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For our Valentine’s charts this year, we’re celebrating classic love songs from Talking Heads and The Cure!

You can also expect the usuals like Mitski and Beabadoobee, but this week’s charts are all about love <3
For our Valentines charts this year, were celebrating classic love songs from Talking Heads and The Cure!

“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 Friday from 10-11. 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! This week we have a V-day special, with a little extra love in our songs!

10. The Big Moon – alt/indie – 7 sound – highlighted hit: “This Love” off of the 2022 release “Here Is Everything” 

Formed in London, 2014, The Big Moon are an all-woman indie rock band, formed of Juliette Jackson (vocals), Soph Nathan (guitar), Celia Archer (bass), and Fern Ford (drums). Their debut EP, “The Road,” came out in 2016, and their debut “Love in the 4th Dimension” came out in 2017. They supported Pixies on their 2019 UK tour while working on their second record, “Walking Like We Do.”

Following lead singer Juliette Jackson becoming a mother, they began work on their third album, “Here Is Everything,” which came out October of 2022. Our highlighted track is “This Love,” in keeping with the V-day theme!

9. Grrrl Gang – rock – 8 spins – highlighted hit: “Blue-Stained Lips” off of the 2023 release “Spunky!”

Born in Indonesia’s Yogyakarta, Grrrl Gang is formed of Angeeta Sentana (vocals), Akbar Rumandung (bass), and Edo Alventa (guitar). Their influences come from the feminist, riot grrrl punk music of the 90s and 2000s, which influenced not only their sound but the subjects of their songs, which are rooted in feminist explorations of their lives and feelings. Formed in 2016, their first release was 2019’s “Dream Grrrl”, and their debut record was 2020’s “Here To Stay!”

Their most recent release, September’s “Spunky!” is evidence of their increasing confidence in their sound as their music finds audiences beyond the Southeast Asian music scene and gains new listeners abroad every day! They’re pretty popular here at KCSU! Our highlighted track is “Blue-Stained Lips,” a punk love song.

8. The Mountain Goats – alt/indie – 8 spins – highlighted hit: “Fresh Tattoo” off of the 2023 release “Jenny From Thebes”

The Mountain Goats are the product of John Darnielle, who has been making music with myriads of collaborators since the Mountain Goats debut, a series of EPs and albums spanning from the mid 90s through the early 2000s. Incredibly prolific, there’s never been more than a year or two without a Mountain Goats release. Known for their varied, folk-punk oriented sound and lyrics that explore religion, and popular releases over the years like “All Hail West Texas”, “Heretic Pride”, and “Goths”.

The Mountain Goats’ most recent release,“Jenny From Thebes”, returns to a character from “All Hail West Texas”, 20 years later, the owner of a home host to all kinds of misfits passing through. Our highlighted track is one of the lead songs from the record, “Fresh Tattoo”

7. The Japanese House – pop – 10 spins – highlighted hits: “Touching Yourself” off of the 2023 release “In The End It Always Does”

Amber Mary Bain (known musically as The Japanese House, is an indie-pop singer from England, known for her dreamy vocals and production. Swimming from synthpop to rock to folk-pop, Bain’s sound is as elusive as she is. Her androgynous vocals and lyrics have cemented her as a popular figure in the world of queer music, and her most streamed release, 2017’s “Saw You In a Dream” is a particularly popular cult hit in this regard.

The Japanese House’s most recent release was June of 2023, her second-ever LP entitled“In The End It Always Does”. The album has been a bit of a slow burn at the station, but it’s great to see it finally in our gems! Bain describes the album as exploring all of the relationships she’s lost over the years, as well as the experience of growing up queer. Our track this week is on the sultrier side, entitled “Touching Yourself” 

6. The Cure – rock – 11 spins – highlighted hit: “Lovesong” off of the 1989 record “Disintegration”

Perhaps the defining band for black-clad romantics everywhere, The Cure were formed in Crawley, Sussex, England in the late seventies, in its earliest iteration featuring Robert Smith (vocals/guitars), Michael Dempsey (bass), Lol Tomhurst (drums), and Porl Thompson (guitars). Michael was soon replaced by Simon Gallup on bass, and him and Robert Smith are the two remaining members from the early Cure era to still be a part of the band now. Also joining are Jason Cooper (drums), Roger O’Donnel (keyboards), and Reeves Gabrels (guitars).

