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.
Lila Iké "Where I'm Coming From"
If your summer would benefit from a touch of reggae and some Jamaica style, you need Lila Iké on your playlist. In the video, Iké strolls through the Kingston area where she grew up, giving us a taste of her life (that bedroom in the opener is actually her childhood bedroom!). It's fun to go along with her story, which she sings as well as shows. But what keeps me coming back to the track is Iké's voice: so clear and strong, so confident. Her swagger is backed up by the music, which hits the sweet spot between slow like honey and heavy with mood, to quote Fiona Apple. Your summer playlist needs this one.
Doe Paoro "Midnight Choir"
Doe Paoro's back and she comes bearing a first single that is actually a track she wrote for another artist. It didn't get used and Paoro revealed it floated back to her when she was reviewing older demos. She found it touching and wanted to and record it for herself — and one listen will make it obvious why. Her voice lilts powerfully on the chorus, with just the hint of a vocal warble as the note she hits drags out. It's a moment heavy with emotion, making the song feel powerful and personal. I'm a sucker for songs that equate love to the cosmos (truly, I have a whole playlist dedicated to the lyrical phenomenon), so her line about the stars crumbling to dust got me. It's one of those songs. Something in it will trip you up and suck you in.
I rarely say this, but THE SWAG OF THIS SONG. I love everything about it: the beat poetry style delivery, the heavy bass guitar, Isabella's deadpan voice that's nearly devoid of emotion, the moments when she does reveal emotion (that "damn"), the all-girl tea party in the video. This song is going to be my anthem for 2019, everyone else can sit down. Can't wait to hear this album. Priceless.
Electric Youth "ARAWA"
If you're in the thrall of '80s music after binging Stranger Things 3, but found the soundtrack this season a little lacking (seriously, other than Madonna and The Cars, it wasn't that great), dip your toes into the delightfully chill and '80s inspired waters of Electric Youth (yeah, that's a Debbie Gibson song/album/perfume). This is a solid summer soundtrack addition for anyone who likes Washed Out, M83, and the more synth-driven '80s vibes of the Cure or the disaffected vocals of Altered Images.
Greentea Peng "DOWNERS"
This song would be just another track without the addition of the North African-inspired guitar line, which takes it to another place. That's what made it stand out for me, from its first note. That said, Greentea Peng (real name: Aria) has such a unique voice and really knows how to deliver a line — and that's what made me stay. She's out to capture that Alice down the rabbit hole vibe of being a little too down on the downers, and her disaffected tone gives you that empty vibe while the pre-produced drums do an amazing job of keeping the track lively. It's a rare, but in this case brilliant, combination.