Along with ever-warming weather, this week brought us an absolute treasure trove of boundary-pushing new music - packed with innovation on the guitar front - that we’re excited to share with you.
On tap today are an unlikely cover from one of the world’s finest fingerpickers, a frenzied instrumental from one of prog-metal's most exciting rising stars, bludgeoning Canadian power-metal and a whole lot more.
So take some time, plug in and explore all the exciting new sounds guitardom has to offer this week.
Al Joseph - Inner Secrets
This Berklee grad has made a name for himself with dizzying displays of licks that manage to be both tasteful and awe-inspiring.
You might also recall Joseph’s playing with the vocal-led Hyvmine, but on new album Labyrinth, he distills his Satriani worship into a polished instrumental effort that spans classic shred to djent, with lead lines that cut through many of his contemporaries with their emotional weight and technical dexterity. (MAB)
Molly Tuttle - Fake Empire
If you predicted the matching of one of the world’s best and most innovative bluegrass guitarists and the career-launching, era-defining protest song from New York City’s masters of anxious, immaculately constructed indie rock, well… good for you, we certainly didn’t!
Just one listen to Molly Tuttle’s brilliant re-interpretation of The National’s 2007 masterpiece, however, proves that the unlikely pairing is actually a perfect one.
Tuttle’s spry fingerpicking perfectly mirrors the restless energy of the original’s barreling main piano figure, and by song’s end - courtesy of her dizzying lead excursions in the outro - you’ll feel the song’s incredible power, which transcends the era it was written for. (JM)
Tash Sultana - Greed
When we quizzed Tash Sultana recently on chops, the response was terribly modest. “I’ve studied shit-all, bro!” Tash laughed. “It’s more about feel, sound and approach.”
Latest single, Greed, certainly could have fooled us - the smooth licks that intertwine with those lush extended chords are pure neo-soul gold, recalling the likes of Tom Misch and one of Tash’s own idols, John Mayer. And the crystalline Strat tone on that main riff is just gorgeous. (MAB)
Bring Me The Horizon - Parasite Eve
BMTH’s ability to consistently metamorphosize and smash every style of music out there is epitomized in new track, Parasite Eve. The Sheffield five-piece aren’t afraid to hark back to their heavier-than-hell roots, all the while maintaining the modern electronic-imbued sound they’ve adopted of late.
Guitarist Lee Malia lays down chorus-boosting powerchords and juggernaut breakdown lines, ensuring fans of the earlier music are kept happy. There’s something for everyone here, and it’s certain to open up the pit (when it's safe to do so). (SR)
Bill Frisell - We Shall Overcome
Given its deep, profound history as the soaring anthem that’s long accompanied protests against systemic oppression and racism in America, We Shall Overcome is a bold song to tackle for anyone.
However, if there’s anyone who can not only do it justice, but put an entirely distinct spin on it, it’s non-more-musically-eclectic jazz guitar master Bill Frisell.
Recorded with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston, this version of the anthem is about as beautiful an instrumental as you’ll ever hear.
Frisell’s leads are nothing short of a work of art, letting the powerful melody take up as much space as it needs, all the while wrapping it in silky-smooth jazz touches that’ll leave you shaking your head in wonder. (JM)
Hum - Waves
This week, pivotal alt-rockers Hum surprise-released Inlet, the follow-up to 1998’s Downward is Heavenward, and their first new album in 22 years.
Waves is Inlet’s opening offensive, complete with walls of distorted rhythms, whammy warbles, and lots and lots of reverb.
Hum were so influential on a generation of shoegaze, stoner and sludge acts that their comeback album has ended up sounding utterly contemporary. Essential listening. (MAB)
Unleash The Archers - Abyss
The Canadian power-metallers continue to unleash their unique brand of fantasy-themed sonic goodness with new track, Abyss.
From the get-go, we’re bombarded - rather satisfyingly - with enveloping powerchords and arpeggiated synth lines, followed by harmonized lead guitar passages and climactic falsetto vocal lines. If you’re into power metal, there’s nothing this track will leave you without. (SR)
Momma - Derby
The past few years have seen a resurgence of ’90s-rooted indie-rock, and LA’s Momma are among this new wave’s most exciting proponents.
Derby sees co-singers/guitarists/songwriters Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten tackle gritty rhythms and angular melodies in the vein of Sonic Youth and the Pixies, but there’s a distinctly Generation Z dynamism in this two-minute adrenaline rush that brings it bang up to date. (MAB)
G.E. Smith & LeRoy Bell - America
Session guitar A-lister G.E. Smith and veteran soul singer/songwriter LeRoy Bell, with their shared love and mastery of so many rich veins of American music, are a match made in heaven, really.
Their second single as a duo, America, is a powerful rumination on the current state of the country, and works perfectly to both musician’s strengths.
As he’s done with Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, David Bowie, Tina Turner and countless others, Smith perfectly services Bell’s standout vocal performance with supple, funk-inflected leads and a wailing solo that - with just a handful of notes - speaks a thousand words. (JM)
Amaranthe - Viral
The inclusion of digital sounds in heavy metal is a combination we’re seeing increasingly often, and Swedish heavy metal six-piece Amaranthe are leading the charge. The band recently announced their sixth studio album Manifest, and last week dropped its thundering first single, Viral.
Resident six-stringer Olof Mörck lays down a symphony of drop-tuned guitar parts, which serve as the sonic bedrock over which the myriad synth lines and the trio of vocalists soar. (SR)
Lapyear - See Inside
When we read the name of the guitarist for this London four-piece - Scott Gear, of all things! - we felt compelled to give their debut EP Smile a whirl.
And it turns out his blend of Smashing Pumpkins aggression and dreamy Ride textures makes Lapyear an utterly compelling listen for fans of punk, emo and alt-rock alike. Top work, Gear! (MAB)