Blending a stew of punk, blues, twang, noise, rock, indie, and plenty more, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is back after an eight-year hiatus.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Meat and Bone
Boombox/Mom + Pop

For those who love their “blues” chock-full of surliness, attitude, and raw energy, it’s time to rejoice. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is back after an eight-year hiatus.

Blending a stew of punk, blues, twang, noise, rock, indie, and plenty more, this veteran NYC trio—featuring Spencer on guitar and vox, Judah Bauer on guitar, and Russell Simins on drums—has been knocking down barriers and influencing a number of successful mainstream bands (that offer up a somewhat lighter version of the JSBX) for more than 20 years.

You know you’re in for a wild ride with the first track’s fuzz-laden, feverish drive that would make Iggy proud. Delicious jams on tunes like “Black Thoughts” to the slow-moving and syrupy “Unclear” make for an engaging assortment. Produced by Spencer, who howls like a possessed songbird from prehistoric times, the record has a chaotic flavor with an aggressive and ultra-dirty delivery that’s beautifully put together at the same time. —Rich Osweiler

Must-hear track: “Black Mold”

It’s not difficult to replace the wiring in your pickups, but it takes some finesse. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. After numerous requests, this month we’ll have a closer look at changing wires on a single-coil pickup. As our guinea pig for this, I chose a standard Stratocaster single-coil, but it’s basically the same on all single-coil pickups and easy to transfer. It’s not complicated but it is a delicate task to not destroy your pickup during this process, and there are some things you should keep in mind.

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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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