Milt Gore Myrtle Beach, South Carolina “Traumatized”
Longing for the days of big-’80s solo-electric guitar cadenzas that recall a Van Halen or a Rhodes blasting off at a summer arena gig? Well, this frenetic display of dive bombs and furious gnat notes should get you pumping a beer-drenched fist at the guitar-god heavens. Dude—this rocks!
Gémeaux Prometuer Chicago, Illinois “Musique de Nuit”
The idea of guitarist Jeffery Zampillo launching into seven minutes of undulating distortion washes and repetitive delay motifs probably will not thrill fans of shred or structure, but there’s an air of beauty and mystery to this piece that is as beguiling as a plaintive string quartet or an atmospheric film score.
Noel Christian Riddell Frankfort, Kentucky “Double Argent”
With a percolating groove and some resonant single-note lines, Riddell promises a vibey, Morricone-style adventure, but a thin and spitty counterpoint ruins the mood. (Perhaps a stranger, more sustained tone would have worked better?) Then, the piece meanders aimlessly. A little more focus, and this piece could have been breathtaking.
Trilhas Imaginárias Rio de Janeiro, Brazil “Walking Through Stars”
Following the rather standard ambient-music format of a fractured arpeggio processed with loads of delay, “Walking” doesn’t immediately steal your attention. However, as the piece unfolds, a few off-kilter and dissonant parts perk things up, and help bring this textural exploration to a subtle, but satisfying musical climax.
Adam Cook Watertown, Massachusetts “Callous”
Recorded direct through Fractal Audio’s Axe-FX, Cook’s tones are ballsy, articulate, and huge. But “Callous” isn’t solely an example of some groovy guitar sounds, as Cook melds wily arrangement and audio-production sensibilities with some cool riffs and soaring melodies. This is a truly thrilling song that rocks like a demon.
Randy Hogan Tidewater, Virginia “Heysham Cliffs”
After clicking through a ton of cool tracks this month, Hogan still managed to floor me with this quiet and achingly lovely piece. It’s subtle without being boring, familiar without being overtly clichéd, and passionate without being overwrought. His clean tone and expressive phrasing are stunning. What a beauty!
Colosus New York, New York “Axe-Men”
I was attracted to “Axe-Men” because the intro nails the dreamy buzz of the San Francisco psychedelic era. When the line was punctuated by a cheesy, pseudoclassical string crescendo, I laughed my ass off. But then, the guitars cranked up again, and, well, you gotta dig a track that keeps you guessing.
Jon Ciccarelli San Marcos, California “The Journey”
I must have been in a reflective mood this month, because the soft songs spoke to me the most, and this is another gorgeous track. Over drums and organ, Ciccarelli weaves a trance with repeating clean lines, before cutting into overdriven melodies that lift the song’s spirit without breaking its spell.