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From spaghetti Western atmospherics to unrelenting, demonic death metal: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Guitarist Erik Rutan Of Cannibal Corpse performs at The Regency Ballroom on February 23, 2019 in San Francisco, California.
(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images)

Feeling the effects of the working week thus far? Fancy treating yourself to a nice healthy dose of new guitar music to sort out those midweek blues? Well, you’re in luck, as it just so happens to be the time of week when we get to scout through song catalogs aplenty to serve up a metaphorical all-you-can-eat buffet of sumptuous six-string sonic offerings, and, like every week before, we hope you’ve worked up an appetite.

This week’s menu includes a shoegaze-approved aperitif from British indie rock outfit Wolf Alice, a mesmerizing main course from psych-pop singer Aziya, and a delicious, high-octane dessert from Weezer, as well as a whole host of side dishes in the form of a groove-infused number from Goose, a spaghetti Western tone poem from Billy Gibbons and a brooding heavy-riffer from While She Sleeps.

As usual, we’ve been spoiled rotten this week, so take your time, browse the menu, and tuck in to the sweetest treats that the world of guitar has offered up over the past seven days...

Wolf Alice - Smile

Wolf Alice have a knack of picking deceptive lead singles. 2017’s progressive masterpiece Visions of a Life was led by raucous two-minute punk track Yuk Foo, while this year’s upcoming Blue Weekend was foreshadowed by piano ballad epic The Last Man on Earth.

Smile, however, is here to remind us to expect the unexpected. Joff Oddie and Ellie Rowsell bring the fuzz on a serpentine main riff that – topped off with Rowsell’s spoken-word vocals – lends the track groove and swagger, while the shoegaze-approved chorus conjures the best of feelgood ’90s alt-rock.

Oddie’s ever-expansive pedalboard provides a rich tapestry of overdubs to explore throughout, and it’s this attention to detail that further cements Wolf Alice’s reputation as one of today’s most exciting guitar bands. (MAB)

Weezer – I Need Some of That

The fourth single from Weezer’s upcoming fifteenth studio album, Van Weezer, I Need Some of That sees the LA rockers combine classic rock grandeur with youthful, powerchord driven pop-punk. A brief clean guitar-laden passage right before the solo offers respite, only before Rivers Cuomo lets rip with a soulful solo derived from the track’s main vocal hook. 

And if you’re keen to hear more fresh guitar work from Weezer, you’re in luck. Speaking to Zane Lowe back in 2019, Cuomo said: “Last album we didn't have any guitars, this one is just all guitars. A hundred guitars.” 

So get excited for Van Weezer's May 7 release, as it looks to be a feast of six-string delights from Cuomo and co. (SR)

Billy Gibbons – Desert High

Though he’s made his name, fortune and legacy on some of the most infectious, charming and instantly identifiable blues guitar licks to hit the airwaves in the last 50 years, Mr. Billy F Gibbons is no one-trick pony. 

Proof of this lies in Desert High – the second single from Gibbons’ upcoming third solo album, Hardware – a spin of which may at first leave you thinking you’ve unwittingly stumbled upon an outtake from the Red Dead Redemption 2 soundtrack.

Over an almost dirge-like groove, Gibbons ditches his familiar propulsive boogie approach in favor of spaghetti Western atmospherics – ramping up the reverb, executing some spare, textural chords and leads, and even toying with some feather-light feedback here and there.

Invoking the late Jim Morrison and Gram Parsons – both of whom injected healthy doses of the desert’s mystery and majesty into their own music – Gibbons delivers a spoken-word tribute to the desert surroundings that shaped Hardware’s creation. 

Like the best of Gibbons’ work with ZZ Top, it’s a teeny bit cheesy, but self-aware and skillful in a way that’ll win you over without breaking a sweat. (JM)

While She Sleeps – SYSTEMATIC

With its opening line “This world is broken”, it’s no surprise SYSTEMATIC is one of the heaviest cuts on While She Sleeps’ new album Sleeps Society. The track sets things off with a brooding combination of synth, vocals and siren-like design, before kicking into overdrive with one of the simplest, yet most impactful riffs we’ve heard from the metal scene in a while.

We're certain that this track will become a mainstay of the Sheffield metallers' setlist when shows resume. Its blistering groove, smashing breakdown and verse chants render it tailor-made for live performance. (SR)

Rosie Tucker – Barbara Ann 

The arrival of Rosie Tucker’s third studio album Sucker Supreme is imminent – April 30, to be precise – and the next eight days are going to feel like a helluva long time after the LA-based indie rock protege released her latest single, Barbara Ann, which, despite sharing a title with the classic Beach Boys hit, is absolutely nothing like its namesake.

There’s no five-part harmony, nor is there a chime-y tambourine chugging along behind the vocals. Instead, there is an intricate web of twinkly guitar parts and shimmering leads, all of which coalesce to create a one-way stream of clean chords, dreamy vocals and pumping drums heading towards the track’s lung-bursting finale. 

Fans of high-gain guitars are also in for a treat, with Tucker delicately dialing up to Barbara Ann’s choruses, before throwing listeners over the edge with raucous guitar blasts.

Mark April 30 in your diaries – you're not going to want to miss this one. (MO)

Cannibal Corpse – Necrogenic Resurrection

Veteran death metallers Cannibal Corpse recently returned with their first album in four years, Violence Unimagined, following 2017’s Red Before Black. And while its 11 bloodthirsty tracks are all worthy of mention, a standout cut lies in its second track, Necrogenic Resurrection.

