Los Angeles–based band New Language are not new to us here at Tuned Up. Last year we premiered a single of theirs, and earlier this year we included them on an Artists To Watch list for 2020. And so far that has proved to be the case, as they are starting to catch fire and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. They play a very infectious brand of alt-rock that is sure to continue to catch on. What we have seen from them up to this point is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a band that I think will be huge in a few years. They have all the necessary elements. Today they also released an EP, so while reading this, you should listen to the EP as well. There is a link here at the bottom. And this edition of Five Albums with Cobra is with New Language guitarist, Sebastien Betley. Enjoy!!!
I’ve been a guitar nerd for almost my entire life. I remember being a kid, playing classical guitar on my mom’s old nylon string guitar and hearing “Far Beyond the Sun” by Yngwie Malmsteen. I was already into Metallica, Pearl Jam, Clapton, Zeppelin, and had a passable version of “Malagueña” happening at the time on my instrument, but I had no idea a guitar could do THAT. I was obsessed. There was a natural progression of getting into guys like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Johnson, Paul Gilbert, Steve Morse, and John Petrucci… I could talk about those dudes until I’m blue in the face, but here are a few records a little off the beaten path of shreddy guitar that have inspired me over the years. – Sebastien Betley, New Language
5 Albums that’ll Melt Your F*cking Face
You Had It Coming – Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck’s an all-time great. He never really reached the widespread appeal of guys like Clapton and Hendrix, but if you know, you know. Jeff’s style is so recognizable and unique, and he’s always trying new and different things—this record’s got some really interesting electronic production and, of course, killer guitar playing. Imogen Heap hops in for some guest vocals on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” and there’s some really cool microtonal bending and awesome choices on “Nadia,” which was his take on a pop song by Indian artist Nitin Sawhney. Really rad stuff.
The Way of the Exploding Guitar – Mr. Fastfinger
I got into Mr. Fastfinger back in the days of Newgrounds, AddictingGames, and Miniclip, when Flash animation ruled the internet. I found this crazy site with a bunch of awesome animations of this guitar-playing-Ninja guy named Mr. Fastfinger who had all these insane guitar licks tabbed out, and I was instantly hooked. The man behind it, Mika Tyyskä, is a super awesome and super tasteful player who’s put out a bunch of cool records since then, too! Check out his whole discography, there’s a ton of good stuff.
Dunno – Owane
I thank the Spotify algorithm gods for this one—I discovered Owane 2 or 3 years ago after a week on the road listening almost entirely to shred guitar and jazz records. Owane’s playing is heavily jazz and R&B influenced, but he’s got major chops and an awesome stratty tone. A 60 cycle hum is annoying AF, but I’m a sucker for a mid-gain, single-coil lead guitar tone. His lines, grooves, chord changes and songwriting choices are all super creative, too. Check out album opener “Rekt” for a little taste of what I’m talking about.
Moving Parts – Benny Greb
Be warned—this one isn’t a guitar record!! I forget where I found out about Benny Greb, but I’ve always been into the concept of drummer-as-bandleader, guys like Billy Cobham and Brian Blade. I played drums as a kid, and once upon a time thought I was going to be the next John Bonham until, well… Yngwie! This record is super cool: all trio arrangements featuring Benny’s heavy grooves and some really interesting ambient guitar textures as well.
Wheelhouse – Greg Howe
Greg Howe’s been around a long time as a session player and independent artist, but I’ve only gotten into him recently. There’s a ton of notes on this record, but the choices he makes are always super interesting—I love all of the shreddiest shredders, but Greg never seems to fall into any pattern-based or repetitive lick kind of stuff. It’s a lot of these super athletic lines with wide interval leaps and really innovative techniques and playing. If you’re into funky/groovy fusion-rock with super cool chord changes and enough notes to turn your grey matter into a smooth porridge, Greg Howe is your guy.
And here is the link to their EP that dropped today. Give it a listen!!!!