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.
Brittany Howard "Stay High"
If you were looking for a working-class hero, put down the Bruce Springsteen cassette tapes and let's talk about Brittany Howard. The Alabama Shakes frontwoman is dropping a solo album in September and her video for "Stay High" is all about her father, who did shift work in a factory, and the tiny moments Howard remembers of him. Terry Crews plays her dad in the video shot in her hometown of Athens, AL and features cameos of her family and friends. Make no mistake: Howard is making Americana, but it's also rock music, soul music, and indie. Howard is one of those once-in-a-generation artists who bends music to her will; she can't be quantified as one thing or another. This feel-good gem will get you through any rough times and slap a smile back on your face.
The Highwomen "Redesigning Women"
This isn't a song. This isn't a supergroup. It's a motherfucking movement. Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby are the Highwomen (with some help from producer Dave Cobb and Jason Isbell co-writing some tracks). And they're here to burn down the idea that women stick out/don't fit in on country radio. The song reminds me of blistering '90s country hits like Mindy McCready's "Guys Do It All the Time" and Deana Carter's "Did I Shave My Legs For This?," and Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine." The one difference is that the Highwomen (a takeoff on the '70s country supergroup the Highway Men) are overtly feminist, inclusionist, and about equality. There's no battle of the sexes here. It's about letting women share their point of view and giving women a voice in a format that keeps shutting them down.
Hayley Kiyoko "I Wish"
Ahhhhh Hayley Kiyoko is back, and her new video has a very strong The Craft vibe. Do I have to tell you more than that to make you watch it? If so: it's about a love that's not being returned in quite the wrong way, and that "I wish, I wish, I wish" that keeps repeating is putting it on track to be the song you can't stop listening to for the rest of the summer. In a fight with your S.O.? Just finding it hard to match with someone who isn't an asshole on Bumble? Yeah, you need this song.
Sarah Jaffe "Lay Low (Take Care)"
Look, going through a breakup is hard. Going through life is sometimes hard. Sarah Jaffe, who just dropped two new EPs, nails the feeling with this pep talk masquerading as a song. The Dallas native has created an anthem for all of us who do not have our shit together. Which is me, far more often than I care to admit.