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From returning riff titans to Spaghetti Western blues: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Alter Bridge performs live
(Image credit: Duncan Everson)

In this ever-more-unpredictable world we all live in, routines – ones that never change no matter what crazy stuff occurs outside your door – can be hard to come by, but are always nice to have.

That’s why we at GW love every week to search for the most exciting happenings in the guitar universe, and bring them right to your fingertips. 

This week, we’ve got a hemisphere and genre-traversing masterpiece from The Nels Cline Singers, an unrelenting volley of heavy riffing from Alter Bridge, a meeting of two groundbreaking rock guitar giants and a whole lot more.

So, take a breather, tune in and, perhaps, find a new favorite!

Alter Bridge – Last Rites

Alter Bridge are chameleons in the rock world, able to seamlessly shift from gorgeous acoustic arrangements to tracks that give any of the genre’s heavy titans a run for their money. The group’s latest release, Last Rites, falls firmly in the latter camp.

Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy deliver an unrelenting volley of huge-sounding mid-tempo guitar riffs throughout, solidifying once again why they are such a force within the guitar world. The lead guitar is somewhat subdued in this track, but in its absence it’s all about rhythm and groove, and the Florida rockers execute it spectacularly. (SR)

Tom Morello - Interstate 80 (Feat. Slash)

The Rage Against the Machine revolutionary surprised-released Comandante, an EP of all-new material, last week – and some of his best output in years. While the EP is awash with killer six-string moments, its centerpiece is this hard-rocker built around Hendrix's old fave, the 7#9 chord, featuring the talents of a certain Mr Saul Hudson.

Slash lends his skills throughout the track, interspersing his trademark burning pentatonic leads between Morello’s Whammy freak-outs, building to an incendiary face-off at the track’s climax, as the pair emulate their Guitar Hero avatars. (MAB)

The Nels Cline Singers – Segunda

Leave it to Nels Cline to traverse hemispheres and a multitude of musical styles that – in theory – shouldn’t have all that much to do with one another, in a single tune.

Such is the case on the hypnotically grooving cover of Caetano Veloso’s Segunda that he recorded with his group, The Nels Cline Singers, for their new album, Share The Wealth.

His love of free jazz shining brightly, Cline uses his ever-exploratory, fleet-fingered lead work to engage in a fascinating musical conversation with his group, particularly saxophonist Skerik, who wails away with thrilling abandon.

With his incredible skills as an improviser and musical interpreter, the punk attitude of the song’s fearless, politically charged lyrics, and Cline’s brilliant sense of melody all vividly on display in his six-string work, this is a musical melting pot that’ll hook you right in from the get-go. (JM)

Rob Zombie – The Triumph of King Freak (A Crypt of Preservation and Superstition) 

Metal’s resident self-dubbed ‘Hellbilly’ returned right before Halloween with the characteristically and suitably horror-themed The Triumph of King Freak, ahead of his upcoming seventh studio album The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy.

Featuring Middle Eastern-influenced scale patterns combined with earthquake-inducing heavy metal instrumentation, this track holds all the riffs – most likely conceived by shred wizard John 5 – to keep any six-stringer satiated. (SR)

Indigo Sparke – Baby

The lead single from the up-and-coming Australian singer/songwriter’s debut album, Echo, Baby is a stunning statement of intent from Indigo Sparke.

Sparke’s vocals are otherworldly and beautiful enough to fill the massive desert landscape of Echo’s cover, but her urgent electric fingerpicking cuts right through that beautiful picture perfectly, giving the song a kind of intimacy that countless singer/songwriters attempt to achieve, but few genuinely capture.

Echo should be on everyone’s ‘must listen to in 2021’ list – it’ll definitely be on ours. (JM)

CATALAN! - Ungoogleable

Ungoogleable is taken from the Northern Irish protest-punk outfit’s debut album, Veritas, masterminded by Ewen Friers, the brother of And So I Watch You From Afar’s Rory, member of Axis Of, and touring crew member for the likes of Frank Iero, Laura Jane Grace and Thursday.

Fans of his sibling’s band will immediately dig Ewen’s hook-heavy guitar stylings, which meld the angularity of post-punk with math-rock buoyancy, but the stream-of-consciousness lyrical content takes CATALAN!’s output to a more existential plain. (MAB)

grandson – One Step Closer

Jordan Benjamin – better known as grandson – has carved a rock ‘n’ roll-leaning niche within the hip-hop world, and deploys this stylistic tendency to great effect in his often politically fueled original music.

His latest release, however, is a cover of Linkin Park’s One Step Closer, taken from the band’s 2000 album, Hybrid Theory. Apart from the obvious key change, the arrangement is largely the same, albeit with very grandson-esque electronic drums.

While the original is undeniably carved in nu-metal history, it is interesting to hear the composition with a more modern production style and with fatter-sounding guitars. We rate this cover highly. (SR)

Gustavo Santaolalla & Gary Clark Jr. – Valley of Last Resort

Written for the Hunter S. Thompson documentary, Freak Power: The Ballot or the Bomb, Valley of Last Resort is a lovely, remarkably self-assured meeting-of-the-musical-minds. 

Not only do Gustavo Santaolalla & Gary Clark Jr.’s voices work immaculately together, Santaolalla’s ronroco work is a wonderful backdrop for Clark’s Spaghetti Western-informed and bluesy lead stabs. 

Speaking to both the political unrest of Thompson’s time and our own, Valley of Last Resort is a compositional marvel that balances a number of musical traditions and influences with admirable ease. (JM)

The Anchoress – Show Your Face

Welsh multi-instrumentalist Catherine Anne Davies this week announced her second album, The Art of Losing, and with it, this lead-off single, a new wave-inflected retort to toxic masculinity.

Davies leans on a modified Fender Blacktop Telecaster for the track’s chunky chords, while Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield crops up to slash away at the track’s moody, chorus-drenched six-string counterpoints. (MAB)

GHØSTKID – YØU & I

While relatively new on the metalcore scene, GHØSTKID have quickly established themselves as a band to watch. Five tracks have been released thus far from their upcoming debut album (out November 13) – including two versions of THIS IS NØT HØLLYWØØD with Timi Hendrix and, ironically, Hollywood Undead’s Johnny 3 Tears, respectively.

The group’s latest single, likely to be the last before the full album is released, YØU & I showcases their digital-meets-metal style from the outset, and demonstrates their seasoned approach to melodic metalcore composition. Oh, and the guitars really slap, too. (SR)