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Dreamy, chilled-out charts this week with Beach House and Kelela

KCSU appreciates a chiller vibe with music from Beach House, Matt Maltese, Blair Gun, and Kelela topping the charts this week.

“KCSU’s Weekly Gems Countdown” 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 posted weekly on Wednesday morning and discussed on the show “KCSU Weekly Gem Countdown” which airs every Wednesday from 1-2. During the show, you can tune in to hear the countdown, learn more about each artist behind the songs topping KCSU’s charts, and listen to DJ Fruit-Bat and Lady J break down the sound and feel of each song!


10. Pile – rock – (4 total spins, highlighted hit: “Lowered Rainbow” off the February 2023 record “All Fiction”)

Pile are a rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, formed in its earliest iteration in the solo work of vocalist Rick Maguire, who formed the project into a collective in 2010. Known for Maguire’s growly vocals and their occasional lapses into a more psych-rock sound, the band have a cult following and a cemented space in the American indie rock scene.

Their “All Fiction” Album came out in February of 2023, described on their Spotify profile as an “ornate, carefully paced study on the subjectivity of perception, the data-shaping despotism of big tech, and the connection between anxiety and death.” Our highlighted track, “Lowered Rainbow,” has a slower, more soulful vibe, an effective departure from the grungier approach Pile usually take.





9. Kali Uchis – r&b – (5 total spins, highlighted hit: “Fantasy (ft. Don Toliver)” off the March 2023 release “Red Moon in Venus”)

Kali Uchis is known for her constant creative expression; not only through her music, but also through her directing, acting, and designing. She grew up between Colombia South America and Northern VA, and her unique upbringing gifted her with a love of jazz and r&b. She’s taken that love of music and built a career as one of the most well-known r&b/pop artists in contemporary music, known for her buttery vocals, innovative collaborations, and Latin influences.

“Red Moon in Venus” was released in March to praise from critics, including an 8.2 from Pitchfork Magazine, who called the record a “lush and captivating” summoning of “the cosmic power of love and the divine feminine.” The record takes its dreamy, sensual sound from the influence of Venus, swathing every line in a floaty, romantic shroud. Our highlighted track, “Fantasy (ft. Don Toliver)” is a love song written and performed with her partner, Don Toliver, and you can hear that connection through the song and its playful, “let’s go home, baby,” ending.




8. Yves Tumor – electronic – (6 total spins, highlighted hit: “Meteora Blues” off of the March 2023 release “Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or, Simply, Hot Between Worlds)”)

Yves Tumor (it/its) is one of the most exciting artists making music out there, garnering a cult status that’s rapidly becoming one of the most central positions in the world of experimental pop music. Defying categorization in every way, it can be difficult to find words for the shifting coals of Yves Tumor and its sprawling world of musical influences. Tumor is self-taught, having been playing music since it was 16 growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee. Its 2020 album, “Heaven To A Tortured Mind,” is when it broke through the dense world of experimental music, developing a kind of “if you know you know” reputation amongst indieheads everywhere.

Its March release, “Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or, Simply, Hot Between Worlds)” was released to considerable hype and praise, bringing a punk-rock sound to the synthy, creative pop work that Tumor is known for. Our highlighted track, “Meteora Blues,” is just one of many romantic, chaotic songs that give Tumor its distinctive sound.




7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – indie/alt (6 total spins, highlighted hit: “The Widow” off the March 2023 release “V”)

Unknown Mortal Orchestra is the vision of Hawaiian-New Zealand artist Ruban Nielson and a revolving door of close-knit collaborators. Influenced by eclectic pop, tropical folk, and Hawaiian Hapa-haole (half-white) music, their sound is distinctive and always has more than you expect going on under the surface.

According to their Spotify, their most recent release, “V,” is about “Family, Nielsen’s interrogation of his earliest musical influences, and the joy of having fun while making music.” There’s a vintage feel to the record, with a modern, beat-forward twist on older, swingier island sounds. Our highlighted track, “The Widow” is a looping instrumental with a jazzy bend, evolving into improvisational saxophone.






6.  Protomartyr – rock – (8 total spins, highlighted hit: “For Tomorrow” off of the June 2023 release, “Formal Growth in The Desert”)

Noisy and urgent post-punk are what you can expect to hear when turning on Protomartyr, a Detroit-based four-piece that draws from the talk-y, proggy influences of European post-punk. Their debut record, “No Passion All Technique,” was released in 2012, and they’ve had a steady stream of ever-evolving releases ever since. The band is currently formed from vocalist Joe Casey, guitarist Greg Ahe, bassists Scott Davidson and Kevin Boyer, and drummer Alex Leonard. They also collaborate with Kelley Deal of the Breeders.

