boygenius "Stay Down"
boygenius is an unbelievable, newly formed indie rock supergroup by Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers — three of the most revered and critically acclaimed artists of the past few years. The trio, who are touring together in November, is also dropping a full EP that month but released a three-song taste this week that is absolutely excellent. "Stay Down" was a stand out for me, but honestly you need to listen to all of them.
Eliza Shaddad "This Is My Cue"
There's something so angular about the guitars on this track, it's obviously a vibe lifted from post punk, but Shaddad's vocals are so warm and emotional that they lie in a complimentary contradiction to the coldness of the music. It reminds me of The Cure, who used swirling, dark guitar tones on the high end of the scale to enhance the sense of hopelessness in the lyrics about broken relationships. Not everyone can make a breakup sound good, but Eliza Shaddad hits all the right notes.
Daniela Spalla "Pinamar"
Spalla mixes the influence of yé-yé (French pop), Spanish-style bossa nova tunes, and indie rock in this gorgeous track about an 0ff-season love spent on the shores of Pinamar in Argentina. For all the lightheartedness of the music, the translated lyrics will break your heart once you know she's singing about revisiting a summer love that was better left for one season only.
Madison Cunningham "All At Once"
Cunningham is catching some attention in the world of country music, but honestly it's hard to classify what Cunningham is doing on this track as one genre. The sparseness of just her and that guitar, which she uses to really riff, is of the blues tradition but the way she plays it is pure classic rock. And her vocals...when she growls she's living in that blues and R&B place, but when she sings the verses she's telling a country story. There's nothing else out there that sounds like "All At Once" right now.
Mikhala Jené "Mad Bitches"
I don't believe in fixing a man, but Jené almost has me buying it with this bop. I think the takeaway is: I'm a sucker for a Raphael Saadiq-esque beat. I love the way her voice lilts all over the verses, ever climbing upward while she gets all clipped on the chorus. It's an inversion of the usual pattern on a pop song, making the verse feel like a climax. People who play with the expected structure of songs are the ones who set the trends, so keep your eyes on Jené.
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.