From “upside-down Hendrix licks” to sweetly subversive Whammy solos: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Arielle, pictured playing her signature Brian May Guitars model
(Image credit: Andrew McMeekin )

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.

boygenius – $20

What is it? The indie-rock supergroup composed of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus have at long last surprise-announced a debut album proper, the record, and with it a trio of singles. All three are more upbeat than the trio’s devastating 2018 EP, and $20 is the pick of the bunch. Driven by a bouncy Telecaster riff laced with tweed crunch, the track borders on post-hardcore as it nears its climax.

Standout guitar moment: That riff echoes Death Cab For Cutie at their emo prime, but we love hearing Julien Baker’s Strymon delay and reverb collection breaking free as the track’s crescendo reaches its zenith.

For fans of: Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus (obvs)

– Michael Astley-Brown

Arielle – ‘73 

What is it? Arielle was tee’d up for greatness when she received a glowing endorsement from Brian May, who was so taken aback by her six-string skills he bestowed on her the first and only BMG signature model. That model – and, indeed, the chops that made Arielle worthy of it – returns in full force in ‘73, with Arielle soundscaping a sonic tapestry of searing slides, full-throttle solos and some revs for good measure.

Standout guitar moment: Yes, that outro solo almost scorched our eyebrows off, but the interlude solo at the 1:18 mark is just as good, flexing Arielle’s supreme dynamic touch and generational fingerstyle-lead feel.

For fans of: Brian May, Nancy Wilson, Jared James Nichols

– Matt Owen

The National – Tropic Morning News

What is it? The lead single from First Two Pages of Frankenstein, the highly-anticipated new album from New York’s top purveyors of elegantly dressed and gorgeously arranged rock. There’s plenty of the quintet’s trademark sad grandeur to go around on Tropic Morning News, but it’s undercut by a refreshing sense of urgency. The National have an unmistakable sound, sure, but they’re sure as hell not ready to rest on their laurels yet.

Standout guitar moment: Before Aaron Dessner cut loose in dramatic fashion on the band's excellent 2017 track, The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, the idea of a guitar solo on a National song seemed somewhat improbable, but lo and behold, there’s another one here. Soaring as it is, though, top prize has to go to the way the Dessner brothers lock in with one another in the song’s closing bars – lest you forget that they’re one of alt-rock’s most formidable two-guitar tandems.

For fans of: The War on Drugs, The Killers, New Order

Jackson Maxwell

Fall Out Boy – Love From the Other Side

What is it? The first single from Fall Out Boy’s recently announced eighth studio album, So Much (For) Stardust, Love From the Other Side finds Patrick Stump and co in fine, guitar-heavy form, as they exercise their decades-honed ability to write killer hooks over a massive-sounding bedrock of gain-laden powerchords and an otherwise monumentally large sound.

Standout guitar moment: Stump and Joe Trohman’s guitar work here is relatively simple, but that’s all it needs to be in order to bolster those effortless catchy vocal hooks.

For fans of: Panic! At The Disco, All Time Low, My Chemical Romance

Sam Roche

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Easy Now 

What is it? A solemn slow burner-turned-anthemic Gallagher classic that will go down well with the Oasis man’s legion of followers, who no doubt will turn up en masse to fill a festival field with its chorus hook in the near future. Previewing Noel’s upcoming album, Council Skies, it’s yet more evidence that Gallagher’s creative mind needs to be the subject of a scientific study: how he can still conjure up belter after belter after all these years is beyond us.

Standout guitar moment: This song is at it’s best when those glass-like guitars play second fiddle to Gallagher’s vocals, but there’s an especially ear-catching guitar solo at the 1:40 that calls upon drive and modulation for an irresistibly catchy hook.

For fans of: Oasis, Stone Roses, Sam Fender

– Matt Owen

Malina Moye – Say My Name

What is it? R&B rocker Malina Moye’s first single from forthcoming fourth album, Dirty, showcases a new direction for the left-handed dynamo, with a big pop production courtesy of Kendrick Lamar and Nikki Sixx producer Bjorn “Polarbear” Soderberg. There are some sparse single-note lines dotted throughout, but when the guitar takes the spotlight, Moye makes sure you know about it, deploying a fierce fuzz tone over the raging subs.

Standout guitar moment: Moye alternates between her trademark Surf Green Strat and Hendrix Flying V throughout the track – we’re not sure which ended up tracking the solo, but the unison bends that bring it to a close are perfectly placed. Props for the lyrical shoutout to “upside-down Hendrix licks”, too.

For fans of: Samantha Fish, Ayron Jones, Nova Twins

– Michael Astley-Brown

Screaming Females – Brass Bell

What is it? The ass-kicking first single and opening cut from the long-running New Jersey punk power trio’s newly-announced forthcoming album, Desire Pathway. This one’s best appreciated loud, trust us.

Standout guitar moment: Marissa Paternoster absolutely spoils us for choice on this front. There are the adrenaline-fueling squeals of feedback before the song kicks in, Paternoster’s gothic, Iommi-esque leads, her martial riffage... Oh, and did we mention the moment when, around the 3:30 mark, Paternoster leaves this earthly plane for eight bars of fretboard-melting fury? Our cups runneth over…

For fans of: Sleater-Kinney, St. Vincent, Black Sabbath

Jackson Maxwell

The Reytons – One More Reason 

What is it? The newest single from fast-rising English indie rock favorites The Reytons, who maintain their strong single-releasing form from the back-end of 2022 with One More Reason – an explosive guitar romp and final single before the release of the group’s second album, What’s Rock And Roll? It won’t take a rocket scientist to listen to The Reyton’s recent singles, put two and two together, and conclude said album will be a ruddy good listen. One More Reason is just a late reminder not to miss the show.

Standout guitar moment: The tones are crystal and huge – especially when those panned guitars come to a head – with the see-sawing strums of the verses proving to be particularly hypnotic.

For fans of: The Amazons, Circa Waves, Arctic Monkeys

– Matt Owen

Erase Theory – Stay

What is it? A new track from Jeff Sahyoun's – of LA rock outfit letlive. – new project, Erase Theory. Deeply emotional, the single deals with the subject of divorce, specifically Sahyoun's own. “[I wrote this song in] two hours,” he says, “as my fiancé was moving out of our house. I was so sad, I didn't give a shit about what it sounded like or how honest I was being.”

Standout guitar moment: The guitar solo from the 2:20 mark features a selection of rapid alternate picking runs that perfectly fit into the track's chord progression, while showcasing Sahyoun's formidable guitar chops.

For fans of: letlive., Every Time I Die

Sam Roche

Black Honey – Up Against It

What is it? A rowdy slice of ’90s-informed alt-rock from the hard-hitting UK outfit – think Big Muffs, big hooks, big everything. Up Against It is a tightly produced track, but bursts of feedback and behind-the-nut screeches keep it teetering on the edge of cacophony.

Standout guitar moment: The tones are absolutely massive here, but we love how sweetly subversive that reverb-drenched Whammy solo is in the middle eight.

For fans of: Momma, The Big Moon, Smashing Pumpkins

– Michael Astley-Brown

Fenne Lily – Lights Light Up

What is it? The lead single from the British singer/songwriter’s newly-announced LP, Big Picture, Lights Light Up is a delightfully deceptive tune with a sunny disposition, but heavy lyrics that traffic in painful memories.

Standout guitar moment: The lovely lead motif that first makes an appearance in the song’s intro does a lot of its melodic heavy lifting, and will lodge itself in your head for hours before you know what hit you.

For fans of: Big Thief, Laura Marling, Christian Lee Hutson 

Jackson Maxwell

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Sam Roche

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).