This week, we’re starting with Italian-born multi-instrumentalist, Alessandro Cortini. Alessandro is best known as a member of the legendary industrial rockers, Nine Inch Nails (since 2004), as well as a member of the Trent Reznor-led project, How To Destroy Angels. Cortini has also been creating his own music for multiple projects under his own name, as well as for SONOIO, Blindoldfreak, and Modwheelmood, and is an all-around brilliant electronic composer.
After moving from Italy to the United States to study guitar at the Musicians Institute, Cortini landed a gig as the touring guitarist for the band, The Mayfield Four and was briefly teaching at M.I. post-graduation. It was here where he spotted an ad for open auditions for Nine Inch Nails and managed to impress Reznor from his first riff.
My first thought when Alessandro walked in was that he didn’t look like what I had in mind. His presence was intense but gentle, not the “I’m gonna attack you” energy fans might associate with NIN. Then he started, and within 30 seconds I was like, “that’s the guy!” I never once regretted it. Without taking anything away from Charlie [Clouser] Alessandro is really into playing the studio parts as much as humanly possible.Trent Reznor to Keyboard Magazine
Alessandro’s musicianship goes beyond his guitar and bass talents that he studied in school and ultimately lead him to NIN. Alessandro has also really found a spot in the synth/keyboard soundscape world where he’s become a real leader in the electronic composing space, building layers upon layers of audio that are made to replicate human emotion. Check out some of Cortini’s work below.
Catchy choruses, thick guitars, and dueling solos are some guarantees when listening to West Virginia based power pop/punk rockers, Rozwell Kid.
To truly understand what makes this band great, you need to make sure to catch them at a live show. Their blend of Weezer inspired power rock hooks, 80’s metal-esque guitar solos, and pop (dare we say, pop-punk) style lyrics offer just about everything from relationships to social anxiety. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Jordan Hudkins leans in to his graphic design schooling, love for superheroes, and his desire to be an actor with Rozwell Kid. He’s created loads of videos and merchandise that seem to capture the groups’ anti-serious outlook on life.
I fulfill both desires: my extreme desire to be the center of attention and getting to play music, write music, travel. I like being in a band, it’s dope.Jordan Hudkins to Track Record
Rozwell Kid just released a new split with the band Sleeping Bag titled, Dreamboats 2, a sequel to their previously released split, Dreamboats. Check out all of their latest tunes below.
It’s pretty tough to describe our next artist on this week’s list. Part prog-metal, part traditional Venezuelan with a jazz-fusion flare, Felix Martin has been making a name for himself with his unique music and for the use of his unmistakable double-neck 14 and 16-string electric guitar.
Martin grew up in Venezuela but moved to Boston to study at the Berklee School of Music. After graduation, he stayed in order to tour with his band while signed to Prosthetic Records, playing shows alongside artists like Sons of Apollo, Marty Friedman and Tony MacAlpine. Felix is able to create his unique flurry of hammering, slapping, and groove-driven tracks that float between jazz fusion and Latin rhythms and prog-metal.
That’s the music I grew up listening to and playing, I wanted to pay tribute to that music, but I also feel that a lot of Venezuelan music can mix well with progressive metal and fusion.Felix Martin to Guitar World
Felix’s latest effort, Caracas, arrived in 2019 and you can snag that below.
Felix Martin plays a very custom set of 8-125 electric strings.
Sarah Lipstate has been building a name for herself essentially since she began playing guitar at the age of 16, slightly later than most. Today, Sarah has fully taken control of her instrument and has utilized it beyond normal playing. Through a plethora of pedals, innovative playing techniques, and original compositions, Sarah has become known for her immersive soundscapes that hit all points on the sonic palette.
When I pick up the guitar I think about how I can push the sonic boundaries of this instrument and that’s been so important. It’s what’s kept me going.Sarah Lipstate to Guitar.com
Sarah’s solo efforts go by the name Noveller and she has successfully released six studio records and has lended her talents to scoring music for film and tv. Lipstate has also caught the attention of the legendary Iggy Pop who had her open for him in 2016 on his Post Pop Depression tour. Iggy was so impressed by her playing that he invited her to collaborate on his album Free, and she also performed alongside him as a member of the group, Iggy Pop and the Free Band.
For her next trick, Sarah, aka Noveller, will release her latest solo album titled Arrow set to release in June 2020 via Ba Da Bing.
Rounding out this week’s list are indie-poppers, LANY. Formed in 2014, the trio was born out of two projects coming together when lead vocalist/pianist/guitarist Paul Jason Klein flew to Nashville to meet up with drummer Jake Goss and fellow key/synth/guitarist Les Priest. Although Goss and Priest had their own project at the time, something special happened with LANY and it became the main focus pretty quickly.
The band combines 80s radio pop and R&B groove with a modern twist to create something that seems to be striking a chord across the globe. After their debut album in 2017, the band has toured with Halsey, Ellie Goulding, and fellow Ernie Baller, John Mayer. LANY has also headlined their own tours across the world (including 2019’s 100 date world jaunt). They’ve also racked up over 1.35 million subscribers on YouTube (with tunes that have 15-30 million views) and millions of spins on Spotify and other streaming services.
We’re always getting better, and we’re always trying to improve. Every night we go out, we try to one-up ourselves. I think the songs really come to life; maybe take on a new life, live.Paul Klien to AXS
The band has released a second full-length titled album, Malibu Nights in 2018 as well as multiple EPs. On April 30th 2020, they announced that their third studio album, Mama’s Boy would arrive later this year. You can check out all of their music below.
LANY plays Paradigm Regular electric guitar strings and Super and Power Slinky electric guitar strings. They also play with an arsenal of Ernie Ball Music Man instruments including the St. Vincent, Cutlass, Axis Super Sport, and StingRay guitars.