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Mitski maintains her lead, featuring jazz from Cautious Clay and Ezra Collective topping the charts

Mitski leading KCSU’s charts is to be expected, but this week we have some surprise jazz slots from Cautious Clay and Ezra Collective, plus some returns from Beach House and Jeff Rosenstock
Mitski maintains her lead, featuring jazz from Cautious Clay and Ezra Collective topping the charts

“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. Spellling – electronic – 7 spins – Highlighted hit: “Haunted Water” off of the 2023 release “SPELLLING & The Mystery School”

It’s difficult to find words to describe Spellling (Chrystia Cabral) other than “genius,” but it’s worth a try: confounding any attempts to place her into a single genre, Spelling’s music is fluid, winding, mercurial, multitudinous. With an R&B voice but electronic, experimental pop production, Spellling’s music is just as likely to be haunting and eery as it is romantic. Heavy wavering synths, spiralling piano, chamber backing; Spellling’s music has it all, likening comparisons to pioneering artists like Kate Bush, also boasting whispery vocals and experimental progressive pop.

“SPELLLING & THE MYSTERY SCHOOL” came out August of this year, an album made up of reworkings of already existing songs. “Haunted Water” originally came out on 2019’s “Mazy Fly,” but this version is synthier and spookier, even more fitting for the season! Spellling also featured on our Gems a few weeks back with the track “Boys at School.”


9. Current Joys – indie/alt – 8 spins – highlighted hit: “I feel truth inside of u” off of the August release “Love + Pop”

If you’re unfamiliar with Current Joys, you might be familiar with Nick Rattigan’s other indie rock band, Surf Curse, in which he’s the lead vocalist and drummer. Current Joys is Rattigan’s personal project, and he’s been releasing music under the moniker since 2015’s single “Kids.” Another artist with an internet-induced cult status, Current Joys is known for movie samples and references (often Cronenburg), and sometimes references to other artists, like in the viral 2013 track “New Flesh,” which features the lyric “I listened to The Cure / and then I cried.” Tracks like “Blondie” and “New Flesh” have amassed hundreds of millions of streams.

The new “LOVE + POP” record came out in August, a Lil Peep-inspired record where Rattigan’s enjoyment of musical experimentation makes itself clear; alongside his usual expected lo-fi indie, there are soft pop tracks, hip-hop ones including a collaboration with Lil Yachty, and even a 9 minute house track. Our highlighted hit, “I feel truth inside of u,” is a slower, sadder song in keeping with earlier Current Joys vibes. Current Joys also featured on last week’s gems with the track “Gatsby.”


8. A Giant Dog – rock – 8 spins – highlighted hit: “I Believe” off of the August release “Bite”

A Giant Dog was formed in 2008 by Sabrina Ellis (vocals) and Andrew Cashen (vocals, guitar), Orville Neeley (drums), all friends from high school. They added Andy Bauer (guitar) and Graham Low (Bass) later, getting their start in the Texas indie rock scene and releasing their debut record, “Fight,” in 2012. A Giant Dog’s music stretch from indie rock into other realms, mostly grunge, garage, punk, and, on their most recent record “Bite,” glam-rock, where they credit Electric Light Orchestra and Dio as influences.

“Bite” is a concept album about a “virtual utopia” called Avalonia, accompanied by an entire screenplay detailing the protagonist’s adventures through Avalonia, centering largely on topics like virtual reality and gender dysphoria. Our highlighted hit, “I Believe,” is an ode to “gravity and drugs and outer space.”


7. Jeff Rosenstock – rock – 9 spins – Highlighted hit: “I Wanna Be Wrong” off of the August 2023 release “HELLMODE”
Jeff Rosenstock has a special place in many-a-punk-kid’s heart. Starting his career with ska acts like The Arrogant Sons of Bitches and Bomb the Music Industry!, Jeff’s music has always been bursting with heart, humor, and a healthy dose of political rage. Moving to make punker music under his own name in the early 2010s, Jeff’s first release as himself was 2012’s “I Look Like Shit.” Rosenstock’s fanbase has reminded loyal and steadily grown, especially after the success of his 2016 record “WORRY,” which many consider one of his best (and was how I got into him myself!)

“HELLMODE” came out August 31st of this year, an expansive record that takes Rosenstock’s usual punky-poppy tunes and adds lusher instrumentation, building up into crescendo endings that capture his dueling senses of hope and hopelessness in the face of the hellish times we happen to be living in. Jeff will be touring here in Colorado in December, and the show is sure to be a fun one! We’ve featured the track “HEAD” from Jeff on Gems before, but this week’s is “I WANNA BE WRONG,” another track straddling Rosenstock’s dual hopeless/hopefulness.


