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From Snarky Puppy-style breakdowns to noisy indie-pop: here are this week’s essential guitar tracks

(from left) Alec O'Hanley, Molly Rankin,and Sheridan Riley of Alvvays perform in concert as part of an 'Official 2018 ACL Fest Late Night Show' at Stubb's Bar-B-Q on October 11, 2018 in Austin, Texas
(Image credit: Rick Kern/WireImage)

Welcome to Guitar World’s weekly roundup of the musical highlights from the, erm, world of guitar. Every seven days (or thereabouts), we endeavor to bring you a selection of songs from across the guitar universe, all with one thing in common: our favorite instrument plays a starring role.

Bring Me the Horizon – sTraNgeRs

What is it? Bring Me the Horizon have ridden one of the most diverse creative arcs since their debut album Count Your Blessings in 2006. It would have been hard to imagine the same Sheffield five-piece serving the pummeling breakdowns of Pray For Plagues would be here in 2022, penning heartfelt powerchord-driven rock anthems, after years dabbling in everything from electronic rock to pop. But here we are, and like any genre Oli Sykes and co lay their hands on, they smash it.

Standout guitar moment: Lee Malia’s guitar work assumes more of a layering role in sTraNgeRs, but there are some tasteful lead lines buried in the mix in the prechoruses that add to the melodic intrigue.

For fans of: Machine Gun Kelly, Architects, While She Sleeps

Sam Roche

Alvvays – Pharmacist

What is it? It’s been a long five years since Alvvays, one of Canada’s best indie bands, graced us with Antisocialites, their last collection of irresistible tunes. Pharmacist, the lead single from their forthcoming third album, Blue Rev, is a great reminder of this quintet’s skills as songsmiths, and (in the best way possible) just how weird they are.

Standout guitar moment: Alvvays have made their name with bubblegum-y pop songs of the first order, and Pharmacist certainly isn’t immune to dishing out some very effective hooks. What’s surprising – and electrifying – here though, is when Alec O'Hanley gives up trying to parry the song’s melody and briefly embarks on a noisy, discordant, Ira Kaplan-esque side quest in his solo.

For fans of: Phoenix, Yo La Tengo, Best Coast

Jackson Maxwell

Dropkick Murphys – Two 6’s Upside Down 

What is it? The latest single from US punk veterans Dropkick Murphys, who have previewed their forthcoming record This Machine Still Kills Fascists with a swampy, acoustic guitar-driven track that is said to be a “forlorn gambler’s lament”. By the band’s own admission, there are no electric guitars to be heard, though that doesn’t diminish the overall edge this track has in the slightest – see-sawing strums and a smattering of layered vocal turnarounds are enough to guitar our six-string senses tingling in this one.

Standout guitar moment: It’s not really a “moment”, but the relentless acoustic guitar drone, which underpins the entire track by way of some hypnotic strums, easily takes the cake here.

For fans of: Flogging Molly, Street Dogs, Clutch

– Matt Owen

ERRA – Pull from the Ghost

What is it? A crushing standalone single from Alabama metalcore heavyweights, ERRA. Pull from the Ghost is quintessentially ERRA, with a barrage of drop-tuned guitar riffs courtesy of Jesse Cash, and a healthy balance of melody and brutality.

As Cash explains, the song deals thematically with the implications of insecurity in relationships. “The song is told from the perspective of a kidnapper hoping his captive will choose to stay willingly,” he explains, “but ultimately deciding to free them when that doesn’t happen.”

Standout guitar moment: The riff that follows the intro’s synth stabs is both savage and intricate, with its low-register notes peppered with natural harmonics.

For fans of: Northlane, Structures, Fit For A King

Sam Roche

Julien Baker – Guthrie

What is it? Guthrie, the lead single from Julien Baker’s forthcoming B-Sides EP, is a return to the indie singer/songwriter’s spare, quietly devastating roots. With only her voice and an acoustic guitar, Baker cuts – as she always does – like a knife, putting all her cards on the table in breathtaking fashion. 

