In the mood for sultry noise rock? Dexy Valentine sounds like she was born to keep rock ’n’ roll dangerous.

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, being a Southern California garage-rock band meant adhering to period-correct tones, gear, and aesthetics of the 1960s. Thankfully, the anachronism police of yesteryear have moved on, grown up, or vanished into their Etsy stores. And this leaves bands like L.A.’s Bonfire Beach a lot more creative freedom than the Vox-guitar-and-Beatle-boot-clad set of yesteryear.

You also have to commend Bonfire Beach for scaling down its lineup to a simple quartet. (What is it with all those Los Angelino garage/shoegaze hybrid bands having between seven to 10 people onstage just to create a simple sound, anyway?)

To be fair, Bonfire Beach’s “Spit U Out” has more in common with Love and Rockets or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club than bands like the Warlocks or Brian Jonestown Massacre. It starts with Steven Fleet’s sinister fuzz riffing over a seductive beat provided by Charlie Woodburn and Brandon Robert’s pulsing, voluptuous bass lines. But it’s not until guitar strumming chanteuse Dexy Valentine comes in that the song takes life. Her haunting tenor is as alluring as a young Debbie Harry filtered through the dark charisma of Alison Mosshart.

How does a legacy artist stay on top of his game? The pianist, hit singer-songwriter, producer, and composer talks about the importance of musical growth and positive affirmation; his love for angular melodicism; playing jazz, pop, classical, bluegrass, jam, and soundtrack music; and collaborating with his favorite guitarists, including Pat Metheny and Jerry Garcia.

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See a sampling of picks used by famous guitarists over the years.

Marty Stuart

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Luthier Dave Helmer shows you how to cure buzzy strings, bad intonation, gnarly frets, high action, and other common troubles with off-the-shelf axes.

Guitars are the best. We love them. It’s fun to fall in love with a guitar at a store, buy it, and proudly bring it home. But we’ve all been there … where after a month that new guitar is just not playing as good as it was before. As guitar players, we know what feels good and what feels bad when it comes to playability. Maybe you have setup preferences that you like on all your guitars, or maybe you want to experiment with changes to your setup?

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