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From psychedelic transatlantic collaborations to nostalgic acoustic ballads: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Vieux Farka Toure performs at the FORM Arcosanti 2019 at Arcosanti Urban Laboratory on May 12, 2019 in Arcosanti, Arizona
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

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.

Orianthi – Light It Up 

What is it? Aussie rock guitarist Orianthi is gearing up to release her fifth studio album, Rock Candy, later this year, and previewed the upcoming effort earlier this week by dropping the riff-loaded, surprisingly heavy Light It Up. As the name would suggest, it’s an all-out fretboard bonfire, packed full of swampy drop-tuned low-end jabs and a collection of fiery upper-fret noodles.

Standout guitar moment: The riff wins it here for us. Introduced as a single guitar line full of bends and quick-fire fret work, some drop-tuned backup swiftly arrives, thickening out the mix for what becomes one of Orianthi’s most infectious tunes yet. 

For fans of: Marcus King, Royal Blood

– Matt Owen

Lamb of God – Omens

What is it? The second single and title track from the Virginia groove metal powerhouse’s upcoming ninth album, Omens. In typical Lamb of God fashion, the four-minute rager packs no shortage of slamming electric guitar riffs courtesy of resident axe-slingers Mark Morton and Willie Adler, spanning drop D chug to the band’s tried-and-tested low-string Phrygian antics.

“A lot of the messes human beings find ourselves in could be very easily prevented simply by paying attention to obvious repeating patterns, both in our personal lives and in a broader socio-historical context,” says frontman Randy Blythe. “What some call ‘omens’ are really just manifestations of the fact that there is nothing new under the sun. It’s foolish to ignore this, but we all do it.”

Standout guitar moment: The breakdown section from 1:20 is going to need some stiff competition to beat when the album arrives in full on October 7.

For fans of: Machine Head, Trivium, DevilDriver

Sam Roche

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

What is it? Tackling one of Radiohead’s greatest three-guitar opuses (and there are many) is no simple task, but Rodrigo y Gabriela do it with aplomb in this, the Mexico City duo’s first new release since last year’s inspired cover of Metallica's The Struggle Within.

Standout guitar moment: The song’s called Arpeggi, so the guitar highlight will always be that hypnotic bed of fingerpicked arpeggios – which Rodrigo y Gabriela recreate perfectly here – but the way the duo evokes Ed O’Brien’s haunting backing vocals on the original with a slide will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

For fans of: Radiohead, José Gonzalez, Paco de Lucía

Jackson Maxwell

Dreadnought – Gears of Violent Endurance

What is it? Taken from the Denver, CO quartet’s forthcoming studio album, The Endless, this is a typically hypnotic work of progressive, descriptor-resistant alt-metal that operates out of a doom scene whose sound Dreadnought do not share. The arrangements have an automatic, driving krautrock quality but give way for what serves as a chorus but what is really just a big mood for the audience to get lost in.

Standout guitar moment: Kelly Schilling is playing for textures more than moments in this track, but the big takeaway from Gears of Violent Endurance is how capably she marshalls dynamics, flitting between a Schecter 8-string guitar, SG and Tele to find the right accompaniment for the song.

For fans of: Opeth, Ulver, Agalloch

– Jonathan Horsley

Robben Ford, Bill Evans – Common Ground 

What is it? The first single and title track from Bill Evans and Robben Ford’s upcoming album, which will be the pair’s second collaborative effort following 2019’s The Sun Room. Ford and Evans are a fool-proof formula for capturing genuine musical magic, and Common Ground is further evidence of the duo’s palpable chemistry. While Ford piles on the tremolo-tinged rhythms, Evans supplies the sporadic sax embellishment, resulting in an immensely soulful listening experience.

Standout guitar moment: Though Ford’s playing throughout is on-point, his solo at the 2:13 mark takes things up a notch. Tastefully compressed with a healthy helping of gain, the quickfire cameo is full of Ford’s best tricks: selectively assembled phrases, box-breaking licks and tasty turnarounds.

For fans of: Matt Schofield, Kirk Fletcher, Josh Smith

– Matt Owen

Tedeschi Trucks Band – Gravity

What is it? This is the sound of Tedeschi Trucks Band getting elemental on the third chapter in their quadruple album and film project I Am The Moon. Part three, The Fall was just shared with the world on Wednesday, and is released today on physical formats. 

There are sure to be multitudes of beguiling moments that will reveal themselves with the passage of time. But Gravity, and how it fits within the overarching concept of star-crossed lovers, facing a pull they are incapable of resisting, would be an obvious highlight. 

Standout guitar moment: This is one of those tracks in whichTTB finding a strutting groove, a soulful hook, the room to stretch out, but the rewind-and-play-again guitar moment is a bravura Derek Trucks guitar solo. Sometimes he makes that SG sound live the human voice, other times, like here, it sounds inspired by the animal kingdom. 

