This coming-of-age anthem about home recording and Casio keyboards features a raging solo from the one and only J Mascis.

What’s not to like about Strand of Oaks’ second album? It pulls from the indie folk-pop perfection of Fleet Foxes, the timeless tones of Neil Young & Crazy Horse, the sonic orchestrations of Phosphorescent, and the guitar solos of Dinosaur Jr.

Actually, that happens to be J Mascis playing the blisteringly loud solos on “Goshen ’97”—the opening song from Strand of Oaks’ album Heal. Frontman/songwriter Timothy Showalter pens the kind of nostalgic lyrics that appeal to everyone—but especially to musicians. In “Goshen ’97,” he harks back to his humble, college-town beginnings in Indiana, with an endearing narrative that touches on living in a basement, buying used Casio keyboards with his friend, finding his dad’s old tape machine, and singing Smashing Pumpkins in the mirror. But the clincher is the chorus: “"I was lonely, but I was having fun."

Anyone who remembers that first experience of cloistering themselves in their bedroom to learn how to lay down that first overdub—whether via a Tascam 4-track or Garage Band—knows all too well that home-recording is one of the best ways to turn crippling loneliness into an epic one-person party. Strand of Oaks just turned it into an anthem.

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Meanwhile, coguitarist Dave Grahs—the band’s resident punk rocker—reveals a surprisingly roots-y side.

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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