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New releases lead gems with Faye Webster, Mannequin P*ssy, and I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME

Hozier’s new EP is also getting some love!
New releases lead gems with Faye Webster, Mannequin P*ssy, and I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME

“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 every week and discussed on the show “KCSU Weekly Gem Countdown.” 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. Holdfast. – rock – 6 spins – highlighted hit: “Real Life” off of the 2023 release “Break Outta The Mold”

Formed by three brothers, Charlie, Mikey, and Tommy Maddocks, Holdfast. are a local band who often play both in FOCO and at CSU events! Their career has been building since 2016, a steady stream of singles bolstering their discography until their debut full-length release, 2021’s “Stay and Fight.” They also released the EP “Movies” in 2022, and, most recently, in 2023 they released their EP “Break Outta The Mold,” which gets plenty of play within our local music selection here at KCSU.

With an alt-rock sound reminiscent of cited inspirations like The Killers, Holdfast. are always a good live band to see for anyone in Northern Colorado—they even played Red Rocks opening for Dermot Kennedy recently! Our highlighted hit is off of “Break Outta The Mold,” called “Real Life.”

9. Hozier – folk – 8 spins – highlighted hit: “Too Sweet” off of the 2024 release “Unheard”

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 last fall 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 four song EP “Unheard” was released this March with tracks that were worked on for the record but not initially released alongside it. It’s pretty popular here right now, and we anticipate it will be for the rest of the year! We’re going to play the lead single from this EP this week, “Too Sweet”

8. Idles – rock –  8 spins – highlighted hit: “Grace” off of the 2024 release “TANGK”

Formed in Bristol in 2009, