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R&B takes over this week’s gems, with tracks from Thundercat and Omar Apollo

You can also expect the usual favorites of our gems, artists like Hozier and Boygenius
R&B takes over this weeks gems, with tracks from Thundercat and Omar Apollo

“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 12-1. 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. Tyler, The Creator – hip-hop/rap – 7 spins – highlighted hit: “MANIFESTO (Feat Domo Genesis)” off the 2021 release “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST”

Tyler Okonma, known creatively as Tyler, The Creator, has been through considerable evolution over his career and presence on the internet. Starting out with transgressive lyricism (and a meme-fueling internet presence a few years later), his first solo release was 2009’s “Bastard,” followed by his first album, 2011’s “Goblin.” He blew up following the build of the single “YONKERS,” and has enjoyed a cult following ever since.

2017’s “Flower Boy” record broke new ground for Okonma, skyrocketing him to the top of Hip-Hop charts (and defining the high school experience for every teenager at the time). His most recent release, March’s “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST: The Estate Sale,” is an expanded version of the 2021 version of the record, featuring eight additional tracks. Our highlighted hit, “MANIFESTO (Feat Domo Genesis),” is a track that still receives tons of play here at the station.

9. Omar Apollo – r&b – 8 spins – highlighted hit: “Live For Me” off the October release “Live For Me”

Described on his Spotify page as having “mastered longing,” alternative R&B artist Omar Apollo’s music is Latin, queer, and popular for a reason. Born in Indiana to parents from Mexico, he learned guitar at age 11 to help deal with the isolation he felt. Debuting with a handful of singles in 2017 and his debut EP, “Stereo,” already had a fully-formed sound and approach that was impressive full-stop, let alone for a 21 year old. Subsequent releases have continued to build his fanbase and acclaim, with 2022’s “Ivory” (his first full-length album) as a particular high point; the track “Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me At All)” currently sits at over two hundred million streams on Spotify.

His most recent release is from this October, a four-track EP called “Live For Me,” which he handpainted the cover for—a self portrait that comes with an extra special surprise on the back cover of vinyl editions. Our highlighted track is the one the EP takes its name from, “Live For Me,” which he described in an Instagram story as such: “This song started as a poem I wrote around the Prototype tour. So many emotions and thoughts that lived deep in me I could only ever surface thru writing. Sometimes conversation is too intimate for me. Thank you to John Shanks and [Dylan Patrice Wiggins] for bringing it to life.”

8. Wilco – folk/alt – 8 spins – highlighted hit: “Ten Dead” off of the September release “Cousin”
A staple of the Chicago music scene, Wilco were formed in 1994 out of the remnants of alternative country group Uncle Tupelo with members Jeff Tweedy (vocals) and John Stirratt (bass). They’ve released over twelve studio albums and slowly evolved since their 90s rock-folk sound, moving into indier realms as time has gone on. Releases like “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” and “Sky Blue Sky” are considered classics for good reason.

Recently, Wilco have been having a resurgence thanks to the inclusion of their music in the popular Hulu show “The Bear,” where tracks like “Via Chicago” and “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” have elevated scenes in beautiful ways. Their newest record, “Cousin,” isn’t named as a reference to the character on “The Bear,” but is inspired by Tweedy feeling like a “cousin to the world.” Our highlighted track is “Ten Dead,” which speaks to the fatigue of turning on the news to see another tragedy.

7. Thundercat – r&b/hip-hop – 10 spins – highlighted hit: “Black Qualls (feat. Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington & Childish Gambino)” off of the 2020 release “It Is What It Is”

Stephen Bruner, known by fans as Thundercat, is a bassist and vocalist who came up in the thrash band Suicidal Tendencies before embarking on a solo career. Blending jazz, hip-hop, r&b, and more, Thundercat defies expectations and consistently delivers when it comes to great records and shows (his recent Red Rocks show was attended by multiple KCSU DJs who spoke very highly of it, including Lady J)

Bruner’s most recent record, “It Is What It Is,” was released in 2020, Grammy-winning and dedicated to his friend and long-time collaborator Mac Miller, who’s sampled vocally on the title track. Our featured track on gems this week is the most collaboration-dense track on the record, all heavy-hitters: Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, & Childish Gambino. As can be imagined, “Black Qualls” goes crazy.

6. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – rock – 11 spins – highlighted hit: “Theia” off of the October release “The Silver Cord”
Known for their prolific new releases, liberal genre-crossing, and nostalgic psych-sound, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are well known in music circles for their unbridled enthusiasm for music in all its forms. The band were formed in Australia in 2011 by a group of friends who enjoyed playing together, and every single release still has the energy of a group of friends experimenting musically together, seeing where it might take them—from garage rock to death metal to analog synths.