Standout guitar moment: Baker’s fingerpicking here is simply sublime – she gets a remarkable amount of melodic milage out of the stunning progression between the verses, while the bass notes throughout drone ominously with the regret and resignation of the song’s lyrics.

For fans of: Phoebe Bridgers, Elliott Smith, Julie Byrne

Jackson Maxwell

Parkway Drive – The Greatest Fear

What is it? The second single from the Aussie metalcore veterans’ just-announced seventh album, Darker Still. Dealing with the joyful topic of death, The Greatest Fear sees Winston McCall and co serving a similar sound to their last two albums, Reverence and Ire, with punishing breakdowns, arena-filling guitar riffs and some stellar leads from guitarist Jeff Ling. 

Standout guitar moment: Ling offers not one but two short solos, crafted with slick bluesy bends and dextrous hammer-ons and pull-offs.

For fans of: The Ghost Inside, While She Sleeps, Bleed From Within

Sam Roche

Florist – Feathers

What is it? The gorgeous new single from Florist’s forthcoming, self-titled album, their first full-band effort since 2017. 

Standout guitar moment: In the credits (opens in new tab) for the album on Bandcamp, there’s nothing about any pedal steel work anywhere, making the vivid, country-tinged soundscapes Jonnie Baker paints with his textural lead guitar work all the more impressive.

For fans of: Lucinda Williams, Big Thief, Wilco

Jackson Maxwell

Amon Amarth – The Great Heathen Army

What is it? The Great Heathen Army is title-track from the kingpins of Viking-themed melodic death metal's forthcoming album, but it could just as easily work as short-hand for the band themselves, or indeed those who attend their concerts. 

Anyone familiar with the Amon Amarth oeuvre will know what to expect, what to steel themselves for. Pitched in mid-tempo, this is ground-and-pound metal, a platform for the towering Johan Hegg to chew through Shure SM58s like they were Cheetos. You sure would rather feed him a week than a fortnight.

Standout guitar moment: We still live in hope that one day Olavi Mikkone will go full-bore Viking Derek Trucks on our asses and use a drinking horn as a slide. In lieu of this crossover event, the guitar moment that has us reaching for the downtuned electric guitar in our lives and a feral high-gain patch on the amp modeller is that verse riff. It gurns, it churns, it grooves.

For fans of: Unleashed, Hypocrisy, At the Gates

– Jonathan Horsley

Ryan Davey – Solitary 

What is it? A track from UK-based instrumentalist Ryan Davey, who dons a PRS CE24 and Ibanez AZ2204 for five minutes of masterful melodic noodling and tasty fretboard explorations. In what is a demonstration of Davey’s robust grip on vocal-like lead line composition – as well as a tour de tasty tones – Solitary traverses everything from snappy, reverb-tinged clean rhythms and carefully compressed solo sections, which are pieced together to form an impressive mosaic of awesome guitar music.

Standout guitar moment: It’s all gold, but the entire passage that starts with the Snarky Puppy-style breakdown riff at the 3:15 mark and ends with a rip-roaring reprise of the catchy main line is a particular highlight.

For fans of: Nick Johnston, Andy Timmons

– Matt Owen

Journey – United We Stand

What is it? Journey released United We Stand right on cue on July 4th but Neal Schon and co had more than just the urgent business of soundtracking the nation’s barbecue cookouts. 

The theme of the track is self-evident, a call for a little unity in hyper-partisan times, and the medium is typical Journey, big hooks cleaved from that big old wheel in the sky, pinned to a guitar melody and chord changes that are all the more satisfying because you know they’re coming – the FM rock equivalent of Hitchcockian suspense.

Standout guitar moment: It’s a Journey son, and that always makes for a case study in how to build a rock song and make it work. The way the guitar establishes melody is genius. But this is Guitar World, so let’s just say the solo does not disappoint, its fireworks tucked a little back in the mix, but lighting up the sky nonetheless. Hey, it’s a July 4th track after all. 

For fans of: Toto, Foreigner, Bon Jovi

Jonathan Horsley

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Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).