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.
Lana Del Rey "Looking for America"
After a week like this, you may be wondering where the songs about being anti-gun are. LDR is here to satiate your appetite with the first song off her long-awaited forthcoming album, Norman Fucking Rockwell. This quiet, folky song has a lighter touch than she usually goes for, hitting a more dreamy tone. But I'd like to see more people harkening back to a great America that isn't centered on toxic ideas. At least LDR can admit the idealised America is a dream and not wax nostaligic over something that never existed for many Americans. Instead, she dreams up the America she'd like to see. It's one I'd like to live in. If it rings true to you, don't just stream it but buy a copy. All proceeds from the song will go to the Gilroy Garlic Festival Victims Relief Fund, the Dayton Foundation, and the El Paso Community Foundation.
Sylvia Black feat. Lydia Lunch "Walking With Fire"
When I do idealise American history, I go right back to the Beat era and the birth of jazz. That is, happily, where this Sylvia Black takes me on this track with the legend, the icon Lydia Lunch. The track obviously and purposefully invokes the vibe of David Lynch, which is echoed in the trippy video. But there's so much happening here stylistically and instrumentally, it's truly a feast for the ears.
Now, for something completely smooth. Korean-American singer Audrey solidifes her place on the scene with another song that's structured like classic R&B but that has a certain power pop progression to elevate it. She manages to do things with her voice that 99% of singers can't and the groove in this song is instantly enjoyable.
Nao Yoshioka "Liberation"
What grabbed me about Japaese singer Nao Yoshioka's latest track was the ever lifting chord progression of the chorus of this song, when she sings "I'm not letting fear control / My life anymore." It's designed specifically to give a feeling of action and forward momentum to the song, while creating a positive vibe when you hear it. It's a brilliant layering trick to help a song evoke a mood that will leave you you soaring after you hear it. That old school drone in the breakdown is pretty great too.
Wallis Bird "Brutal Honesty"
Brutally honest is usually a phrase that makes me swipe left on a dating app, but I am swiping right hard on this track from Wallis Bird. The very tenor of her voice broadcasts the idea of being brutally honest as an act of extreme vulnerability, not a means to put someone down (as it's too frequently and negatively used for my taste). She reminisces on what sounds like a bad period in life, rife with actions that demand an apology. That leads her to some big aspirations and a fascinating breakdown at the song's end that feels like its all spiralling out of control. Great composition, meaty subject, heavy song.