6. Dizzy – pop – 9 spins – highlighted hit: “Stupid 4 U” off of the August release “Dizzy”

Dizzy is a canadian indie-pop band formed in Ontario, Canada, in the mid 2010s. Their debut record, “Baby Teeth,” was nominated for multiple awards, including winning the Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year. Their second record, “The Sun and Her Scorch,” came out in 2020 to similar praise. Their third record, the self-titled “Dizzy,” has a conceptual clarity, the sound of a band really coming into their own.

In an interview with Flood Magazine Dizzy’s vocalist Katie Munshaw describes their music as “pink in the middle,” Dizzy’s music is both earnest and self-conscious, raw and polished. Our highlighted track, “Stupid 4 U,” is a self-deprecating little love song, since Mushaw says she “can’t write about romantic love without feeling like a corndog.”


5. Ezra Collective – Jazz – 10 spins – highlighted hit: Life Goes On (feat. Samba the Great)” off of the 2022 release “Where I’m Meant to Be”
Ezra Collective is a British jazz quintet made up of a group of musicians who met through a jazz program called Tomorrow’s Warriors, joining together after finding difficulty succeeding in the world of London’s jazz scene. The members are Femi Koleoso (drums), TJ Koleoso (bass), Joe Armon-Jones (keys), Ife Ogunjobi, (trumpet), and James Mollison (tenor saxophone), though they have been known to collaborate with other artists at times, which they do a few times on their 2022 record “Where I’m Meant to Be.”

“Where I’m Meant to Be” was the recipient of the 2023 Mercury Prize, which speaks for itself, but the album has plenty to say—sonically dense, playful, experimental, and made up of not just jazz, but afrobeat, reggae, soul, hip-hip, and much, much more. Our highlighted track, “Life Goes On (feat. Samba the Great),” is one of the record’s leading singles.

4. Cautious Clay – jazz – 12 spins – highlighted hit: “Moments Stolen” off of the August release “Karpeh”
Cautious Clay is a singer, songwriter, musician, and producer based in New York. He got his start working on mixing beats for friends, heavily influenced by hip-hop and electronic music. Most of his music is more rooted in r&b and production-focused songwriting, but his August record and Blue Note debut, “Karpeh” is a departure for him; “Karpeh” is leap into the world of jazz that, judging by his level of passion and ability, seems to have been an easy transition for him.

“Karpeh” is a labor of love, with Cautious playing on over 8 different instruments and collaborating heavily with other unexpected artists. He describes the record as “equating my life’s journey to an amalgamation of my family’s past life experiences, an exploration of my present, and how those pieces will influence the future.”

Our highlighted track, “Moments Stolen,” is the album’s final song, a somber and soulful little closer.

 3. This is The Kit – folk – 12 spins – highlighted hit: “More Change” off of the September release “Careful of Your Keepers”
This is the Kit is the alias of Paris-based British musician Kate Stables, a project she’s been releasing music under since 2003. Along with her band, This is The Kit’s first album, “Krülle Bol,” came out in 2008, but their breakthrough release, 2015’s “Bashed Out,” was what propelled them forwards in the indie folk scene.

Their most recent release, “Careful of Your Keepers,” came out this September, described by Stables as exploring “ The fragility of things. Of situations. Of relationships. Of humans. What we do to look after each other and ourselves. The passing of time and what that does to us, and how we live our lives going forward.” Our highlighted track, “More Change,” is all about this passage of time, about change and all of the complicated things it encompasses.


2. Beach House – alt/indie – 13 total spins, highlighted hit: “American Daughter” 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 artists 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, “American Daughter,” has been the top Beach House track here this week, but previously a few other tracks from “Become” have featured on gems before. Beach House are pretty popular here at KCSU!


1. Mitski – alt/indie – 15 spins – highlighted hit: “I’m Your Man” off of the September release “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We”

Mitsuki Miyawaki, known simply as Mitski, is a singer-songwriter who’s been releasing music since her first few self-released records, “Lush” (2012), and “Retired From Sad, New Career in Business” (2013), which she originally made while still in college. Mitski’s cult status among indie fans only grew after her subsequent releases “Bury Me At Makeout Creek” (2014) and “Puberty 2” (2016). Mitski achieved more mainstream success following 2018’s “Be the Cowboy” with tracks like “Nobody” and “Washing Machine Heart” going viral on TikTok and Twitter.

Mitski’s music is associated with many online niches: sad Kendall Roy edits, sad edits in general, what’s often called “sad girl” music, but Mitski rejects the idea that her music has to be defined by sadness, saying in a video for Crack Magazine that “The sad girl thing was reductive and tired like 5-10 years ago, and it still is today…let’s retire the sad girl shtick.”

Her newest album, “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We,” was released September 15th to massive acclaim from critics and fans. Mitski describes this on her Spotify as her most “American album,” and the twangy “My Love Mine All Mine” featured in our top slot last week. This week’s highlighted track is “I’m Your Man,” a song constructed from the sounds of dogs barking, crickets, and other complicated background texture.