Kicking off with a savage riff courtesy of Rob Barrett and the newly instated Erik Rutan, the track soon after sees the band, true to form, deliver a searing metal masterclass, wrought with unrelenting rhythms, demonic vocals, a wailing guitar solo and a breakdown with its own gravitational pull. (SR)

The Mountain Goats – Mobile

Anyone thinking that perhaps The Mountain Goats’ evolution from John Darnielle’s solo project (his urgent acoustic guitar and vocals recorded into an always-buzzing boombox) to a nimble, always-evolving ensemble capable of breathtakingly beautiful instrumental passages would slow their legendarily prolific output down a tad should really stop worrying.

This week, the band announced Dark in Here, their third full-length album in 15 months. Recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the album promises to take the band – already having produced albums centered on wrestling, goths and religion – in yet another new and exciting direction. 

For Mobile, the album’s lead single, the Mountain Goats recruited Muscle Shoals veteran Will McFarlane – a studio ace whose credits include years of work with Bonnie Raitt, Tammy Wynette and more. Of course, McFarlane has that Muscle Shoals guitar sound – sweet, tangy and richly melodic, with just the right touch of grit and showmanship – down cold, and the band shapes its easy shuffle perfectly around him. 

Darnielle – who has few rivals on Earth when it comes to putting every significant nuance of a setting perfectly into words – is in immaculate form, giving the song a Biblical sense of significance (“Now the Lord told the great fish, be free of your burden”) while painting such a clear picture, you feel like you’re right there in Alabama next to him. (JM)

cleopatrick – Family Van

“Just three kids with some fuzz pedals and a point to prove” is how hard-riffing frontman Luke Gruntz describes the making of cleopatrick’s debut album, Bummer, assembled alongside drummer Ian Fraser and producer Jig Dubé.

Yet that statement doesn’t quite capture the determination and craft that has gone into the long-awaited first release from the Canadian duo, who have already racked up 77 million streams.

Family Van is typical of the band’s uncompromisingly heavy approach, which melds crushing riff after crushing riff à la Royal Blood with a hip-hop-infused rhythmic flow – not to mention a badass PowerPoint presentation.

Combined with a raw production, DIY mentality, and, yes, a hell of a lot of fuzz, it’s a very 2021 take on hard rock – and we love it. (MAB)

Illuminati Hotties – MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA

Illuminati Hotties mastermind Sarah Tudzin just started her own label, Snack Shack Tracks, and with her new single – the irresistible MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA – is kicking its life off with a bang. 

A middle finger to someone who told Tudzin that her music was too “cute” to take seriously, this is a punk gem of the first degree – with deliciously angular guitars and a blow-out, Ramones-style chorus that’ll be lodged in your head for hours, if not days.

Keep an eye out for a new Illuminati Hotties album, which seems like it might arrive soon – we’ll certainly have our eyes peeled. (JM)

Goose – So Ready 

When curating a pre-weekend playlist, it is essential that you find a balance between tracks that boast a bounty of tasty guitar parts, and ones that get you moving and grooving. With their new offering So Ready, groovy funk five-piece Goose have aimed to hit those two birds with just the one stone.

Boasting a sumptuous blues-infused, Mayer-inspired opening guitar line that locks into a beefy clean tone to deliver an exquisitely controlled bass-melody motif, So Ready gives us a moment to get ourselves ready and switch on the sparkly lights, before cranking up the keys and introducing a full-blown dance-inducing disco bass guitar line.

So, if you’ve been on the hunt for a feel-good track to add to your repertoire, you can call off the search party – we’re willing to wager that So Ready could be exactly what you’ve been looking for. (MO)

Aziya - Heaven For Me

Following gritty rocker Slip!, Heaven For Me sees the UK guitar prodigy take a psych-pop turn, toning down the distortion for shimmering chorus’d chords and silky basslines.

Sonically, the track – which was written and co-produced by Aziya – nods to Tame Impala and Khruangbin with its irresistible combination of rock instrumentation and danceable grooves, and the video channels the kaleidoscopic vibe.

“I produced this track referencing a lot of psych-rock bands – from Led Zeppelin to Ebo Taylor,” Aziya explains, “so I definitely wanted it to have a nod to the ’70s, the prime era of psychedelic music.”

There’s no word on a full-length album yet, but we’ve no doubt there are many more sides to Aziya we’ve yet to encounter. (MAB)

Death Valley Girls – Little Things 

Taken from their recently released album Under The Spell of Joy, Little Things is just one of many tracks from the Death Valley Girls discography that demonstrates the band's trademark blend of psychedelic indie rock.

A fretboard-spanning slide on the bass and we’re away, with lead guitarist and vocalist Bonnie Bloomgarden effortlessly see-sawing between two chords to maximum effect in the verses, pairing a care-free strumming pattern with a gritty electric guitar tone. A carefully constructed lead line – equal parts purposeful dissonance and indie-rock perfection – weaves its way nonchalantly through the track, serving as a six-string bridge between the catchy chorus hooks and energetic verses.

The lead line in question blossoms from a humble passage into a tasty guitar solo, crafted from a melting pot of double-stop bends, delicate hammer-on and pull-off exchanges, and broken chordal passages.

Taking all these delicious ingredients in one package, Bloomgarden and co have successfully created exactly what they intended to, “A cartoonish psychedelic dreamscape that invites everyone to dance, sing, and revel in the optimism of daydreaming!” (MO)