Jhené Aiko feat. Rae Sremmurd "Sativa"
Let's start here: I am a Jhené Aiko fan to the front, back, and around all the corners. I've loved her since the first EP. This track is from her album that came out in the fall, but the visuals here are what we want to take note of. To see her go beyond her earth mother of the water vibe in this video is a real trip; for it to be a Westworld-esque fantasy is beyond. It's no surprise that she'd keep a track named after her favorite strand of weed, but it is interesting to get on her flow and understand just how her head space, of wanting to get out of her head, felt through music. That is no simple feat.
Justin Timberlake feat. Chris Stapleton "Say Something"
If you had told me in 2008 that one day La Blogothèque would direct a Justin Timberlake video, I would have laughed in your face (or given you a sad eulogy with respect to the state of indie rock). Their work is a gorgeous black hole of live performances and video to fall down, if you aren't familiar. Not only is this the best track from Timberlake's forthcoming album so far, it is also all live. Which makes those vocals on the duet especially impressive. Everything about this track is not a direction I would have anticipated. Timberlake has an easy anthem here, the perfect arena song in the version this video gives us. Making it a duet is not what most artists would do. Neither is debuting it as a live performance track. It makes me curious about his album in a way the other two tracks haven't. Fine JT, I'm ready to hear more.
Kassi Ashton "California, Missouri"
Before you hit play, I am going to tell you this is country music. Sort of. Now hit play, and you're going to hear some psychedelic vibes with steel guitar under it and brutal honesty on top of it. This is not your mama's country music, it's barely even your music. It's like I never knew what the phrase brutal honesty really meant before I heard this song; there is love and there is pain all rolled into one. This must have been what Merle Haggard felt like the first time he heard the Flying Burrito Brothers play. It's not country enough for country folk, but it's going to push at their boundaries and make them better.
The Aces "Fake Nice"
Okay, let's clear the decks. There have been some heavy, bordering on mind-bending tracks in my column this week, but sometimes you just want to dance it out. The Aces deliver a track that is perfect for that. Catchy as hell, upbeat, simple pop: this little gem will get you through a traffic jam, through a walk in the park, through a study break while you dance around with your headphones on. There is truly nothing lovelier than a perfectly constructed pop song and this is damn close to being just that.
Mt. Si "911"
And let's close out this week's music picks by going back to where we started: a chill zone. Mt. Si is what some would call an indie rock supergroup and others might just call a side project of one of the dudes from Classixx. I call it music to cry to on the dance floor. Yes, fine, I like to sway while standing in place, maybe spin from time to time, and call it dancing. This track is deceptively tricky, though; there are elements in it (those wind chime sounds, the "ooh" sung like an exhale à la the sounds of Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer in so many amazing disco tracks) that would sound cheesy in less capable musical hands. It's not the groove that is saving this track, it's the brilliant minds who made it.
After my first job at MTV working as a music programmer, I can't stop trying to matchmake 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. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or leave me a comment below and tell me what you're listening to this week.
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