Though some of The Cure’s most popular tracks are ones like “Friday, I’m in Love” and “Just Like Heaven,” their music doesn’t just trace these upbeat paths. The Cure have always been dark, experimental, playful, and genre-bending in their music, rejecting the “goth” label time and again; in a 2006 Reuters interview, Smith said: “it’s so pitiful when ‘goth’ is still tagged onto the name The Cure. We’re not categorizable.” This is a fair assessment—The Cure definitely are not easily categorizable, and it’s easier not to expect them to be.

Our highlighted track, “Lovesong” is one of their most popular songs off of their seminal 1989 record “Disintegration,” a song that’s as classic now as it was then. It’s also, as the title suggests, a perfect love song.

5. Tennis – pop – 12 spins – highlighted hit: “Matrimony” off of the 2017 release “Yours Conditionally” 

One of the most exciting musical acts coming out of Colorado right now, Tennis are formed by husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore (keys, vocals), and Patrick Riley (guitar, keys), who met while students right here in Colorado. Frequently out on sailing excursions, their music often takes inspiration from the boating trips the pair have been taking since the early days of their relationship.

Inspired by 50s doo-wop with a soft psych-pop twist, Tennis are a favorite at the station (especially because of their Colorado origins). “Yours Conditionally” is a record in constant rotation here, as is the rest of their stuff! Their most recent venture, February’s “Pollen,” was written on a four-month sailing trip. Our highlighted track is “Matrimony,” the kind of song you would expect from a married couple.

4. Mitski – alt/indie – 12 spins – highlighted hit: “Heaven” off of the 2023 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’s tour begun last month, and shes just as magnetic a performer as ever. Our highlighted track is “Valentine, Texas” off of “Laurel Hell,” we think you know why!

3. Talking Heads – rock – 13 spins – highlighted hit: “Heaven” off of the 1979 release “Fear of Music”
Talking Heads
have inspired all kinds of questions since their 1977 debut, questions like: what is this beautiful house? Where does that highway go to? Am I right, am I wrong? My God, what have I done?

Really, though, Talking Heads are a vital element of music history, formed in the mid seventies and debuting with “Talking Heads ’77,” tracks like “Psycho Killer” and “The Big Country” cementing their position in the experimental music scene. There isn’t a genre they haven’t experimented with, led by David Byrne’s creative madness: post-punk, art-rock, dance-funk, world music, and more. Tracks like “Once In A Lifetime” and “Burning Down The House” were particularly explosive, and the recent re-release of their 1984 concert film, “Stop Making Sense,” has brought Talking Heads back into the conversation (not that they ever left).

Our highlighted hit, “Heaven,” is off of “Fear of Music,” and is a particularly lovely Talking Heads track for this time of year!

2. The Drums – alt/indie – 14 spins – highlighted hit: “Teach My Body” off of the 2023 release “Jonny”

Debuting with 2010’s self-titled “The Drums,” The Drums have been part of the indie-pop scene since the early 2010s, and their sound reflects that. With a revolving door of members until 2016, the only remaining member is frontman Jonathan Pierce, whose voice is the one you’ll hear when you turn on any Drums track. Most known for 2011’s“Portamento” (which defined middle school for a lot of us), The Drums have more to offer than just tracks like “Money” and“I Don’t Know How to Love,” which comes through clearly on their new release, “Jonny.”

“Jonny” is described on Spotify as capturing the “work of healing from childhood trauma and the shadow it casts over adulthood.” These tracks took longer to write than Pierce’s usual, bang-it-out method, which allows for an introspection and nuance that’s an interesting new direction for The Drums. Our highlighted track is all about overcoming bodily trauma through the power of love, “Teach My Body.”

1. Beabadoobee – pop – 16 spins – highlighted hit: the 2023 single “Glue Song”

Bea Kristi, known musically as Beabadoobee, was born in the Philippines and raised in London. She began her music career in 2017 with the single “Coffee,” which took off almost immediately. Another coffee themed track, “death bed (coffee for your head)” by Powfu featuring Bea, went viral on TikTok in 2020, currently sitting at over a billion streams on Spotify. Bea’s steady release of bedroom pop eps and records has built her a consistent presence in the indie music scene, and sugary-sweet tracks like “glue song” give her a ubiquitous presence in romantic playlists everywhere.

Her newest record, “Beatopia”, came out in 2022. It’s inspired by the made-up world she retreated into as a child, and the album is full of features, from Jockstrap’s Georgia Ellery to Pinkpantheress. Our highlighted track is one of the sweetest love songs (probably ever) in honor of V-day: “Glue Song.”