6 fresh guitar artists you need to hear in May

This month we check out Shame, Aiming For Enrike, Austin Gold, Rain, Hey Charlie and Salad Boys...


The so-called snowflake generation gets frosty

We’ve all played shows we’d describe as ‘character building’. Given south London post-punks Shame have more character than most, it makes sense, then, to hear their unique take on the Great British Identity Crisis so neatly represented by an early experience playing the genteel Richmond River Festival…

“We saw ‘festival’ and were like, ‘Yes! We’re playing a festival!’” recalls guitarist Sean Coyle-Smith. “So we turn up and there’s all of these white chairs set out and old people bumbling about. You could get Cumberland sausages over the way!”

We ended up playing this set with me playing lead parts on an acoustic through a PA

The scene, somewhat at odds with the concrete brutalism and toilet-tag lyrics of Shame’s sound, soon placed second to the realisation that they’d been left without drums and that the pickup battery in Sean’s guitar had perished.

“We ended up playing this set with me playing lead parts on an acoustic through a PA and the drummer playing nothing but a hi-hat and a snare,” says Sean. “Then the guy came over and asked us to turn it down because we were playing a song we had at the time called Gone Fisting.”

That show is an apt metaphor for Shame’s entire existence – a direct, comic, absurd response to a social situation that seems beyond a joke. Still, with Shame there’s a sense that there’s light in the cracks.

Singer Charlie Steen’s vignettes are delivered with unflinching Strummeresque verve, while Sean’s sparkly Marr-like lines on One Rizla from their debut Songs Of Praise point the way to more ambitious things. And they’re not alone in that belief, either: their booker is firming up a 2018 tour schedule longer than Trump’s shit list. But of course, they’ve got the determination.

“We played that Richmond show in its entirety,” concludes Sean. “I feel like 99 per cent of bands would have said no but we played for 30 minutes. We got £30 for it, though…”

  • For fans of: Slaves, Goat Girl 
  • Gear: Fender USA Strat, Fender Hot Rod, EHX Turnip Greens

Austin Gold

UK blues rockers step beyond the noodle

Peterborough’s Austin Gold first formed as a “blues workout collective” for frontman/lead guitarist David James Smith. A pro player of 10 years, David had few expectations initially.

“However, it was so evident that we played so well as a unit, that I was compelled to write some material,” comments David. “Not just a vehicle for my guitar noodles! However, I can noodle a bit!” Indeed he can. Tracks like Another Kinda Bad from debut album Before Dark Clouds channel a Morello-meets-Bonamassa approach to electric blues.

“I tried to explore simple, almost vocal-hook lines to triplet legato flat five stuff and tone-bend runs,” says David. “But, honestly, it was only working with our producer Andy Hawkins that I realised what playing for the song meant. Go nuts if it’s required, if not: keep your cool!”

  • For fans of: Black Country Communion, The Temperance Movement 
  • Gear: Vanquish DS, Mesa/Boogie Single Rectifier

Aiming For Enrike

Ear-opening genius dingbats

Given the wealth of joyful noise sources available to guitarists, it is criminally lazy that most guitar bands sound the same. This cannot be said of Norwegians Aiming For Enrike.

“I would say it’s an instrumental guitar and drum duo that sounds like nothing else,” guitarist Simen Følstad Nilsen tells TG and, for once, it’s not bluster. Simen is a guitarist whom appears not to have heard other guitarists. While many duos hammer the tired but effective heavy-blues rock formula, AFE’s new album Las Napalmas conjures a pedal-driven racket, amassing clouds of glassy distortion from light-fingered passages of rusting melodic machinery.

“I like guitar sounds that sound like something other than a guitar,” summarises Simen, modestly. We’ll go further: bored to the back teeth with cliched riffs and preset tones? Set your sights on Aiming For Enrike.

  • For fans of: Alpha Male Tea Party 
  • Gear: Fender Baritone Special, Vox AC30, DigiTech Whammy


Who: Venn-signed Swindonians Harry Steel and Rhys James
Sounds like: shoegaze ennui through 1000 layers of purified oscillating fuzz-verb
Gear: Harry – Epiphone Les Paul, Fender Champion. Rhys – Fender CIJ Jaguar, Twin Reverb
For fans of: Nothing, Ride
Hear: Abstract Vision

Hey Charlie

Who: London guitarist Lizz Steichen
Sounds like: A sugar rush headache of thudding proportions, born from feasting on unsavoury grunge licks alongside addictive E-numbered pop candy
Gear: Fender Mustang, 65 Deluxe Reverb, Kemper, Skreddy Supa Tone
For fans of: InHeaven, Skating Polly
Hear: Young & Lonesome

Salad Boys

Who: Christchurch, NZ guitarist Joe Sampson
Sounds like: sublime melodic garage rock channeling the shambolic soul of 80s college rock greats
Gear: Japanese Fender Stratocaster 12-string, Marshall 2061x 20w Head, Vox Lil' Night Train
For fans of: The Chills, The Replacements
Hear: Exaltation

Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.

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