From extended blues workouts to cosmic guitar disco: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

 Serra Petale (left) and Nic Crawshaw of Los Bitchos perform live on stage during Wide Awake Festival at Brockwell Park on September 03, 2021 in London
(Image credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

The sun has risen on yet another Thursday, meaning it’s time for us to share our harvest of the past week’s best and most exciting guitar-heavy offerings.

Mitski is back, and in typically phenomenal form, on Working for the Knife, Los Bitchos color irresistibly dance-y rhythms with vivid guitar textures on Las Panteras, Deap Vally bring the fuzz on Magic Medicine, and Trivium show their melodic and brutal sides on The Phalanx.

All that and more guitar-driven greatness awaits you in our playlist below, so press play and turn that ol' volume knob to the right.

Los Bitchos – Las Panteras

Following in the footsteps of Khruangbin – who, as it turns out, are already fans – London collective Los Bitchos fuse world music rhythms and evocative guitar textures that are already proving irresistibly danceable.

They’ve got the credentials to back it up, too, as each member hails from a different corner of the globe. Guitarist Serra Petale seeks to make her Eastwood sound “like Van Halen and Cocteau Twins – but from Turkey”, and judging from the taunt rhythm syncopations and chorus-drenched tones in Las Panteras, she succeeds in her ambition.

Produced by Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, the track is certain to appeal to anyone who digs the otherworldly sounds of Mark Speer, but Los Bitchos give that cosmic-disco sound a shot of adrenaline that takes it into altogether friskier, up-tempo territory. We can’t wait to hear more. (MAB)

Trivium – The Phalanx

Trivium are one of the most bankable metal bands in the world right now. And as they gear up to unleash their 10th studio album, In The Court Of The Dragon – out tomorrow (October 8), it’s clear why.

From the album thus far, the Orlando metallers have released its destructive title track, second single Feast of Fire and now seven-minute heavy metal onslaught, The Phalanx. Of course, Trivium are no strangers to songs of seven minutes and above, and their expertise in the area is more than apparent on this number.

The Phalanx is equal parts melodic, brutal, and jaw-dropping, featuring an abundance of winding solos which weave themselves between the track’s copiousness of guitar riffs. (SR)

Mitski – Working for the Knife

Given the euphoric reception of her effortlessly genre-blending 2018 masterpiece, Be the Cowboy, and the sold-out tour that followed, it couldn’t have been easy for Mitski to settle on the song with which she would re-emerge after the two years out of the limelight that followed.

Working for the Knife though, shows the singer-songwriter in as brilliant form as ever, with turns of phrase that cut deep immediately, and deeper still with further listens and study.

Though driven by synths, the song has all sorts of guitar goodness to sink your teeth into – whether it’s the sunny acoustic strums, the gnarled electric chords that jut out from time to time or the funky rhythm work that comes to fore in the song’s devastating final verse, it’s all cleverly done and fitted perfectly to the song.

Mitski’s meteoric rise from indie obscurity in just a handful of years has been well-deserved, but still remarkable to witness. Something tells us that Working for the Knife – the video for which has racked up over a million views in two days on YouTube – will only fuel it further. (JM)

Deap Vally – Magic Medicine 

This week, LA-based duo Deap Vally announced their first studio album proper in five years – save their 2020 collaborative effort with Flaming Lips – and ushered in the news with this three-and-a-half-minute fuzz-a-thon.

Unsurprisingly, Julie Edwards and Lindsey Troy are on top form, clearly buoyed by their recent collaborative escapades with artists such as Peaches, KT Tunstall, Jennie Vee and more. It’s a no-holds-barred effort that features a boatload of gorgeous guitar playing – check out the quick-fire wah-laden guitar solo at the 2:20 mark – and equally enticing effects work, propped up by some truly arena-sized overdrive sounds.

Likening being in a band to the ups and downs of domestic partnership, the album – aptly titled Marriage – is set to pit Edwards and Lindsey together in a bid to reinvigorate their musical identity by pushing “the limits of what has previously defined us”. Naturally, they’ll succeed, and naturally, it’s going to be great. (MO)

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – High and Lonesome

With the imminent arrival of their first album in 14(!) years, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss have teased the odd excerpt from its tracklisting – which is predominantly composed of covers of the likes of Merle Haggard, Allen Toussaint, the Everly Brothers, and Bert Jancsh – but High and Lonesome marks the record’s sole original composition.

Written by Plant and producer T-Bone Burnett – who also handles guitar duties alongside Marc Ribot – High and Lonesome more than recaptures the magic of Raising Sand, as gently chugging six-strings and pushed-tweed leads underpin orchestral sweeps that recall Plant’s Unledded days. Add in the fact that his lower register just gets better with age, and this is sublime stuff. (MAB)

Gov't Mule - Snatch It Back And Hold It

The blues’ presence has always been significant in the music of Gov’t Mule, but the band’s upcoming LP, Heavy Load Blues, is the quartet’s first album to be dedicated wholly to the genre.

The first single from the album, Heavy Load, was as bare-bones as it gets, serving as a showcase for the acoustic side of Warren Haynes’ enviable six-string skills. 

On their new version of Junior Wells’ Snatch It Back And Hold It though, this world-class jam band stretches out. Loose but absolutely smoking, the eight-minute cover gives Haynes plenty of room to light up the fretboard of his gorgeous vintage SG with massive bends, biting lead stabs and deliciously melodic scalar runs.

Haynes doesn’t match the speed of say, Herman Li, but every note he plays on this extended blues workout has a place and purpose, and he never fails to bring proceedings back home and back to the main tune with class and elegance. Haynes can do plenty more, as a guitarist, than pure blues, but when he does take things all the way back to his roots, it’s a joy to behold. (JM)

ERRA – Vanish Canvas (feat. Courtney LaPlante)

In somewhat of a departure from their usual brand of ultra-brutal, technical heavy metal, Alabama stalwarts ERRA have teamed up with Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante for a markedly slower and more melodic offering.

Lending his clean vocals to the track’s verse sections while decorating them with crystalline arpeggio lines, guitarist Jesse Cash displays his versatility throughout, serving up those characteristic drop-tuned riff lines in the choruses, and offering an enveloping two-handed-tapping passage around the 2:50 mark. (SR)

Wallows – I Don’t Want to Talk 

LA-based trio Wallows returned this week for their first new music since February’s Remote EP with yet another supremely infectious indie rock romp, I Don’t Want to Talk.

Fronted by Dylan Minnette – who’s also a dab hand at acting, having starred in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why – the three-piece have recruited Vampire Weekend, Haim and Adele producer Ariel Rechtshaid for their latest release, which arrives jam-packed with just about all the guitar goodness you could want from a Wallows track.

It’s as easygoing as Wallows gets, featuring a pounding drum beat, twangy guitar hook and catchy vocal motif that are propped up by some quick-fire harmonica cameos that intermittently decorate the track.

Boasting a charming Young Chasers-era Circa Waves-esque vibe thanks to its breezy guitar parts – super-charged with the production maturity that Rechtshaid brings – I Don’t Want to Talk easily surpasses the sonic heights the band set with their 2019 debut album Nothing Happens. No mean feat, given how good that album actually was. (MO)

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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.