This week's essential guitar tracks: two of YouTube's biggest shred heroes team up and a slide titan pays tribute to a Southern rock guitar legend

Sophie Lloyd and Cole Rolland
(Image credit: Press)

Hello, and welcome to a new Spotify playlist-embiggened Essential Guitar Tracks. As you may well know, 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.

Our goal is to give you an overview of the biggest tracks, our editor’s picks and anything you may have missed. We’re pushing horizons and taking you out of your comfort zone – because, as guitarists, that’s something we should all be striving for in our playing. 

So, here are our highlights from the past seven days… now with a Spotify playlist (scroll to the bottom for the latest additions)!

Sophie Lloyd – Lost (feat. Cole Rolland)

It’s not the first time Sophie Lloyd and Cole Rolland have collaborated, but it’s definitely the best – lifted from Lloyd’s imminent debut album, Lost is 200 seconds of eyebrow-singing harmonies and face-melting runs, and while we’re not exactly sure what’s going on with the robotic face accessories, there’s something definitely superhuman about that closing exchange. (MO)

Mutoid Man – Call of the Void

Steven Brodsky leapfrogs back from Cave In to his other genre-bending riff merchants, Mutoid Man, with this pinch harmonic-laden lead guitar fest that echoes Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads in in its borderline neoclassical lead guitar fury. (MAB)

Steve Lukather – Someone 

Whether intentional or not, the session guitar king channels one of his fellow ‘80s pop-rock guitar heroes, Andy Summers, in the main riff of this, the second single from his forthcoming LP, Bridges. The two quick-fire solos, though, really show Luke’s mastery of atmosphere and six-string storytelling – there are just a handful of notes in each, and you’ll be hanging on every last one of them. (JM)

Matteo Mancuso – Drop D

With an unorthodox technique and an otherworldly ability to formulate phrases, it’s no wonder Italian virtuoso Matteo Mancuso has already received high praise from the likes of Steve Vai, Tosin Abasi and Joe Bonamassa. Drop D demonstrates why such praise has been issued – it’s a simply staggering piece of guitar work, and that right hand picking technique truly is something else. (MO)

Duane Betts – Stare at the Sun (featuring Derek Trucks)

Betts and Trucks share a musical and literal family in the Allman Brothers Band (Betts is the son of founder Dickey Betts, while Trucks remains the band’s gifted slide player and nephew of first drummer Butch Trucks). It shouldn’t be a surprise then, but Stare at the Sun still raises hairs – a seamless yet electrifying collaboration between two natural playing partners. (MP)

Starbenders – Sex

Make room on your solo of the year shortlist: Kriss Tokaji absolutely scorches on his warped ’80s shredathon over this driving anthem from the Atlanta, GA rock n' rollers. (MAB)

Buck Meek - Haunted Mountain 

The Big Thief guitarist’s third solo album was apparently written in a variety of mountainous regions, so it’s appropriate that he lead off with the wistful, scrappy romance of Haunted Mountain. Recorded live with no headphones, it is the sound of a band in a room – all wrangling acoustics, gliding pedal steel and a tight, fuzzy solo. (MP) 

Jacob Slater – Kissin’ Booth

The frontman from British indie rock upstarts Wunderhorse spent most of their debut record powering through riffs and vocal hooks while wielding a Gibson Les Paul. Here, he takes a fingerstyle acoustic turn for his debut single, flexing a more technical and dynamic aspect to his playing. (MO)

Jealous of the Birds – Not Today 

Propelled from the first bar by a monster of a groove, Not Today is one of the funkiest tunes singer/songwriter Naomi Hamilton has penned to date for her Jealous of the Birds project. That groove jumps at you first, but the swaggering, played-for-the-cheap-seats hard-rock solo is the surprising ace up Not Today’s sleeve. (JM)

Evile – The Unknown

The Ol Drake-fronted UK metal institution have their Black Album moment, hitting the brakes on their “500mph” thrash down for groovier, swaggering riffs and melodic vocals. Massive tones, too. (MAB)

Royal Blood – Mountains at Midnight

At long last, album number three is on the way from Royal Blood, and you’ll be pleased to hear their habit of amping up their simple-yet-huge sound with each instalment continues apace. Mountains at Midnight is no-nonsense riffage from start to finish – and that bass tone will never, ever get old. (MO)

NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge) – Daydreaming

Neo-soul luminary Jairus “J.Mo” Mozee takes center stage in this liquid-smooth R&B jam, first laying down some Hendrixian cleans, before letting rip with a wailing solo replete with singing bends and a slick tapping finish. (MAB)

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz – Prophecy Of The Dragon

The Strokes’ frontman uses his solo band, The Voidz, to get all of his strangest artistic impulses out, and boy howdy does his new single with them, Prophecy Of The Dragon, sure have some weird ones. There’s some Strokes-y dual-guitar interplay, and the kind of just plain cool solo that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from the hands of Strokes guitarists Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi… but then there are those rhythm guitar chugs that are taken straight from the James Hetfield playbook. Crazy stuff, this. (JM)