Constantly releasing new music, King Giz released four albums in the past year or so, with “Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms, and Lava” and “Changes” in October of 2022, “PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation” June of this year, and “The Silver Cord” this October, which is a synthesizer-heavy complement to the Petrodragonic record. The longest track on it is 88 minutes, but we’ll stick with the shorter “Theia.”

5. Fleetwood Mac – rock – 11 spins – highlighted hit: “Rhiannon” off of 1975’s “Rumours”

One of the defining acts of the 70s, Fleetwood Mac are still just as popular now as they were then, occasionally creeping out of the woodwork for reunion shows and collaborations with artists like Harry Styles. Their tumultuous time as a band is the stuff of music legend, recently inspiring the Amazon Prime show “Daisy Jones & The Six,” about a 70s band breaking up at the height of their fame. Tracks from their “Rumours” and “Fleetwood Mac” records are particularly inescapable.

It’s always rad when an older band makes it to the top of our gems, and our featured track this week to celebrate that is a Fleetwood Mac classic, “Rhiannon.”



4. Olivia Rodrigo – pop – 12 spins – highlighted hit: “Lacy” off of the September release “GUTS”
No longer just an up-and-comer in the world of pop music, Olivia Rodrigo is the world of modern pop music, a leading figure in shaping the sounds and aesthetics of modern pop music. Her debut record, “SOUR,” was a massive pop-cultural moment, the fastest album in history to have all of its songs certified RIAA Platinum for higher. Rodrigo got her start as an actress, featuring on shows like “Bizaardvark” and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Show,” but her passion for music led her to the career she has now.

Rodrigo’s second release, “GUTS,” came out in September to more praise and hype, currently putting her at the spot of the 22nd most-streamed artist in the entire world on Spotify. The album has a pop-rock/pop-punk inspired approach, edgier and more honest than Rodrigo was able to be on “SOUR.”

Our highlighted hit this week is “Lacy,” one of the slower tracks on the record and an ode to jealous infatuation.

3. Cherry Glazerr – alt/indie – 14 spins – highlighted hit: “Bad Habit” off of the September release “I Don’t Want You Anymore” 
Cherry Glazerr formed in Los Angeles in 2013, fronted by Clementine Creevy, the lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist. They’ve moved from their initial grungy output to lighter, indier tracks on their most recent record, “I Don’t Want You Anymore,” but their garage influences still shine through on every track.

Creevy describes the process of making “I Don’t Want You Anymore” as a period of intense, raw self-reflection, quoted on Spotify as saying “I’ve spent these years taking a hard look at myself, at my relationships, and writing about it. I guess I’m coming to terms with a lot of my bullshit.”
Our highlighted track, “Bad Habit,” is one of the most popular from the record (and at the station this month!)


2. Hozier – folk – 15 spins – highlighted hit: “Abstract (Psychopomp)” off of the August releae “Unreal Unearth”
Hozier (aka Andrew Hozier-Byrne) is a singer-songwriter from Ireland who skyrocketed to fame after his 2013 song, “Take Me To Church” became one of the most popular songs of the year (now with over 2 billion streams on spotify). His bluesy, folk-oriented music explores love, politics, religion, nature, and everything else one might expect from an Irish wordsmith whose songs reference everything from the bible to Dante’s Inferno to his favorite jazz songs and poems.

Hozier’s most recent release, “Unreal Unearth,” was released a few months ago on August 18th! It’s based upon Dante’s Inferno, with each song representing one of the circles of hell that Dante journeys through in the famous poem. Hozier wrote this album partially as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, telling “As a structure, I did want to acknowledge something in my experiences of [that] two, three year period, and what I was processing. I [wanted] to find a way that nods to that, and the significance of that — albeit, not necessarily in a way that was a lockdown album or a pandemic album, or songs that focus on the nuances of that experience, but at least acknowledge the journey. And it’s taking the structure of that journey as imagined by Dante, these Nine Circles he walks through and then he comes out the other side.”

The record is a hit with Hozier fans who waited patiently for its release, and Hozier’s two Red Rocks shows in October were attended by tons of students who’ve spoken pretty highly of the show! Hozier has been in our charts consistently since we got “Unreal Unearth” into our rotation!
We’ve played “Abstract (Psychopomp)” on gems before, but it’s worth giving another spin or two.

1. Boygenius – alt/indie – 16 spins – highlighted hit: “Powers” off of the 
Formed from indie darlings Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker, boygenius’s first, self-titled EP came out in 2018. Formed “on accident” after the three became friends, boygenius’s cult status has grown into a devoted fanbase. Their first full-length album, “the record,” came out this year in March, and it was met with acclaim from fans and critics, a critical, commercial, and fan-led success. Their newest release as boygenius, the four-song “the rest” EP is what came of songs that didn’t make it on the original record, and each track was revealed one-by-one over the course of their tour until the EP was released.

Our highlighted track, “Powers,” is the only one from the new EP we haven’t featured yet, another great pick to cry to!