This month we pet Haggard Cat, Bitch Falcon, Nervus, Scottibrains, Oceans Of Slumber and Snail Mail.
Get Nervus in your system
Despite our best attempts to emulate the posturing of our heroes, so many of us guitarists end up subconsciously absorbing a checklist of external opinions - the ideal tone requires this vintage pedal, you must nail your scales, you must record with a valve combo… and so on. Watford punk rockers Nervus proudly disagree with the rhetoric.
“The solos are my favourite bits on Everything Dies,” explains Nervus guitarist/ vocalist Em Foster, of her acclaimed second album. “But all of them are recorded through a Roland Cube amp It’s so DIY, so cheap and so simple, but they’re on an album that people are listening to as if it’s not played through a 2-watt plastic amplifier on my bedroom floor at my parents’ house. I think that’s fucking great.”
Em’s songs on the excellent Everything Dies document her journey coming to terms with gender dysphoria and meld Alkaline Trio-influences with a Replacements-y/Hüsker Dü college rock edge that provides a jumping off point for a plethora of catchy lead lines.
“I like to write parts that I can’t necessarily play and then try and play them,” continues Em. “I think, because I’m self-taught, I’ll just play in whatever way suits me at the time. I always remember my guitar teacher telling me that I had ‘a very strange technique’!”
Cheap, democratic and endlessly flexible: ultimately, the beauty of the guitar is the freedom it gives the player.
“The absolutely most important thing for me was to not compare what I’m doing to what anybody else is doing - to just do it,” ponders Em. “I always used to kind of tear what I did apart - in fact, I nearly binned all the demos off Everybody Dies. But, you know, it’s really easy to think that you’re not good enough or feel that whatever you’re doing is not fit to be heard - but it all is.”
- For fans of: Alkaline Trio, Creeper
- Gear: Fender TC-90, Blackstar Artist 30, Boss Blues Driver
What the HECK?
“Frenzied,” is the answer we get when we ask ex-HECK man and Haggard Cat guitarist Matt Reynolds to describe his guitar playing.
“It’s usually a battle between what I hear in my head and frantically trying to hammer it out on the fretboard before it’s gone forever.”
That style was played out to the nth degree in the four-piece destructo-madness of Matt’s prior group, but Haggard Cat (featuring long-term sticksman Tom Marsh) is bluesier, chunkier and offers you brief chances to get your breath back between the next bludgeoning, saw-toothed shakedowns.
“I really learned to play like ‘me’ on stages in front of people,” says Matt. “So hitting my guitar as hard as I can in the spur of the moment when adrenaline hits has translated into my style becoming really percussive. You know, I break lots of strings…”
- For fans of: HECK, Turbowolf
- Gear: 92 Gibson Explorer
Livin’ on a prey-er
It makes sense that - as a guitarist who cites Bowie collaborators Carlos Alomar and Ricky Gardiner, alongside Annie Clark and Tosin Abasi as infl uences - Bitch Falcon’s Lizzie Fitzpatrick has a diverse yet expressive sound.
“I guess I prefer a weirder approach to playing than the highly technical,” Lizzie tells us.
The Dublin trio’s catalogue already showcases a huge range, from Wolfstooth’s raging garage rock, to the Torche-gone-grunge-funk vibes of TMJ and the dark, monstrous chime Of Heart. The latter has the kind of colossal distortion tone that we would consider trading our first born for.
“I’m addicted to creating strange sounds,” says Lizzie. “Which can be more heard live than on the recordings. I’m defi nitely an FX nut, so my playing can be a bit more focused on my pedalboard than the fretboard!”
- For fans of: Chelsea wolfe, Torche
- Gear: Fender supersonic
- Who: Classically-trained guitarist Lindsey Jordan
- Sounds like: An indie-punk songsmith who wrings downplayed drama from jangling alternate tunings and slow-burn wistful writing
- Gear: Fender Jaguar, Vintage Crate tube amp, Rabbit Hole FX Phaser
- For fans of: Waxahatchee, Robert Earl Thomas
- Hear: Heat Wave
- Who: Producer/Speedy Wunderground founder Dan Carey
- Sounds like: Instrumental space-drone - alternately ear-aching, ambient and peppered with galactic ear candy
- Gear: 1966 Fender Mustang, Lazy-J 30-watt, Rainger FX Minor Concussion (which also channels the kick drum mic)
- For fans of: Hookworms, Hawkwind
- Hear: Sustained Threat
Oceans Of Slumber
- Who: Texan prog-metallers Sean Gary and Anthony Contreras
- Sounds like: Poignant and plaintive heavy prog rock with a doom-metal heart
- Gear: Sean - Solar A1.7ET. Anthony - Ibanez RG7621, Line 6 HD500X
- For fans of: Leprous, Evergrey
- Hear: The Banished Heart