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From virtuosic R&B guitar jams to full-on punk revival: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Manuel Gardner Fernandes and Tim Henson
(Image credit: Unprocessed/YouTube)

It’s that time of the week again! We’ve been on the lookout for some of the hottest new guitar music, so get ready to kick back and absorb some of the most tastefully crafted six-string bangers from the past seven days.

We’ve got a new collaboration between boundary-pushing virtuosos Unprocessed and Polyphia’s Tim Henson and Clay Gober, some silky acoustic goodness from both King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and Buck Meek, a previously unreleased track from nu-core legends Falling In Reverse and tons more.

Are you ready to expand your musical mind? Here we go. 

Unprocessed - Real feat. Polyphia’s Tim Henson and Clay Gober

Slap is officially back, baby - only these days, we’re calling it thump. For proof, check out this collaboration between some of today’s most groundbreaking players, who used quarantine downtime to assemble this unexpectedly R&B-vibed jam.

Real sees Unprocessed’s Manuel Gardner Fernandes and Christoph Schultz employ some deft percussive techniques and whammy-bar flourishes, before Polyphia prodigy Tim Henson drops some of that sweet God Hand technique he learned from Tosin Abasi.

The track is emblematic of the direction Polyphia has been moving in, but its crossover of djent and hip-hop influences is perhaps even more radical, with Fernandes’s falsetto vocals even hinting at mainstream crossover potential. (MAB)

beabadoobee - Care

It’s been a big week for one of 2019’s breakout guitar stars. London-based Bea Kristi was revealed as one of the faces of Fender’s Player Series relaunch, and now the ’90s-loving offset wielder has announced her debut album, Fake It Flowers, spearheaded by this anthemic monster of a single.

As you’d expect from an artist who once released a song called I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus, the guitar playing owes a lot to the golden era of indie-rock, with widescreen power-pop chords and sparkling clean melodies. We can’t wait to hear more. (MAB)

Buck Meek - Roll Back Your Clocks

Though he’s most well-known as the right-hand-man to Adrianne Lenker in Big Thief - adding splashes of six-string color and gorgeous vocal harmonies to the band’s ever-evolving and unpredictable blend of folk, tooth-gnashing riff rock and open-ended jamming - Buck Meek is a uniquely gifted songwriter in his own right.

A standalone single written in the midst of the coronavirus-induced worldwide lockdown, Roll Back Your Clocks is, in its own quietly affecting way, both timely and timeless. 

Driven by Buck’s plaintive strumming and given levity and incredible depth by gritty-but-expressive leads and textural additions from guitarist Adam Brisbin, this is a beautiful song that perfectly balances humility and fear in the face of an incredible crisis with the aim of, in the author’s words, bringing “some sense of peace” to the listener. On that, it delivers with aplomb. (JM)

Kingdom of Giants - Side Effect

The Californian six-piece add the techno-infused Side Effect to the pile of showstopping metalcore anthems that’s sure to make up their upcoming fourth studio album, Passenger.

Guitarists Max Bremer, Red Martin and Julian Perez trade hellishly drop-tuned riffs throughout over the top of thoughtfully placed synth arrangements, and the tried-and-tested clean/dirty vocal combination synonymous with modern metalcore. If you’re a fan of the heavy, you’ll dig this one. (SR)

James Dean Bradfield - The Boy From the Plantation

For his second solo album, Even In Exile, Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield turned to the remarkable life of Chilean poet, singer/songwriter and activist Victor Jara for inspiration.

Bradfield’s alternately anguished and gorgeous guitar work on the album’s latest single, the moving The Boy From the Plantation, manages to capture both the extraordinary triumphs and violent, tragic end of Jara’s life. If you’re looking for an example of guitar playing telling a story as effectively as a set of lyrics, look no further. (JM)

Falling in Reverse - Carry On

Originally written for 2017 album Coming Home but ultimately shelved, Carry On ditches the heavy approach we often associate with the Vegas metal troupe in favor of a more emotive angle on songwriting.

Featuring simplistic yet impactful chord progressions and a fitting guitar solo, this one’s totally feel-driven, and it’s a wonder how it never made it onto the record. In any case, enjoy this new offering from one of nu-core’s finest. (SR)

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Honey

Stu Mackenzie has unveiled his latest experiments in microtonal playing, with this track written around what looks to be a custom acoustic from Morris Guitars.

A stripped-back version of the band’s trademark raga-rock, Honey proves that Mackenzie’s idiosyncratic approach to melody transcends any arrangement. (MAB)

YUNGBLUD - Strawberry Lipstick

The pop-encroaching alt-rocker employs beautifully dialed fuzz to drench his latest single’s punk-themed guitar lines, creating a rather pleasing sonic cacophony in keeping with the track’s overall tone. 

With a sound reminiscent of golden-era Sex Pistols, the solo artist has gone full punk with this one, and we love it. (SR)

Lianne La Havas - Weird Fishes

The self-titled record from the peerless UK singer-songwriter lands today, and one of the highlights is this bewitching take on a choice cut from Radiohead’s 2007 opus, In Rainbows, now with a video captured from a live session filmed earlier this month.

Building around a sultry bass groove, the track’s closing section sees La Havas indulge her rockier side, kicking in the overdrive on an absolutely gorgeous blue fade Gibson ES-335. The intense vocal performance lends a new pathos to Radiohead’s original, too. (MAB)

Black Foxxes - Badlands

Recorded live in one nine-minute take with a new rhythm section, Badlands sees Bristol's Black Foxxes take a more experimental path. The band are known for their huge emo-meets-grunge choruses, but this alt-rock epic eschews traditional structures to hypnotic effect.

Manson-toting frontman Mark Holley transitions from bulldozer riffs into dreamy Cure chimes, before segueing into driving indie-rock in the vein of the Pixies. It’s arresting, devastating stuff. (MAB)