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.
Stella Donnelly "Tricks"
Stella Donnelly's music is arresting on first listen. She might play the same sort of strummy guitar-driven tracks as fellow Australian Courtney Barnett, but the tenor of her voice is something else entirely. She takes it to a place reminiscent of the twee (and beloved) K Records style. Is woke twee a genre? It is now. Don't let the sweetness of her distinctly feminine voice distract you from hearing her message, however. These songs are about the male/female dynamic and how it's not skewed in favor of women.
Destiny Rogers "Tomboy"
What would music by an 18-year-old from Lodi, CA (best known as the "Zinfandel Capital of the World") sound like? Nothing like you expect. Destiny Rogers caught my attention as much for the message of her song as for her skateboarding skills. "My mother said marry a rich man / And I was like mama, I am that rich man," Rogers sings and hell yes is the only way to respond. She messes with gender norms, and rap/sings over a low-key production that's all the more surprising once you realize it's by The Stereotypes — the same production team who worked with Cardi B and Bruno Mars, who are not exactly known for their stripped down...anything.
There are few artists out there who I'd say defy classification — if anything, most of them just fit into multiple genres. But with OMA, a married duo from Réunion Island, there are truly so many styles and influences happening in this track that it is like a history of music lesson to pick them all apart; African instrumentation, French pop arrangements, indie pop vocals mixed with African chanting, and a touch of Bollywood performative style merge into one gorgeous track. It will be like nothing else you listen to.
Della Mae "Bourbon Hound"
Bourbon in the winter and clear booze in the summer is the rule, so Della Mae dropped this track at exactly the right time as winter abates into spring. This barn stomper of a single is soaked in Kentucky bluegrass vibes and the old school country aesthetic with some of the best harmonizing you can imagine. I love a woman with a deep voice, and it's only better when it's paired with an amazing fiddle in the band.
Vök "Erase You"
Iceland knows how to do dark songs, and Vök (a band, not a person) makes the darkest of laments out of reminiscing over a relationship gone bad scored by bedroom indie pop sounds. Everything about the song is captivating, from the brutal way the singer wishes to erase that bad partner to the static over the beats that makes everything muddy — implying she might not be the most reliable of narrators. There are two sides to every story, but the singer of Vök draws all the eyes in the room to her.