The 15 Best Songs of October 2020

There was stiff competition for this month’s best new songs. We heard the latest single from Dirty Projectors’ 5EPs collection, the return of Kendrick Lamar, Tierra Whack and Julien Baker, an exciting new track from Black Country, New Road’s debut album and much more. Scroll down for 15 of our favorite tracks from October 2020, listed alphabetically by artist.

1. Another Michael: “New Music”

Philadelphia-based band Another Michael are recent signees to Run For Cover Records. This month, they also released their new single “New Music” and b-side “Boring For The Times.” “New Music” is a relatively quiet song, highlighting the calming, subtle yet emotive vocals of Michael Doherty. —Lexi Lane

2. Arlo Parks: “Green Eyes”

Arlo Parks shared several surprises for listeners this month, including new song “Green Eyes” and the announcement of her forthcoming debut album Collapsed In Sunbeams, out Jan. 29, 2021. “Green Eyes” stands out for Parks’ calming vocals and the light presence of a drum beat. It also features credits from another indie peer, Clairo, who plays guitar and sings backing vocals. —Lexi Lane

3. Black Country, New Road: “Science Fair”

U.K. outfit Black Country, New Road announced their debut album For the first time, out on Feb. 5, 2021, via Ninja Tune. It follows their previous singles “Athens, France” and “Sunglasses.” Earlier this year, Paste named the band one of 15 British Acts to Know in 2020. They’ve also shared a new single, “Science Fair,” with an accompanying video directed by Bart Price and inspired by small-town America. Like many BC,NR songs, the seven-piece band spend this entirety of this track building up freakish momentum via Isaac Wood’s high-strung vocals and a sea of menacing guitars, horns and strings. It’s creepy, beautiful and madly unpredictable. —Lizzie Manno

4. Busta Rhymes: “Look Over Your Shoulder (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”

Busta Rhymes dropped a new track, “Look Over Your Shoulder,” featuring Kendrick Lamar in its first verse—his 2020 debut. The song, which samples The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There,” is taken from Busta Rhymes’ 10th studio album Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God, out now. Extinction Level Event 2 serves as a sequel to his 1988 album E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front. —Paris Rosenthal

5. Denzel Curry: “Live From the Abyss”

Denzel Curry dropped a new political track, “Live From The Abyss,” via Loma Vista. In this protest song, Curry fervently addresses the current sociopolitical climate. Curry kept “Live From The Abyss” as a Bandcamp exclusive for one week, with all proceeds through the end of October going directly to Dream Defenders. —Paris Rosenthal

6. Dirty Projectors: “Searching Spirit”

Dirty Projectors shared “Searching Spirit,” the first single from their forthcoming fifth (and final) EP of this year, Ring Road. All their 2020 EPs will be released as a 20-song anthology titled 5EPs, out on Nov. 20 via Domino Records. “Searching Spirit” brings all the intriguing parts of Dirty Projectors back together. The song builds momentum from the subtle harmonies before its abrupt ending. —Lexi Lane

7. Jordana: “I Guess This is Life”

Jordana announced a new album titled Something to Say to You, out digitally on Dec. 4 and physically on Jan. 22, 2021, via Grand Jury Music. The album combines her Something to Say EP (which Paste named one of the best of the year so far) with the recently announced …To You EP for one full-length LP. Jordana also shared a new single, “I Guess This Is Life,” alongside an accompanying video. “‘I Guess This Is Life’ is a song about the motions of everyday life and how experiences, no matter big or small, make up the person that you are and how you both perceive and are perceived by the world,” Jordana says of the new single. —Lizzie Manno

8. Julien Baker: “Faith Healer”

Julien Baker announced her third studio album Little Oblivions, which will arrive on Feb. 26, 2021, via Matador Records. In conjunction with the announcement, Baker revealed the album’s lead track “Faith Healer” alongside its music video. “Put most simply, I think that ‘Faith Healer’ is a song about vices, both the obvious and the more insidious ways that they show up in the human experience,” Baker says. —Paris Rosenthal

9. Junglepussy: “Main Attraction”

New York rapper Junglepussy recently released her album Jp4. Serving as a follow-up to her 2018 release, Jp3, the record arrived on Oct. 23 via Friends of/Jagjaguwar. Jp4 features contributions from vocalist Ian Isiah, rapper Gangsta Boo, and producers Dave Sitek and Nick Hook. —Paris Rosenthal

10. Milly: “Star Thistle Blossom”

L.A. outfit Milly shared a new single “Star Thistle Blossom,” which follows their 2019 debut EP and cassette Our First Four Songs. This new single is the first taste of their forthcoming EP Wish Goes On, scheduled for release next year. “Star Thistle Blossom” is the most straightforward rock song they’ve released so far, as their previous tracks skewed more lo-fi. But their delectable wash of grunge-tinted shoegaze guitars remains. “Hope knows that I’ve lost it all alone / I hope that you know that this will not be long / When Autumn’s sun comes crashing down / I’ll be here waiting on,” frontman Brendan Dyer yearns over thick guitar distortion. —Lizzie Manno

11. Nilüfer Yanya: “Crash”

London-based artist Nilüfer Yanya announced a new EP Feeling Lucky?, out on Dec. 11 via ATO Records. This EP follows her 2019 debut album Miss Universe, which resulted in a spot on our Best New Artists list. This month, she unveiled the first single/video, “Crash.” The song, which was co-written and produced by her labelmate Nick Hakim, features bold, garbled guitars and her stylish, layered vocals. —Lizzie Manno

12. Open Mike Eagle: “Death Parade”

Open Mike Eagle shared “Death Parade,” the opening song from his album Anime, Trauma and Divorce, out now via AutoReverse Records. “This song is about the cycle of trauma,” OME shared. “The personal trauma that’s been a throughline in my life and how traumatized people tend to inflict more trauma on themselves and others.” —Lexi Lane

13. Tierra Whack: “Dora”

Tierra Whack has shared a new single, “Dora,” marking her first original track this year. The song arrived with an accompanying music video directed by conceptual artist Alex Da Corte. After the release of her debut album Whack World in 2018, Whack dropped several singles the following year: “Only Child,” “Wasteland,” “Unemployed” and more. —Paris Rosenthal

14. Told Slant: “Whirlpool”

Told Slant, the solo project of Brooklyn songwriter Felix Walworth, is releasing a new album, Point the Flashlight and Walk, out on Nov. 13 via Double Double Whammy. Following previous singles “Family Still,” “No Backpack” and “Run Around the School,” Walworth shared “Whirlpool” this month. It’s a bare track centered on acoustic guitar rhythms and the precious, yet often tragic idea of what it is to really know a person. —Lizzie Manno

15. The Weather Station: “Robber”

The Weather Station signed to Fat Possum, and returned to share a brand new song and music video for “Robber.” Singer Tamara Lindeman’s first new release since her 2017 self-titled album, the song is a slow build, but Lindeman’s somber voice and the shifting jazz instrumentals make it an essential listen. The song’s video was directed by Lindeman and shot by Jared Raab, combining interpretative dance and mirrored clothing to serve the song’s themes. —Lexi Lane