Alternative music takes over, Hippo Campus tops the charts


Music Directors

“KCSU’s Top 10 Songs Spinning This Week” is written by the KCSU music directors and describes the top artists that your local 90.5 FM DJs are playing this week! This article is updated weekly on Sundays and discussed on their show, “KCSU Weekly Gem Countdown,” which airs every Monday from 12-1 p.m. During the show, you can learn more about each musician or band before tuning in to the top 10 countdowns on Mondays, in which the music directors present to you the latest songs topping the charts and breaking down each song’s sound and feel.”

* = Brand new to the charts this week!

Alternative music made a big move this week on the charts!

1. *Hippo Campus — Alt/Indie — (9 spins of “Scorpio” off of their 2022 album, “LP3”)

Hippo Campus formed in 2013, with members that include Jake Luppen, Nathan Stocker, DeCarlo Jackson, Zach Sutton and Whistler Allen. Originally from Minnesota, the indie-rock band emerged to the scene with its EP “Bashful Creatures.” According to its Spotify, “although the five-piece has been friends since middle school and put out a number of studio releases since its inception, it’s the new record, “LP3,” that’s the most honest portrait of who Hippo Campus is.”

“LP3” was released on February 4, 2022, and has already gained much attention to the project. “As their profile grew, they found themselves compromising on their visions, thinking about how fans would interact with their music and plagued by an unsustainable industry ecosystem. Now they just wanted unity,” they explained on their Spotify. “LP3” is a fresh and cohesive piece of work, showing the audience what Hippo Campus is capable of.

2. Homeshake — Alt/Indie — (8 spins of “Half Asleep After the Movies” from his 2021 album, “Under the Weather”)

Homeshake is the stage name for the alternative artists Peter Sagar. According to his Bandcamp, Sagar “was staying at home a lot, long before the pandemic.”

Sagar wrote the majority of his fifth studio album, “Under the Weather,” in 2019 when he was “going through a long, unrelenting period of sadness.” Sagar explains, “I was in a deep, deep depression. Tours were breaking me. It was awful. It was a bit of a dark pit. That’s kind of what the album is about.”

Because the album was released two years later in 2021, Sagar thinks that most people will think he wrote about being alone during the pandemic, but really he wrote about feeling isolated his whole life.

3. *Lala Lala — Alt/Indie — (7 spins of “DIVER” from her 2021 album, “I Want The Door to Open”)

Lala Lala, stage name for Lillie West, was born in London and quickly relocated to Chicago to join the underground music scene. Pitchfork explains that West, “makes music of striking intimacy and honesty.”

Her latest release, “I Want the Door to Open,” was her third album. In this album, West “capture(s) an impossible feeling in her music: being so present in the moment that time doesn’t exist,” explains Pitchfork.  West proves to the industry that her groovy tracks are authentic and personal, gaining a dedicated fan base along the way.

4.*Mitski — Alt/Indie — (6 spins of “The Only Heartbreaker” from her 2022 album, “Laurel Hell”)

Mitski, short for Mitski Miyawaki, is an indie rock singer and songwriter who was born in Japan and moved around to several countries before she finally settled in New York for college. NPR describes Mitski’s writing to be “confessional and funny, boastful and self-deprecating, poetic and profane all at once.”

Her first project, “Bury Me at Makeout Creek,” was released in 2014, and this was actually the first time Mitski picked up a guitar! However, on her latest release, “Laurel Hell,” Mitski, “opted for sleeker surfaces reminiscent of ’80s pop,” according to AllMusic.

In a statement for RollingStone, Mitski explained that “The Only Heartbreaker” is about, “the person always messing up in the relationship, the designated Bad Guy who gets the blame. It could simply be about that, but I also wanted to depict something sadder beneath the surface, that maybe the reason you’re always the one making mistakes is because you’re the only one trying.”

5. *Mitski — Alt/Indie — (6 spins of “Valentine, Texas” from her 2022 album, “Laurel Hell”)

Mitski is on our charts twice! According to Genius, “the opening song of Mitski’s ‘Laurel Hell’ — ‘Valentine, Texas’ — is actually a real small town in Texas. The town’s name comes from it being founded on Valentine’s Day in 1882.” (It’s also home to that cool Prada store in the middle of nowhere!)

