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.
Larkin Poe – Blood Harmony
What is it? The second single of 2022 to arrive courtesy of sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell, and the latest preview of Larkin Poe’s forthcoming sixth studio album, Blood Harmony. As always, Rebecca is in charge of six-string duties, conjuring up a wealth of swampy riffs, while Megan is on hand to flesh things out with a smattering of lap steel action. It’s a masterclass in dynamic arrangement, with the track building and building towards its head sway-inducing finale. It’s got a rad video, too, which premiered exclusively on Guitar World this week.
Standout guitar moment: By the end, Blood Harmony is a mosaic of soulful sound, but at its core is the intro riff, which, despite being fairly simple, is strong enough to carry the entire track on its shoulders.
For fans of: Samantha Fish, Susan Tedeschi, Marcus King
– Matt Owen
Kirk Fletcher – Heartache By The Pound
What is it? The latest single and title track from blues titan Kirk Fletcher’s upcoming album, which will be arriving later this month. Put simply, it’s Fletcher through-and-through, recruiting some effortlessly cool lead embellishments that sporadically crop up throughout the track’s runtime and introducing arguably one of Kirk’s catchiest melody hooks to date. Plus, the tone is quite something here, too – it’s just clean, but it’s clean done right, and is probably the result of Fletcher’s stunning new Murphy Lab ES-345, which he affectionately dubs OgieRea.
Standout guitar moment: Fletcher is known for his proficient phrasing and for having a robust internal compass when it comes to working his way round the fretboard, but sometimes less is more – a sentiment epitomized by that glorious intro hook, which gets our vote.
For fans of: Josh Smith, Matt Schofield, Robben Ford
– Matt Owen
Disturbed – Hey You
What is it? After guitarist Dan Donegan unveiled his “Fuck cancel culture” guitar last week, fighting what they call “outrage addiction” appears to remain the Chicago metal titans’ MO. On Hey You, over weighty guitar riffs and a few of his trademark “Ah”s, frontman David Draiman rails against “hyper-tribalism”, and critiques the “dangerous status quo we are living in”.
Standout guitar moment: Nearly 30 years in the game have done nothing to quell the formidable riff writing ability of Dan Donegan. Hey You’s main guitar hook is straight-talking, but monumental sounding as a result.
For fans of: Stone Sour, Drowning Pool, Godsmack
– Sam Roche
Marcus Mumford – Cannibal
What is it? The man who – with the help of his "sons" – brought the sounds and look of the Depression era back into style with his stomping, anthemic take on folk has gone solo. Cannibal is the introspective–yet-soaring lead single from (self-titled), Marcus Mumford's debut solo album, and – sarcasm aside – it shows the songwriting skill behind the seismic impact Mumford & Sons had on music.
Standout guitar moment: Of course, Cannibal eventually explodes in its final minute, but the stark, muted and fingerpicked acoustic progression of the track's first three minutes is the perfect vehicle for its vulnerable, piercing lyrics.
For fans of: The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, Radical Face
– Jackson Maxwell
Imperial Triumphant – Tower of Glory, City of Shame
What is it? Super-gnarly metal that’s augmented out of sight with a sense of adventurism that brackets the New York extremists as one of the most daringly avant-garde bands the underground has produced in recent years. There’s a jazz pedigree to the personnel that is writ large on the elastic compositions.
No one writes and performs metal like this – kind of death metal, kind of black metal, but really off the charts. Most bands are just too rigid. But the improvisational internal logic of the band allied to the vision of guitarist/vocalist Zachary Ezrin makes it work.
Standout guitar moment: Guitar riffs are usually something that stick with us. That’s the point. The verse riff here – as far as it is a motif – resists all that. It sounds like the guitar is choking, spluttering out of the ether. And it serves a different purpose; it tells us that, stylistically, all bets are off. This black metal, death metal hybrid is not operating on the same spectrum as the rest of us.
For fans of: Schammasch, Portal, Deathspell Omega
– Jonathan Horsley
Electric Callboy – FCKBOI (feat. Conquer Divide)
What is it? Pop-punk is well and truly back in style, and Electric Callboy, a German outfit known principally for their metalcore/electronicore musical leanings, have jumped firmly on the bandwagon on their latest single, FCKBOI. The track – which also features Conquer Divide – bears all the hallmarks of classic pop-punk (feathery arpeggios, chunky powerchords, light-hearted lyrics et al), but includes metalcore-esque drop-tuned guitars, and even a trap-style section in the middle eight.
Standout guitar moment: Not a moment, as such, but those guitars that run the length of the song are both chunky and infectious.
For fans of: Machine Gun Kelly, WILLOW
– Sam Roche
Regressor – Moonlight Chief (feat. Sam Rapley)
What is it? A new single from up-and-coming instrumental extraordinaire Regressor – aka Joseph Stevenson – who has recruited saxophone star Sam Rapley for a four-and-a-half-minute jolly round some of the tastiest prog rock licks we’ve heard all year. From the introduction of the delay-drenched intro melody all the way to atmospheric outro of six-string soundscapes, Moonlight Chief provides guitar ear candy of the highest order, complete with time signature-shifting runs and key-altering turnarounds.
Standout guitar moment: The sax and six-string each get their time to shine via extended solo efforts, but the track reaches its goosebump-inducing peak when they both converge at the 2:40 mark for a reprise of the original motif. Having said that, Stevenson’s display of his insane prog rock chops straight after isn’t too shabby, either.
For fans of: Plini, Jack Gardiner, Owane
– Matt Owen
Russian Circles – Betrayal
What is it? This is the sound of the Chicago instrumentalists operating at the bleakest frontier of their post-rock sound, and it finds Mike Sullivan’s guitar sculpting a brutalist panorama, blurring the line between the hideous and the beautiful. Betrayal is taken from the band’s forthcoming album, Gnosis, which is released through Sargent House on August 19th.
Best guitar moment: Those downtuned riffs that saw the composition in two. It’s as though the aerated noise of what has gone before coalesces, turns to concrete. It’s brutal and ugly and therapeutic all at once, and anyone with a penchant for guitar noise who has spent too long in the city will appreciate its unforgiving density.
For fans of: Pelican, Jesu, Botch
– Jonathan Horsley