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From blockbuster hard-rock collabs to heroic dance-punk epics: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Jim James performs with My Morning Jacket at the End of the Road Festival at Larmer Tree Gardens on September 5, 2015
(Image credit: Burak Cingi/Redferns/Getty Images)

We know. We know that, for the past four months, every time you’ve opened your phone or turned on your computer in the morning you’ve essentially been greeted by the news of the 10 Plagues of Egypt all occurring at once. 

Which is why we feel it’s important to provide you folks with a bit of a break, in the form of the best new music to soothe your nerves, and soundtrack these crazy times. 

Here at Guitar World HQ, we have our ears tuned into a lot of different frequencies, so our best-of-the-week playlist is crammed with a country-by-way-of-R&B-and-psychedelia earworm from My Morning Jacket, a collaborative effort from two of America’s biggest hard-rocking riff merchants, the highly anticipated return from an iconic industrial band and much more.

So disconnect, clear your mind a bit and enjoy some groundbreaking new pieces of music.

My Morning Jacket - Climbing The Ladder

Listening to this Kentucky five-piece institution can be really annoying sometimes. 

Mind you, The Waterfall II, their first new album in five years, is a phenomenally eclectic buffet of everything that’s made them one of the greatest and most enduring American rock bands of the 21st century. But that’s part of the problem!

Who else can stuff straight-out-of-a-country-station pedal steel twang, R&B grooves and a psychedelic solo into a three-minute song without breaking a sweat, and make it catchy as hell at the same time? That’s just not fair. (JM)

Black Stone Cherry and Monster Truck - Love Become Law

Two of America’s biggest 21st-century hard-rock juggernauts have joined forces for this charity single under The Cherry Truck Band banner.

The resultant track is a veritable riff fest, with sledgehammer hook after sledgehammer hook, building to a colossal chorus. Naturally, there are multiple solos, too.

All proceeds from the single will go to charities chosen by the bands: Black Stone Cherry will give to The Boys and Girls Club of America, while Monster Truck will donate to Black Lives Matter. (MAB)

Curt Chambers - Good Thing

Curt Chambers might just be the most famous guitarist you’ve never heard of. The two-time Grammy winner has toured the world with the likes of Travis Barker, Rihanna and Jay-Z, and written tracks with Eminem, Lenny Kravitz and Dr. Dre.

Based on that astonishing résumé, you’d expect a lot from his own material, and Good Thing is a hook-laden, country-meets-R&B anthem for whatever summer 2020 entails, complete with an absolutely searing octave-drenched solo. (MAB)

Gerard Way - Here Comes The End (feat. Judith Hill)

Last year saw the monumental announcement of My Chemical Romance’s return and subsequent string of tour dates, however the COVID-19 pandemic forced the emo-rockers to reschedule for 2021. As with any modern musician, however, the time indoors has done little to suppress the creative urge for frontman Gerard Way.

His latest solo track Here Comes The End - written for his Netflix series The Umbrella Academy - is a jubilant indie-pop banger featuring singer-songwriter Judith Hill. With a blissful undercurrent of clean guitar chords throughout and a perfectly fitting guitar solo, it’s clear that Way’s still got serious songwriting nous. (SR)

Static-X - Terminator Oscillator

Get ready to feel a wave of nostalgia for the nu-metal heyday of the early 2000s. Static-X - a band who, after breaking up in 2013, suffered the loss of frontman Wayne Static a year later - return with Project Regeneration, Vol. 1, the first of two full-length albums featuring mysterious new vocalist Xer0 (now confirmed on album credits as Dope frontman Edsel Dope). The album also contains snippets of material recorded by Static himself before he died.

While the entire album is peppered with furious guitar moments, Terminator Oscillator contains a perfect balance of synth lines and distorted six-string riffs, each offering an instrumental all and response which, when placed underneath the aggressive vocals, create an impressively balanced arrangement. (SR)

Asylums - Who Writes Tomorrow's Headlines?

The sounds of the ’90s from both sides of the Atlantic collide in this Steve Albini-produced banger from the UK indie-rockers.

Who Writes Tomorrow's Headlines? combines the big Tele twangs of Britpop with the warbly leads and head-nodding hooks of US slacker pop to intoxicating effect. New album Genetic Cabaret lands next week. (MAB)

The OBGMs - Not Again

Not Again is only the second single from this Canadian punk trio’s self-titled debut album, but from the sounds of it, they’re fully ready to take on the world.

Guitarist/vocalist Densil McFarlane delivers his self-deprecating lyrics with the sneer and bulldozing attitude of Keith Morris-era Black Flag, but his riffing and hooks could give even the Billie Joe Armstrongs of the world a run for their money. Keep these guys on your radar for sure. (JM)

Nana Adjoa - No Room

Dutch-Ghanaian singer-songwriter Nana Adjoa is actually a trained jazz bass player, but she’s a dab hand with a six-string, too, as this sweet, soothing track emphasizes.

Nylon-string arpeggiations collide with ethereal electric dubs, resulting in a sonic portrait that’s as gloriously hazy as the track’s nostalgic video. (MAB)

The Hunna - I Wanna Know

Hertfordshire, UK-based punk rockers The Hunna return with a slamming new EP, I Wanna Know. The group’s first recorded material since 2018’s Dare, it’s a pop-meets-punk rock riot loaded with tons of creative guitar work and even an appearance from Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.

The EP’s title track features fabulously fuzz-driven guitar lines underpinning pop-esque vocals throughout, and an unexpectedly heavy closing breakdown. (SR)

Future Islands - For Sure

We need music in general now more than ever, but this Baltimore trio - specializing in danceable, rocking anthems packed with skydiving and rollercoaster-level adrenaline surges - sure picked a perfect time to return!

These guys have always been chorus artisans, and the one that kicks their new single, For Sure, into the stratosphere is one of the most exhilarating that they’ve ever recorded. 

With luscious synths, a propulsive and funky bassline and offbeat, stabbing guitar leads that are right in line with the infectious, nervous energy of the song, this is the heroic dance-punk epic you didn’t know you needed. (JM)

Zella Day - Purple Haze

Dan Auerbach has a great ear for finding exciting new voices, and this ’60s-vibed track by Arizona singer-songwriter Zella Day is no exception.

Now, it takes a brave artist to name a track Purple Haze, but we reckon Day’s psychedelic stoner anthem would be right up Hendrix’s street - especially once he heard Auerbach’s tasteful whammy bar wobbles and propulsive unison guitar/basslines. (MAB)