’ll have to pay your taxes every year and - whenever she picks up an acoustic guitar - Kaki King will come up with something absolutely mind-blowing. 

Teek, the first single from Modern Yesterdays - King’s first studio album in five years - grabs you from its very first phrase. There’s something inexplicably off-kilter about its progression, but its sheer beauty is what will stick around in your head.

King’s skills as a composer are on full, glorious display throughout - as layers upon layers of acoustic guitar twist themselves together into a puzzle you can’t solve, or take your eyes off of.

Even though she’s been around for almost two decades now, it still feels like we’re light-years behind King and where she’s taking the acoustic guitar. (JM)

Michael Angelo Batio - The Badlands

An inspiration to the likes of Tom Morello, John Petrucci and Dimebag Darrell. The guitarist most likely to literally melt faces with his awe-inspiring speed. The only living organism capable of shredding across quadruple guitar necks. There is only one Michael Angelo Batio, and he’s back with a gnarly new single and album, More Machine Than Man.

With the spooky whammy dives, sinister note choices and rapid-fire bursts of alternate picking, an uneasy feeling pervades The Badlands - and that’s exactly what the track calls for, proving MAB is a master of mood, not just the fretboard. (The Other MAB)

Northlane - Enemy Of The Night

Aussie metallers Northlane have made a seismic ripple in the metal community as of late, partly owing to the success of their heavier-than-lead 2019 album, Alien. It was a record that defined and cemented the group’s electronic-infused sound, and this week we’ve been treated to more.

With guitars drop-tuned so low they could pass for basses, Enemy Of The Night is another home run for the Sydney five-piece. (SR)

Khurangbin - So We Won’t Forget

Looking for guitar music that incorporates a wide variety of sounds and influences? They don’t come much more eclectic and difficult to pin down musically than Khurangbin.

So We Won’t Forget, taken from the Texas trio’s upcoming album, Mordechai, is no exception to this rule. While the funky bassline gives the song its anchor, Mark Speer’s guitar playing goes around the world - touching on surf, Afrobeat and classic American R&B, all with the surreal ambience of a great Spaghetti Western soundtrack.

Open your ears to this song, and you’ll be exploring new ways to think about the guitar in no time. (JM)

Madeline Kenney - Sucker

For her third record, Oakland, CA singer-songwriter Madeline Kenney has recruited Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack on production duties, and the result is her most cinematic set of recordings yet.

Kenney’s dreamy single-coil tones have never sounded more enveloping than on this lead-off single, with swathes of modulated chords and wistful treble-string melodies. Gorgeous, life-affirming stuff. (MAB)

DevilDriver - Keep Away From Me

In previous editions of this column, we’ve covered artists who have released material that appears oddly apt for the times in which we live. DevilDriver, however, leave nothing to interpretation.

The Californian metal group this week unveiled Keep Away From Me, a furious message-driven track with a video that takes aim squarely at the issues surrounding COVID-19. It comes as the first single of the band’s upcoming double album Dealing With Demons (the first edition expected October 9).

Aside from its powerful message, the track boasts all that modern metal guitarists could possibly want: drop-tuned guitars, gain dialed to 11 and pinch harmonics aplenty. (SR)

Joff Oddie - To Mr Fahey

The Wolf Alice guitarist has unplugged his humongous pedalboard for now to shine a light on one of his primary loves outside of the alt-rock juggernauts: folk guitar instrumentals.

To Mr Fahey is Oddie’s ode to fingerstyle colossus John Fahey, and certainly pays tribute to his style, with some neat alternating bass and melodic ideas. All proceeds from the sale of To Mr Fahey will go towards the Trussell Trust, which supports food banks in the UK. (MAB)

IDLES - Mr. Motivator

The UK alt-rock agitators’ latest is a rainbow of positivity encased in a concrete slab of punk. It’s as noisy and anarchic as anything the Bristol five-piece has put out in the past, with Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan’s spiky, sinister guitar lines very much in evidence, but galvanized with an unapologetic can-do attitude - something we could all do with right now. (MAB)