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.
Lucy Dacus "My Mother & I"
Mother's Day is coming up, and Lucy Dacus wrote an absolutely marvellous song exploring our issues with moms, bodies, astrology, and self-esteem. It's understated musically, as Dacus usually is, but damn do the lyrics pack a wallop. That's not songwriting — it's poetry and an astute point of view at that.
I became entranced by this Bishat track at the end of the first chorus. The production is truly striking, with those drawn out beats that spike up that are paired with warm, organic orchestral instrumentation. But her vocals, even filtered through a production tool, are gripping for their desperation and emotion. To punch through the vocal effects in the way she can is rare! You're hearing a serious talent emerge here, add her to your playlist now.
Arlo Day “Bad Timing”
I love a grungy guitar line and Arlo Day delivers. This track could be ripped straight from 120 Minutes in the mid-'90s . Her dead-eyed delivery, seeped in resignation, only elevates the dourness of the track and makes me revel in its sadness. The simplicity of going up and down the chords on the guitar here is incredibly effective to give the song a specific mood, that feeling of doing the same thing over and over that echoes the mistakes detailed in the lyrics. What a find.
Johari Noelle "Show Me"
Maybe it's trite, but the thing that drew me in on this track is that it sounds like you're listening to it on a record player. There's a certain hiss on it that makes this feel vintage, soulful, and warm that really draws me in. Johari Noelle has an excellent voice, and the vocal layering effect on the chorus is delightful as is her talk/singing delivery, but it's the groove that I fell into.
Courtney Hartman "Hollow"
If you hear a hint of Spanish guitar in Courtney Hartman's gorgeous track, it may have been influenced by her 500-mile walk on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. She sought inspiration in the wilds of the pilgrimage route, searching for silence so she could listen. There's something about her vocal performance here that reflects that idea — it's her voice alone, no harmonies or guide vocals, creating a haunting sound. This is a track (or pilgrimage) to get lost in.