HotWax – Mother

With three members each aged 18 years old, HotWax are already hotly tipped as the UK’s most exciting new band. Mother is undeniable proof, bringing Nirvana’s loud/quiet/loud dynamic and abrasive solo hooks into 2023 with a generation Z flair. (MAB)

Rancid – Devil in Disguise

A rasping, stomp-along that rattles and thunders into a short punked-up Chuck Berry solo run. The Berkeley, CA vets release their 10th album, Tomorrow Never Comes, next month. Let’s hope they’re wrong on that central contention, or it may never get here. (MP)

The Snuts – Gloria

As one of the UK’s most exciting up-and-coming guitar bands, The Snuts – who scored a number one album with their 2021 debut, W.L. – would be forgiven for feeling a bit of pressure from fans to maintain their momentum. Gloria, however, shows no sign of that being the case: expect anthemic hooks and a really tasty guitar riff. (MO)

Arlo Parks – Devotion

Devotion’s ‘90s alt-rock-informed mojo doesn’t just come from the Sebadoh shirt Arlo Parks sports in the track’s music video. The track’s second half is all grunge catharsis, with pick-up-’n’-play riffage and one of the most delectable crunch tones we’ve heard all year. (JM)

The Warning – More

The latest from the Villarreal Vélez sisters taps into the kind of Muse-inspired neo-rock harnessed so effectively by Royal Blood and their contemporaries but the hooks dig into your brain that little bit harder. The descending pitch bend on the chorus riff here is seriously addictive. (MAB)

Teenage Fanclub – Foreign Land

The Scottish indie icons return with their sunny new single, which is about embracing a Dylan-style Don’t Look Back philosophy in a period of life that may otherwise leave you dwelling on the past. Fortunately, the wealth of vintage gear used in the video appears to be an exception to the rule. (MP)

Nat Myers – Pray For Rain

With the spirit of Delta Blues heroes such as Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson in his hands – and some contemporary Keb’ Mo’-esque flair to boot – resonator loyalist Nay Myers makes light work of this classic blues progression, treating it to blissful fingerstyle licks and oh-so-smooth turnarounds. (MO)

Florence Black – Start Again

Guitarists whose musical compass points towards Seattle are strongly advised to recalibrate their riff navigation systems to Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, where the Tristan Thomas-fronted trio have been honing their own brand of grungy rock bruisers – Start Again being a devastating case in point. (MAB)

Miss Tiny – The Beggar

London guitarist/producer Dan Carey has worked with just about every exciting (non-metal) UK guitar band across the last decade and he’s not out of ideas yet – this single from his new duo, Miss Tiny, is full of skittering palm-muted licks, which meld with the drums in an almost hip hop style arrangement. (MP)

Jeff Rosenstock – Liked U Better

All told, there are few punk songsmiths out there today that can hold a candle to Jeff Rosenstock. His latest single is irresistible, with an all-caps, sing-along chorus and a dynamite, hook-filled solo tailor-made for air guitar. (JM)

Hail the Sun – Chunker

Calling all Fall of Troy and Mars Volta fans: Hail the Sun drink from the same progressive post-hardcore punch bowl but inject a level of unapologetic guitar flash that we are very much here for – the opening riff of Chunker must be one of the most rapid-fire fretboard workouts of the year. (MAB)

The Linda Lindas – Too Many Things

Hooray, as ever, for The Linda Lindas. Too Many Things is an ode to the busy brain layered over thick slices of palm-muting, distortion and with a chorus that is so catchy it will crowd out all other invasive thoughts. (MP)

Guided By Voices – Seedling

Roughly 15,000 albums or so into their career (we kid, of course – the real number is roughly three dozen and change), Guided by Voices have their guitar-driven sound on absolute lock. 

With Byrds-like jangle and Ramones-like power, Seedling – the lead single from the group’s latest full-length, Welshpool Frillies – perfectly captures the elements of this indie institution’s venerable two-guitar attack. (JM)

Cadaver – The Age of the Offended

The new album from Norwegian death metal staples Cadaver is described as “angry, fucked up album for angry, fucked up times”, and there are no arguments here. But there’s a doom-grunge edge to the title track’s riffs that only enhances their apocalyptic mood. And what about that 12-string slide solo, eh? You don’t hear that in death metal every day. (MAB)

Squid – The Blades 

Squid’s approach to the guitar is to take great leaps of faith between different tonal touchstones. Here, the result is a marriage of Radiohead’s ringing arpeggios and squeals with explosive moments of crunching distortion and flitting pitch-shifts. (MP)

Meshell Ndegeocello – Clear Water

This spellbinding tune from Ndegeocello’s upcoming album, The Omnichord Real Book, is highlighted by fluid fretwork from maestro Jeff Parker that touches on the expected Blue Note classics, but is still fresh, and powerfully of-the-moment. (JM)

Thulcandra – As I Walk Through The Gateway

Steffen Kummerer of Obscura fame channels blackened ’90s death metal with the latest cut from his Thulcandra project. It’s as dark as metal gets, but with a modern melodic edge. (MAB)

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as more than 20 years performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.