In an interview with Pitchfork, Mitski explained the inspiration for the song came “a long time ago, in a vast expanse of America, I was in a motel room. I had closed up the curtains, made it really dark mood for myself, and just wrote the first verse. And then the second verse I wrote basically in the car ride over to a show in Marfa, Texas, because on the way to Marfa, there’s a town called Valentine, and it’s just a desert. It’s just like the most deserted desert you’ve ever seen. And I saw my first dust devils, and the clouds and everything were just so beautiful, and that’s where the second verse comes from.”

6. *Acid Dad — Alt/Indie — (5 spins of “Smile You’re On Camera” from their 2021 album, “Take it From the Dead”)

Acid Dad is an American alternative-rock band composed of Vaughn Hunt, Sean Fahey and Trevor Mustoe. According to their Spotify, “during 2020, the band spent their time building a new studio space in Queens, New York, while continuing to independently produce all their own music, art and even building their own guitars.”

In contrast to their previous work, Acid Dad had slower tempos and had songs that are both intricate and more hypnotic on their latest release, “Take It From The Dead.” Levitation explains that this album “features an array of different influences ranging from ’90s neo-psych, modern post-punk and ’70s rock-n-roll.”

7. Amber Smoke — Hip Hop/Rap — (5 spins of “Money Orders” from her 2020 single release, “Money Orders”)

Amber Smoke is back on the charts! According to her Spotify, Smoke is a “rising international superstar.” Originally from Houston, she also raps, sings, writes music and acts.

Her music covers “many relatable issues head-on, like social injustice, difficulties finding love … and navigating being a young strong woman in the industry willing to pave her own way without compromising her beliefs,” according to her Spotify.

This upbeat, true hip-hop tune allows Smoke to claim her place as a strong woman in the music industry.

8. *Andy Shauf — Alt/Indie  — (4 spins of “Spanish On The Beach” from their 2021 album, “Wilds”)

Andy Shauf is a Canadian musician who first set foot in the industry in 2016 with his release of “The Party.” In 2021, Shauf released another project called, “The Neon Skyline,” and according to his website, his 2022 album, “Wilds,” is “a collection of nine songs culled from around fifty tracks recorded by the prolific Shauf during the writing of ‘The Neon Skyline’ and presented in a near-unfiltered form, the unstudied rawness of the songs on ‘Wilds” is a revealing look at Sahuf’s mindset during the time he was writing ‘Skyline.'”

Shauf also explains on his website that, “though it’s not necessary to be familiar with ‘The Neon Skyline” to ‘get’ ‘Wilds,” this new collection certainly can be interpreted as a companion piece to that record.”

9. *Babehoven — Alt/Indie — (4 spins of “Fugazi” from her 2022 single release, “Fugazi”)

Babehoven, stage name for Maya Bon, was created in Portland, Oregon, in 2017. According to her website, “Bon has shown herself to be a gifted heart-on-sleeve songwriter, using music to peel back the layers of her own experiences — sometimes sad, sometimes surreal, always vividly rendered — to reveal universal emotional truths hidden in the most intimately personal of details.”

The bedroom pop artists’ newest Ep, “Sunk” comes out March 4, with “Fugazi” being the first single from the EP. On “Sunk,” Bon states that she “seeks to answer a seemingly simple yet ultimately life changing question: what would happen if, rather than constantly fighting against the immovable tides of unfixable things — broken relationships, a fractured society, a future that erodes daily in the face of climate change — she gave herself permission to stop struggling altogether.”

10. Bad Bad Hats — Alt/Indie — (4 spins of “Only Static” from their 2021 album, “Walkman”)

Bad Bad Hats is an alternative band from Minneapolis, Minnesota, that consists of Kerry Alexander, Con Davison and Chris Hoge. The band states on its website that its music is “rooted in classic pop songwriting with elements of nineties rock influence and an overall lightheartedness.”

In an interview with Stereo Gum, Alexander explains that they “love music’s special power to transport us to certain places and times in our lives. ‘Walkman’ is inspired by that. It’s about having a feeling so strong for someone that whenever you’re falling in love, it brings you back to being with that person.”

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