Their “Formal Growth in The Desert” record adds a dried-out, Western approach to their usual post-punk sound, inspired partially by the scores of vintage spaghetti westerns, which creep through the ebbs and flows of their layered instrumentals. Our highlighted track, “For Tomorrow,” has an impatient, classic punk sound that situates them with influences like Wire and The Fall.





5. Matt Maltese – indie/alt – (11 total spins, highlighted hit: “Coward” from the April 2023 release “Driving Just To Drive,”)

Chances are you’ve heard at least one Matt Maltese song in the past week, whether it’s on the radio or while scrolling through TikTok. Thanks to his smash-hit 2017 single “As the World Caves in,” which is currently sitting pretty at 330 million streams on Spotify, he’s well-established in the contemporary indie pop scene. His soft voice has been compared to the likes of Chet Baker, but his music has a more playful, contemporary take on classic lovelorn lamentations.

Maltese’s fourth studio album, “Driving Just to Drive,” features the same heartbroken chamber-pop music that he’s known for. Our highlighted track, “Coward,” is a collaboration with Biig Piig, a bedroom pop artist from Ireland.






 4. Kelela – r&b – (11 total spins, highlighted track: “Divorce” off the February 2023 record “Raven”)

Kelela started making music in the early 2010s, her dreamy electronic r&b drawing a link between jazz, bedroom pop, soul, and ambient music. Raised in Washington DC, her admiration of artists like Little Dragon and Amel Larrieux were some of her biggest influences, pushing her towards a career in music she wasn’t sure she was pursuing until she was already there. Her sound is distinctive and atmospheric, taking the kind of patient, instrumental-heavy approach to her soundscapes that one might expect from a shoegaze artist.

Kelela’s 2023 release, “Raven,” is her first release since her 2017 debut, “Take Me Apart,” and it’s well worth the wait. Though her debut featured faster-paced dance music, the world Kelela creates in “Raven” is intelligent, full of literary and musical influence, manifesting in a subtle unfurling of her complex introspection. She’s deeply focused on activism work, focusing on being in “partnership with black people” collaboratively and making sure others do the same. Our highlighted track, “Divorce,” is a slow-burn, elegant and ethereal track that almost sounds angelic.





3. Fruit Bats – folk – (11 total spins, highlighted hit: “See the World By Night” off of the April 2023 release “A River Running to Your Heart”)

Fruit Bats is the lifelong passion project of songwriter and vocalist Eric D. Johnson, who draws from the flowery feel of 60s folk to add an indie, twangy vibe that sounds right at home here in Colorado. Fruit Bats’ first release came in 2001 with the “Echolocation” record, and he’s probably best known for songs like “Humbug Mountain Song” and “The Bottom of It,” which came out in 2016 and 2019 respectively. Steadily touring and creating, Fruit Bats is a prolific act, with “A River Running to Your Heart” as Johnson’s 13th LP released under the Fruit Bats moniker.

“A River Running to Your Heart,” has a soft-indie feel that makes it perfect for a road-trip, a hike, or whatever hipster-y activities your heart desires. Our highlighted track, “See the World By Night,” is one of the main singles off of the record, epitomizing Johnson’s folk-pop tenderness.






2. Blair Gun – rock – (13 total spins, highlighted hit: “Genovese” off of the March 2023 release “Blaspheme Queen”)

Blair Gun was founded in San Diego by Joedin Morelock (vocals) and Zach Cavor (guitar), later joined by Alland Mendivil (bass) and Jake Richter (drums). Their sound is best described as alt-rock, and “Blaspheme Queen” is their debut album.

Our highlighted track, “Genovese,” wouldn’t be out of place on an old acid rock compilation, drawing sonically from garage and psych rock. Self-described on their Spotify profile as “Music to be heard in a 2013 Hyundai Elanta,” Blair Gun are more than worth keeping an eye on, especially because they also made the #5 slot in last week’s Weekly Gems with the track “Pound Sand.”






1. Beach House – alt/indie – (15 total spins, highlighted hit: “Devil’s Pool” off of the April release “Become”)

Beach House are one of the most well-known dream-pop/shoegaze acts there are. A duo formed in Baltimore in 2004, the duo consist of Victoria Legrand (vocals, keyboard) and Alex Scally (guitar, keyboard, backing vocals). Bringing their ambient, synthy dream-pop melodies to a broader audience, Beach House are a particularly well-known example of how fuzzy guitars and space-age vocals are rapidly becoming the norm in contemporary pop music, influencing other popular artists you may have heard of like Alvvays and Suki Waterhouse.

The EP “Become” is based off a few extra tracks created during the process of molding their 2022 record, “Once Twice Melody.” They describe the songs as not fitting “in the world of OTM, but…a little world of their own.” Our highlighted track, “Devil’s Pool,” was a very popular play this last week! Its echoing reverb and soft, somber vocals are hard not to get lost in.





The KCSU Music Directors can be reached at