The 20 best rock songs right now

This month’s list includes new music from boygenius, Jesus Piece, Parannoul, Wednesday, and more.

January 31, 2023
The 20 best rock songs right now (L-R) boygenius, Jesus Piece, Thus Love   Harrison Whitford/Kayla Menze/Ebru Yildiz

Every month The FADER brings you the best indie, rock, and hardcore songs in the world (in no particular order).

Fireworks, “I Want To Start A Religion With You”

Fireworks’ excellent new album Higher Lonely Power sounds a bit like Conor Oberst fronting Arcade Fire when they were good. Think big, atmospheric festival-sized songs with an anxious bittersweet center. “Just for once make some time for me. Jesus died at 33,” is an early contender for lyric of the year.

Juicebox, “Scar”

Houston hardcore band Juicebox introduce themselves with a rip-roaring demo tape. Part of the band’s origin story is the drummer tweeting that she wanted to “make hoe-scaring music" and was invited to jam. Don’t be scared though, Juicebox rules.

boygenius, “True Blue”

Of the three songs boygenius put out to announce their new album The Record, out March 31, it is the Lucy Dacus-led “True Blue” that shines the brightest. She paints a picture of domesticity here with all the highs (“I remember who I am when I’m with you”) and lows (“You already hurt my feelings three times”) utilizing a simplicity that keeps a scalpel-like sharpness.

Parannoul, “We Shine At Night”

There isn’t a huge amount of information about Parannoul online but the Seoul-based musician has been creating some of the most singular sounding indie rock of the past few years. Following on from 2021 breakout album To See The Next Part Of The Dream is new project After The Magic, which dropped this month. “We Shine At Night” retains the Parannoul signature blend of emo intimacy and skyscraping noise rock dynamics but brings in something a little looser and familial along the way, too. After building a head of steam in its first half, “We Shine At Night” melts away into a sweeping collection of strings and a buoyant chorus passed between different voices that bleed in and out of the mix.

Wednesday, “Chosen To Deserve”

Wednesday’s challenge, should they choose to accept is, is to end 2023 being more famous than A) the Netflix show and B) the day of the week they share a name with. “Chosen To Deserve,” and upcoming album Rat Saw God, are a good start.

Crushed, “coil”

LA duo Crushed’s second single (after last year’s excellent “waterlily”) is a hypnotically pretty song in which Bre Morell and Shaun Durkan push past nostalgic feelings for old relationships in order to move forwards in life. While rejecting the past in one regard, Crushed embrace it elsewhere with “coil” blending ‘80s touchstones like shoegaze and dream-pop into a glistening pop song.

Shirley Hurt, “Empty Hands”

Though it was released in December last year, Shirley Hurt is making it into this month’s list as hers is the album i have listened to the most so far this year. “Empty Hands” is Hurt at her finest; confessional, wounded, intimate, and delicately melodic. Fans of Aldous Harding and Cate Le Bon need to hear her album.

Vagabon, “Carpenter”

Vagabon’s Laetitia Tamko worked with Rostam Batmanglij on “Carpenter,” her first new single in a few years, and his clean, bouncy sound leaves a wide open space for her crystal-clear voice to thrive. “Carpenter” sounds like the first page in a new diary: crisp and full of potential.

Love Spells, “Come over and Love Me”

Love Spells has spent the past few years turning heartbreak into small moments of melancholy indie rock and “Come Over And Love Me” feels like a breakthrough. The melody is rich and built to dig deep inside your brain but the tender vulnerability remains a constant in their songwriting. It’s a winning combination.

One Step Closer, “Turn To Me”

One Step Closer is one of those hardcore bands people love to argue about in terms of their scene credentials but the Wilkes-Barre group continue to render the discourse irrelevant when they pump out widescreen moments of raw beauty like “Turn To Me.” Check out their new EP Songs for the Willow, out now via Run For Cover Records.

Dazy & Militarie Gun, “Pressure Cooker (Remix)” feat. Mannequin Pussy

More bands should do remixes to their best songs so shout out Dazy and Militarie Gun, who have just done that. This new version of last year’s “Pressure Cooker” features Missy Dabice of Mannequin Pussy lending her voice to the bouncy, Madchester-via-California punk song that I’ve had stuck on repeat this month.

Jesus Piece, “Gates of Horn”

The video for Philly hardcore band Jesus Piece’s “Gates of Horn” notes that “any pieces used in this video that show resemblance to weapons are merely props.” There is no warning, however, about the mass destruction a song this heavy may be capable of. Consider this advance notice.

Daughter, “Be On Your Way”

Daughter announced details of their first album in seven years this month. “Be On Your Way” is the first taste of Stereo Mind Game, due April 7, and finds Elena Tonra singing about a long-distance relationship with a sense of doom that matches the string-laden backdrop.

Thus Love, “Put On Dog”

One of the best things about the end of year list season is catching up on all the things that passed you by in any given year. I came across post-punk band Thus Love when their 2022 album Memorial was featured in a couple of round ups and was instantly taken by their spiky ‘80s sound. The Vermont trio have begun this year with brand new material. “Put On Dog” is urgent and demanding of attention; the perfect introduction to Thus Love’s abrasive brand of indie-pop.

Blondshell, “Joiner”

Blondshell’s debut album, due April 7, is sitting on top of a list of albums I am most excited for in 2023. “Joiner” is one of those songs that sounds so pretty from the outside a looks at the lyrics, which appears to be about a toxic relationship involving drugs and someone living their life like an HBO drama, knocks you off your feet.

Ulrika Spacek, “The Sheer Drop”

London-based Ulrika Spacek last released an album in 2017 and return here in fine form. “The Sheer Drop," taken from the upcoming Compact Trauma, out March 10 via Tough Love, is full of interlocking guitars, stabs of noise, and vocalist Rhys Edwards’s melancholy sigh.

Royel Otis, “I Wanna Dance With You”

Australian duo Royel Otis are here to remind us that love is sometimes as simple as telling someone you want to dance with them. Could life ever be this straight forward? They sure make it sound like an easier place on this giddy, charming indie pop hit.

Zulu, “Where I’m From”

The “Where I’m From” video is an homage to A Tribe Called Quest’s 1992 “Scenario” video. It’s also proof that between here and dates with Emily Ratajkowski, Eric Andre really does show up in the most random spots.

Tanukichan, “Thin Air”

Tanukichan (a.k.a. Hannah van Loon) joins forces with Aramis Johnson of Enumclaw for a typically grungy, deceptively bleak break-up song. “Thin Air” is written from the bottom of the barrel, as Van Loon tries to conjure the energy to start over after a break-up. Both she and Johnson try to rally one another’s spirits but “Thin Air” does admirably little to disguise how impossible it can all feel.

End It, “Familia Fanito”

If you want to listen to more hardcore in 2023 and don’t know where to start then Flatspot Records is a great place to start. The label just dropped its latest compilation, The Extermination Volume IV, with tracks from previous Rock Songs faves Buggin, JIVEBOMB, and Speed all featuring. Baltimore’s End It’s “Familia Fanito” is another highlight, putting energy to the forefront and sprinting through this catchy new song.

The 20 best rock songs right now