The 20 best rock songs right now

July’s list includes songs from Angel Olsen, Touché Amoré, 100 gecs, and more.

July 31, 2020
The 20 best rock songs right now Kylie Coutts/Cal Elizabeth Birchall/Callum Harrison

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

Angel Olsen, “Whole New Mess”

After the bombast of last year’s All Mirrors, Angel Olsen returns to a more threadbare folk sound with devastating effects. “Whole New Mess” is a gut-punch and warm embrace at the same time.

Sufjan Stevens, "America"

Sufjan Stevens and Angel Olsen releasing new albums in the same year is going to fuck a lot of people all the way up.

illuminati hotties, "will i get cancelled if i write a song called, "if you were a man you'd be so cancelled"”

“Let’s smash to a podcast,” might just be the funniest opening line of 2020.

Touché Amoré, “Limelight”

Touché Amoré has teamed up with Slipknot / At The Drive-In producer Ross Robinson for its new album Lament, due in October. Working with an A-list producer tends to signal a shift in priorities and “Limelight,” the first song from the album, suggests Touché are about to hit us with their most anthemic work to date.

Bartees Strange, “Mustang”

Bartees Strange pricked up a few ears this year when he covered a bunch of songs by The National. However, his own material hits way harder as “Mustang” goes to prove. A TV On The Radio comparison feels trite but there’s an undeniable bite to Strange’s voice that would fit in perfectly on that band’s seminal Return To Cookie Mountain.

Gulch, “Lie, Deny, Sanctify”

San Jose hardcore band Gulch go hard on new album Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress, which packs a lifetime of aggression and frustration into 15 electrifying minutes. “Lie, Deny, Sanctify” will give you a sense of the vibe but honestly, check out the whole thing ASAP.

ML Buch, “I’m A Girl You Can Hold IRL”

Written pre-lockdown yet perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the past few months, this lust-fueled cut from ML Buch’s essential new album takes a yearning for human contact and makes it tangible.

Katie Dey, “darkness”

Also working out ideas of connecting while living an extremely online life is Katie Dey. Her new album mydata is her best thus far and is filled with longing amid a relationship buffering from separate parts of the world.

Vein.FM, “20 Seconds: 20 Hours”

Vein, the Boston hardcore band who exploded into life a few years back, have renamed themselves Vein.FM and given fans a raft of new music… kinda. This month they dropped Old Data In A New Machine, Vol. 1 featuring a clutch of demos and new versions of old songs. From the latter comes “20 Seconds: 20 Hours,” a dreamy, muscular ripper reminiscent of Deftones and offering an appetizing taste of what’s to come from the band going forwards.

100 Gecs x Fall Out Boy, “Hand Crushed By A Mallett (Remix)”

Gecs offer up the best kind of fan service by gifting their lapsed emo kids with brain worms audience this absolutely perfect remix/collaboration.

Skullcrusher, “Trace”

Really beautiful stuff from Helen Ballentine with an oh-so prescient opener: “Wasting another day/ Trying to ignore my face.”

Sinead O’Brien, “Strangers In Danger”

When Sinead O’Brien talks this poetically, you have no choice but to listen.

Knot, “The World”

Earlier this month, the Boston indie band fka Krill announced they were reforming to release a new album under a new name, Knot. That album is due at the end of August and “The World” shows the band’s wonky passion remains untouched. This song taps into the feeling of wanting to change the world and the enormity of what that means.

Ethan P. Flynn, "Everyone's Dying To Meet You"

Newly signed to Young Turks (The xx, FKA Twigs), London’s Ethan P. Flynn brings off-kilter melodies and Beta Band-esque production to his debut single. One to keep an eye on.

beabadoobee, "Care"

Beabadoobee’s ‘90s revival thing may one day become an albatross around her neck but right now the melodies are sweet and the fuzz is oh so comforting.

Andy Shauf, “Judy”

Andy Shauf’s narrative tales unspool like episodes of a Netflix anthology series you binge in a weekend and then argue over which one was best. This one, about a couple’s tradition of playing the lottery together, is full of heart and the small details (“She’d pick the numbers, I’d pick it up”) many would cut but make his music so heartfelt.

Year of the Knife, “Premonitions of You”

Year of the Knife are not making a time in which mosh pits are illegal any easier. This is brutal.

bdrmm, “Gush”

U.K. shoegazers bdrmm just dropped their debut album Bedroom and it is packed with luscious and dreamy guitar tones that combine with Ryan Smith’s vocals to create a vortex you’d happily fall into.

Metz, “A Boat To Drown In”

Metz have a great knack of writing songs that sound like they’re playing as you catch the last ride out of a town that brought you nothing but strife. “A Boat To Drown In” spins its wheels in typically celebratory fashion, that lingering sense of trepidation about the road that lies ahead laced through every riff and battered hi-hat.

Protomartyr, “June 21”

Protomartyr have never released a bad album and new effort Ultimate Success Today is another smash hit.

The 20 best rock songs right now