This month's selection of six-string spins includes Hamish Anderson, Freak, Moaning [pictured], Robert Earl Thomas, Vundabar and Lovebites.
Aussie blues-rock man hurries up and waits
There’s a trend among young bluesmen, much like the perennial boy racer, to play guitar with go-faster stripes, souping up knackered licks with frippery and cold pace. LA-based, Australian-born songwriter Hamish Anderson is a very different proposition. He favours the slow burn.
“[It’s] simplicity,” Hamish tells us. “I’ve never been interested in being a technically good guitarist - or in speed for that matter. For me, I’m more attracted to feel and simplicity, so that’s the type of guitar player that I strive to be.”
This approach pervades every aspect of Hamish’s process. Part Tom Petty, part JJ Cale, his deftly-constructed 2017 debut album Trouble led to him touring the US alongside Vintage Trouble and Kenny Wayne Shepherd last year. But it’s his gravelly guitar work - undress-y, louche and noticeably slower playing than his peers - that truly sets him apart. Lyrical and soulful in a way that few manage, it would be tempting to dub Hamish ‘wise beyond his years’, but that - along with being horribly patronising - suggests an ear that’s gifted rather than honed. Trust us: sounding this relaxed in the digital age takes a lot of work.
“I write on a typewriter when I can,” expands Hamish. “Because you really have to commit to what you write and you can eliminate distractions. I use my phone to get ideas down quickly as they come and record voice memos; when it comes to lyric writing I find too often that I’ll get distracted by a message or I’ll open up social media and get lost. When writing on a typewriter you can be totally in your zone.”
He’ll need that focus: 2018 is shaping up to be a big year, with a trip to Europe already in the bank, not to mention second-album sessions. “The goal is to perform in the UK in 2018,” reveals Hamish. Let’s just hope that this is one thing he does quickly.
- For fans of: Jonathan Wilson, Gary Clark Jr.
- Gear: ‘52 Telecaster Reissue, Twin Reverb, T-Rex Mudhoney
Essex’s frantic three-piece unleashed
Seizing the torch recently sparked by the likes of Slaves, Chelmsford three-piece Freak add a Kinks-y edge to brain-melting boredom and middle-class mundanity. Utilising a beloved Fiesta Red Strat (‘Bianca’), frontman Connar Ridd has an ear for a shreddy lick, interspersing manic Cobain and Davies-influenced lead lines on Everyone’s The Same and I Like To Smile When I’m Sad.
“I’ve always loved crazy solos in The Kinks, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana tracks,” says Connar. “The chaos of the solos in songs like You Really Got Me, Dani California and In Bloom are what get me really excited.” Connar’s talent is combining this sort of short, sharp lead explosion with earworm chord progressions. “I do my own thing. [With the guitar] there isn’t one right way, loads of things work - that’s what makes it so exciting.”
- For fans of: Slaves, Arctic Monkeys
- Gear: Fender Strat, Hot Rod Deville
Sub Pop-signed post-punks wail
In some ways LA’s Moaning are the quintessential misplaced post-punk band, but music knows no borders, so alongside the downbeat distortion, recalling the rain- drenched rubble mounds of 80s Manchester, there’s a subtle, expansive West Coast synth gleam and bass zip that diverts from pastiche to poetry.
Frontman-guitarist Sean Solomon is economical and exorcising in his lyrics and his playing, dropping in micro-leads between jarring chord sequences most affectingly on Moaning’s stellar single Don’t Go. “That solo is meant to represent a sense of urgency and longing,” he tells TG. “I don’t like long and drawn-out guitar parts. I like getting to the point as quickly as possible. I hate jammers and noodlers.” It’s a wavering balance, one of “atonal guitar chords juxtaposed with catchy melodies” that’s at once cathartic and spiky, or perhaps more appropriately, warm and cold.
- For fans of: Protomartyr, Metz
- Gear: Fender Mustang, Deluxe Reverb
Robert Earl Thomas
- Who: Widowspeak guitarist flying solo
- Sounds like: Woozy, gentle echoes of Petty and Springsteen interlaced with folk to create a sort of hopefully hopeless Americana
- Gear: 90s Mexican Strat, Fender Blues Junior
- For fans of: War on Drugs, Kurt Vile
- Hear: Another Age
- Who: Boston guitarist/songwriter Brandon Hagen
- Sounds like: Addictive, introspective garage pop. Easy to swallow but with caustic, melancholic side-effects
- Gear: Fender Deluxe Roadhouse, Fender Deville
- For fans of: Les Say Fav, Mellah
- Hear: Acetone
- Who: Japanese power metallers Midori and Mi-ya
- Sounds like: Myth, might and some awe-inspiring shred leads
- Gear: Midori - E-II FRX SW Custom, Kemper Profiling Amp. Mi-ya -Dean Guitars Icon, Orange Dual Dark 100
- For fans of: Dragonforce, Sonata Arctica
- Hear: Shadowmaker