The best rock songs right now

April’s list includes new music from Lucy Dacus, girl in red, Blair, Junior Varsity, and more.

May 05, 2021
The best rock songs right now (L-R) Lucy Dacus, Junior Varsity, Pinkshift   Ebru Yildiz

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

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Blair, “By The C”

New Yorkers Blair channel the emotive songwriting chops of DIY songwriters like Girlpool and Alex G on “By The C,” one of three songs featured on debut EP Tears To Grow. Building to a cathartic payoff, vocalist Genesis Evans exposes how it feels to be Black in America in the simplest of terms. “Hi Mommy, I’m sorry/I’d like to speak eventually,” he sings tenderly. “Take a step back/Could have been me/Who died last week.”

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Underscores, “Spoiled Little Brat”

California-based Underscores will, undoubtedly, be described as a hyperpop-punk act, a portmanteau which taps into their youth and glitchy, excitable brand of music. “Spoiled Little Brat,” a highlight of the group’s wildly eclectic new album Fishmonger, contextualises them a little better, however, with frontman Devon Karpf stating simply: “I’m a popstar baby.”

Junior Varsity, “Cold Blood”

Junior Varsity, LA-based duo Greg Aram and Zach Michel, load their swaggering pop-punk anthems with a rap production style that makes every beat sound cavernous. Custom-built for big stages, “Cold Blood” is a fearless shot at the moon that emits enough confidence to make you think they might just make it.

Lucy Dacus, “Hot & Heavy”

Dacus casts her eye over a “firecracker” she was once involved with on a song that is typically contemplative and unusually peppy for the contemplative singer-songwriter. "Hot & Heavy" is taken from Dacus' upcoming album Home Video out on Matador Records June 25

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Wu-Lu, “Times”

Having first emerged as a producer, multi-instrumentalist, and beatmaker, south Londoner Wu-Lu (Miles Romans-Hopcraft) is currently carving a chaotic niche in much noisier territory. “Times” zooms in on Romans-Hopcraft’s coming-of-age story and back out again as he reflects on the changing-face of his gentrified city. These interconnected strands are tethered by a sense of frustration and rebellion, the song using space and distortion to create something uniquely personal and undeniably urgent.

The Blossom, “Hardcore Happy”

As one of the first artists signed to Video Store — Kevin Abstract and Romil Hemnani’s new label — The Blossom (a.k.a. Lily Lizotte) introduced themself this month with new EP 97 Blossom. “Hardcore Happy” is a bratty, confused, and alluringely grungy take on indie pop that catches Lizotte reaching out for a brighter future.

Girl in Red, “You Stupid Bitch”

Taken from girl in red’s upcoming debut, if i could make it go quiet (released on April 30), “You Stupid Bitch” is a direct and to-the-point dismissal of a friend who is using you as an emotional crutch. Driving guitars and drums match Marie Ulven’s exasperated tone as she asks, “You stupid bitch, can't you see? The perfect one for you is me.”

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Pinkshift, “Mars”

Pinkshift’s Saccharine EP is an essential addition to any self-respecting Bandcamp wishlist this month. The Baltimore band specialize in crunchy, anthemic pop-punk with “Mars” building to the operatic heights My Chemical Romance would be proud of.

Pom Pom Squad, “Head Cheerleader”

Brooklyn’s Pom Pom Squad tease the June 25 release of debut album Death of a Cheerleader with the crunchy lead single “Head Cheerleader.” Leaning into her group’s kitchscy aesthetic, Mia Berrin uses sugar-sweet melodies to tackle a discomfort that defined her past and period of self-discovery that she hopes will shape her future.

Fanclubwallet, “C’mon Be Cool”

Hannah Judge, aka Ontario’s Fanclubwallet, makes charmingly lo-fi indie rock that, despite its humble origins, worms its way into your head. “C’mon Be Cool,” set to feature on the upcoming EP Hurt Is Boring, raises a frustrated eyebrow at spending a year indoors and (gently) pours scorn on those that didn’t.

Wallice, “Hey Michael”

Though described as “a revenge anthem for anyone who has encountered a gaslighting, manipulative person,” Wallice’s “Hey Michael” is more of a light- hearted dismissal of pretentious guys. You know the sort, the ones that have their top five Tarantino movies in perfect order but don’t know when your birthday is beyond “the summer.” Send your local “Michael” scurrying back to Letterboxd with this indie-pop gem.

Al Riggs, “America’s Pencil”

Taken from new album I Got A Big Electric Fan To Keep Me Cool While I Sleep, “America’s Pencil” utilises piano and electric guitar to project confidence but remains a self-lacerating song in which Riggs takes aim at their own hubris as an artist.

Jordana, “Push Me Away”

Jordana sidesteps her typically grunge sound for a slick take on synth-pop that still packs in plenty of riffs. Written about a friendship gone awry, Magdalena Bay’s Mica Tenenbaum provides additional vocals, hinting at irreconcilable differences (“When I'm empty, then you're full”) on a different kind of break-up song.

Spread Joy, “Ba-Ba”

“Ba-Ba,” like all the songs on Chicago band’s self-titled debut EP, which dropped this month, is clean, concise, and immaculate post-punk. With hints of Suburban Lawns’ eccentricism evident in the mix, Spread Joy’s sound may be nostalgic but its effervescence is timeless.

Faye Webster, “Cheers”

Atlanta singer-songwriter Webster is perhaps best known for her tranquil and sleepy songs but “Cheers” suggests the new album I Know I'm Funny haha will be something of a sea-change. Operatic around a dirty digital chug, Webster taps into some amusing relationship neuroses (will she and her partner marry before her brothers do, will her dad like his music?) to create something pacier than we have heard from her, yet no less sardonic or romantic.

The best rock songs right now