Staff Picks: Hair-Raising Solos
The Suffers’ Kevin Bernier joins us in saluting our current faves in scorching guitar.
There’s always new music out there, so instead of just thinking trad, this month we’re also thinking rad: sharing our favorite opuses right now. The Suffers’ Kevin Bernier joins PG editors in hailing our newest discoveries and still-ruling favorites in scorching guitar solos.
Q: At this moment, what guitar solo makes the hair on your neck stand up and dance?
Kevin Bernier — The Suffers
A: The best guitar solos complement the music and have a great sense of flow, like a good story. To name a few, John Petrucci’s shred-guitar badassery on Dream Theater’s “Under a Glass Moon,” the one-note on “Cinnamon Girl” by Neil Young, and Andy Summers’ tension-filled, 8-bar master class on brevity on the Police’s “Driven To Tears” are all great examples. However, if you made me pick one, it’d be Alex Lifeson’s solo on “La Villa Strangiato.”
My current obsession is: Getting better at guitar! One of the great things about playing in the Suffers is it’s a constant crash course in the fine art of playing in the pocket—an absolutely essential skill for every rhythm guitarist. We have four drummers and one awesome bass player, guaranteeing that I’m constantly on my toes.
Bryan Hudson — Reader of the Month
A: The first solo of “Comfortably Numb” by David Gilmour. It has everything I like in a solo and speaks to my core every time I hear it. Soaring lead lines, atmospheric backing music—it stops, it starts, and it culminates beautifully. It takes you somewhere, then brings you back down nicely. In the middle of such a dark song, the contrast is even more noticeable.
My current obsession is: Playing solos to cover songs that remain true to the song, yet still allow me some expressive freedom. Also, incorporating the Gurus Optivalve compressor into my rig to give my tone more sustain.
Ted Drozdowski — Senior Editor
A: Two solos, but one soloist: the incredible St. Vincent. Her playing on “Year of the Tiger” and “Your Lips are Red” fry my skull and make me float. On “Tiger,” her sound is melodic and surprising, an unusual combination, and on “Lips,” she howls like Neil Young. Her range and abilities are sunning. I came late to the party with her music, and am really impressed.
My current obsession is: My new Richie Owens signature parlor resonator. It’s super sweet and airy.
Rich Osweiler — Associate Editor
A: Boogarins lead guitarist Benke Farraz plays a pretty damn captivating solo on “6000 Dias” from the band’s recent release, Manual.The way Farraz uses space during the extended-bridge jam is spot-on in delivering a juiced-up psychedelic spin that builds in energy perfectly as the song crescendos.
My current obsession is: My Red Witch Zeus. Be it excellent synth sounds or a thunderstorm of scuzzy fuzz, this shiny box has some serious huevos.
Jason Shadrick — Associate Editor
A: For years, the solo on Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” hit me right in the guts with its use of space and emotion. It wasn’t until years later that I found out the rightful creator was sideman extraordinaire, Adam Levy.
My current obsession is: Since my wife, Cindy, and I started our little folk-pop duo, I’ve been focused on learning about different accompaniment styles. Not everything needs a syncopated strum pattern or James Taylor-style fingerpicking. There are worlds of options in between.