The 20 best rock songs right now

August’s list includes songs from Big Joanie, Phoenix, Duma, and more.

August 28, 2020
The 20 best rock songs right now (L-R) The Japanese House, Duma, Arlo Parks   Arlen Dilsizian/Alexandra Waespi

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

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Big Joanie x Solange, “Cranes in the Sky”

Recorded as part of a release on Jack White’s Third Man Records label, London DIY band Big Joanie take on a Solange favorite. The three-piece transform the dreamy original, introducing a chugging guitar riff and sense of foreboding to underline the sadness at the root of the song.

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Phoenix, “Identical”

Phoenix returns with a song taken from Sofia Coppola’s new movie, <>On The Rocks. The French band aren’t exactly changing things up here (as much as the burning jacket in the accompanying video might hint at a reinvention) but Thomas Mars and co. make this casually energetic synth-rock sound effortless.

The Japanese House, “Dionne” feat. Justin Vernon

Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon joins Amber Bain on her reflective new single. "I've been thinking about my storyline and how your past becomes your present if it's always on your mind," she sings over a gently distorted electronic folk backdrop.

Duma, “Pembe 666”

Kenyan noise band Duma’s self-titled debut dropped this month and is easily one of 2020’s heaviest releases. The wildly experimental duo offer a window into their dystopian sound on “Pembe 666,” a reading of Revelation 5:6 in Kiswahili set to jackhammer drums and ethereal synth washes.

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Arlo Parks, “Hurt”

Arlo Parks’ ability to conjure vivid images shows no sign of slowing down any time soon (“Charlie melts into his mattress/Watching Twin Peaks on his ones” is a particular favorite). Here she adds a shifting groove to proceedings to great effect.

Deftones, “Ohms”

Deftones are back and doing what they do best: pummeling the depths of their deeply melancholic brand of metal. “Ohms” is the title track of the band’s upcoming ninth studio album, due September 25.

Orville Peck and Shania Twain, “Legends Never Die”

Orville Peck is looking camp right in the eye.

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Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, “Ancestral Recall”

An unexpected but complimentary collaboration between Louisville singer-songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle and the emotionally intense metal band Thou. The juxtaposition of Rundle’s long distance melodies and Bryan Funck of Thou dredging up his guts to scream into the sky shows two sides working together to create something surprising and new.

Pillow Queens, “Holy Show”

Dublin-based Pillow Queens will release their debut album In Waiting on September 25. Ahead of that date we get “Holy Show,” a widescreen ode to regretting every stupid thing you’ve ever said. “If you remember a thing about it” Pamela Connely sings. “Tell me that it's not bad/Why'd I even say that?” Listen to this one when you’re trying to sleep and those thoughts come rushing through your mind.

Father John Misty, “To R.”

One of two new songs FJM shared as part of Sub Pop’s Singles Club, “To R.” is Misty in full nostalgic troubadour mode. “Without the blues you're tethered to I'm sure you'd float away” he sings over gentle guitar strums and flamboyant orchestration.

Tomberlin, “Wasted”

Taken from upcoming EP Projections (due October 16), Tomberlin’s hypnotic, Alex G co-produced new song showcases her growing abilities as a writer and comes with an airy video directed by Instagram fave Busy Philipps.

TRAAMS, “The Greyhound”

British indie trio TRAAMS have been away for five years and so you know they had to have something exciting to bring them back. “The Greyhound” is nearly 10 minutes of krautrock-chugging designed to hypnotise. Welcome back!

Idles, “Model Village”

If you want a gauge on IDLES’ ever-rising stock then consider that they just dropped a video directed by Michel Gondry. Alongside his brother Olivier, the Gondrys paints a cutesy utopia for Joe Talbot’s observations of “nine-fingered boys” and expensive drugs running the rule over a small town.

Sweeping Promises, “Hunger For A Way Out”

The title track of Boston post-punk band Sweeping Promises jerks and jangles in all the right places but it’s Lira Mondal’s capital H howl that really sets this one off.

TV Priest, “This Island”

Vocalist Charlie Drinkwater scrolls endlessly as his country fades into irrelevance on British band TV Priest’s latest fiery missive. TV Priest’s debut album Uppers drops in November.

Future Islands, "Thrill"

Future Islands return in placid form ahead of new album As Long As You Are, due October 9. “Thrill” is a moment of desolation for a band more often associated with chest-pumping sincerity. Is everything OK, Samuel T. Herring?

Ethan P Flynn, “Are You Doing This To Hurt Me?”

London-based odd pop auteur Ethan P Flynn takes a seat at the movie theater for his surreal new video. “Are You Doing This To Hurt Me?” has enough cinematic ambition to rival anything Hollywood can offer.

Wicketkeeper, “The Side”

Wicketkeeper are here to remind you of the glory days when three guys with little more than a copy of Hüsker Dü’s back catalog and some time off from their shifts working in a vintage store could soundtrack your summer.

Power Trip, "Firing Squad"

Riley Gale will be sorely missed by the heavy music community. This song, taken from Power Trip's Nightmare Logic, is both a great celebration of, and introduction to, the band's relentlessly energetic sound and huge crossover potential. RIP.

The 20 best rock songs right now