For fans of: The Allman Brothers Band, Gov't Mule, The Marcus King Band

– Jonathan Horsley

Vieux Farka Touré & Khruangbin – Savanne

What is it? The beguiling opener and lead single from Ali, a new LP-length collaboration between Vieux Farka Touré and the genre-blending Houston trio Khruangbin. A tribute to Vieux’s father, the late Malian guitar legend Ali Farka Touré, Ali will feature eight of his father’s compositions, both famous and obscure. Savanne is a stately introduction to the album – built upon a lulling but vital groove, and Vieux Farka Touré’s spellbinding guitar work.

Standout guitar moment: Incredibly dynamic and powerful – with each note perfectly articulated – Farka Touré’s stunning (mostly) unaccompanied intro alone is worth the price of admission.

For fans of: Mdou Moctar, Tinariwen, Kikagaku Moyo

Jackson Maxwell

Goatwhore – Born of Satan’s Flesh

What is it? Anyone familiar with the NOLA black metal stalwarts' oeuvre will know exactly what this is. Blackened thrash metal or thrashy black metal, whichever way you slice it, this comes out the speaker all het up with a fire and brimstone vibe so hot one gets the impression you could cook a steak just by wafting it at the speaker. As black metal goes, this is all-action extreme metal blasphemy. Goatwhore resist the urge to blast us all to kingdom come 24/7, but when they go for it they can be exhilarating indeed.

Standout guitar moment: Sammy Pierre Duet peels off an excellent solo in this, giving it a veneer of respectability – well, a musicality, shall we say, and one that contrasts nicely with the barbarism. But we are here for the scabrous chug. That's what gets heads a-banging.

For fans of: Black Anvil, Aura Noir, Absu

– Jonathan Horsley

David Lee Roth – Nothing Could Have Stopped Us Back Then Anyway

What is it? Yes, it's a bit of a mouthful, but count yourself lucky you didn't have to clear up the debris of the TV Van Halen threw off a balcony during their early days. This is just one recollection David Lee Roth remembers on his latest single, Nothing Could Have Stopped Us Back Then Anyway.

Others include the time an unnamed member of the band – possibly Eddie Van Halen – safety-pinned a tablecloth to his pants, and another occasion when the group were kicked out of a restaurant, consequently finishing the night on a park bench nearby drinking beer and eating McDonald's.

Standout guitar moment: To our best knowledge, it was John 5 who set aside his electric guitar and picked up an acoustic to lay down tracks for Nothing Could Have Stopped Us. And he highlights just what a versatile guitarist he is, cruising through the song’s silky unplugged lines with enviable grace.

For fans of: Van Halen, Crosby, Stills & Nash

Sam Roche

Hot Mulligan – Drink Milk and Run (Acoustic) 

What is it? A reimagined rendition of the latest track from Michigan post-emo exports Hot Mulligan, who, despite the de-electrified instrumentation, maintain their unrivaled energy levels and deliver a knockout performance that almost eclipses the original. Fans of all-things pop-punk will find solace with Hot Mulligan, who deliver delicate acoustic guitar strums, twinkly counterpoint motifs and infectious vocal lines.

Standout guitar moment: At the two minute mark, the acoustic guitar briefly gets the floor to itself, and makes the most of the opportunity by diving into a sleek arpeggiated sequence that's capped off with some neat open string runs. It continues thereafter, adding another luscious layer to the mix.

For fans of: KennyHoopla, Moose Blood, Neck Deep

– Matt Owen

Taipei Houston – As the Sun Sets

What is it? The debut single from Taipei Houston, a duo comprising two of Lars Ulrich’s songs, Myles and Layne. While you might be surprised that As the Sun Sets is far removed from the thrash metal with which the lads’ father made his name, it’s ultimately still rooted in the electric guitar, the tone of which is dialed to perfection with a ultra-grungy fuzz tone. 

We’re not yet sure when we’ll hear more material from Taipei Houston, but judging by the pair’s songwriting prowess on their debut single, we’d wager there’s plenty more to come.

Standout guitar moment: That opening riff perked our ears up and piqued our interest in about a second.

For fans of: The White Stripes, The Black Keys

Sam Roche

Built to Spill – Spiderweb 

What is it? Though the rhythm section is entirely different from the one that anchored this indie institution’s last full-length album of original songs – 2015’s Untethered Moon Spiderweb shows that all you really need for it to sound like Built to Spill is frontman/guitarist/songwriter Doug Martsch. The latest single from the band’s forthcoming album, When The Wind Forgets Your Name, Spiderweb has all the catchy, jangling riffing and classic pop-rock hooks one would expect from a Built to Spill number.

Standout guitar moment: Neil Young has always been one of Marsh’s most obvious guitar touchstones (see the band’s reverent, epic live cover of Young’s Cortez the Killer (opens in new tab)) and the ragged-but-emotive, distortion-coated exclamations that highlight the first of this song’s two guitar solos – particularly the wailing single-note stabs toward its conclusion – make his influence crystal clear.

For fans of: Dinosaur Jr., Neil Young, Pavement

Jackson Maxwell

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Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.