Ever since my first job at MTV working as a music programmer, I can't stop trying to match people with music they might like. So, I wrote a book called Record Collecting for Girls and started interviewing musicians. The Music Concierge is a column where I share music I'm listening to that you might enjoy, with a little context. Get everything I've recommended this year on Spotify, follow me on Twitter or Facebook, and leave a comment below telling me what you're listening to this week.
Ari Lennox & J. Cole "Shea Butter Baby"
Ari Lennox gets a boost from her boss, Dreamville Records head J. Cole, on this single (although last year's "Whipped Cream" proved she doesn't really need any assistance). This is an interesting track; it strikes me as very Dreamville, with its Spanish guitar and a blended beat that's somehow part old school/nostalgic and part darker, sparser new school sound. Lennox's voice fits right in, creating something that sounds like her, and only her.
Aldous Harding "The Barrel"
There's a no fucks given vibe to Aldous Harding that reminds me of watching Grey Gardens. One starts by wondering who this magical creature is and what kind of journey this is going to be. That curiosity never abates — Harding is "can't take my eyes off of you" charismatic and a singular artist, even in the terribly uninteresting format of a music video. Whatever this ride is, I'd like to see where it goes.
Thayer Sarrano "Grace Goes On"
Meet the woman with the most world-weary voice in music: Thayer Sarrano. She's most assuredly creating the soundtrack to whatever becomes the next The Craft or Natural Born Killers — a little bit industrial grime, a little bit shoegaze, a little bit dark as fuck. I've always been a sucker for those Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star and Karen Elson vocals.
Jade Novah "Cosmic Love"
True fact: I have a Spotify playlist dedicated to love songs that use outer space as a metaphor or to describe a relationship. It's called Cosmic Love Songs and it was the first thing I thought of when Jade Novah's single hit my inbox. Novah is on some kind of out of this world tip with her song. This is my love language — thank you for making me feel seen.
Rina Mushonga "Narcisc0"
The opening guitar riff on this track immediately made me think of Love's "Alone Again Or," but Rina Mushonga's vocals and rhythm guitar take it to a different, more African place (which makes sense, given that she's a Dutch-Zimbabwean artist). Her album just came out last week and this made me eager for more. Not only is the music utterly captivating, but Mushonga's message is one that's particularly timely.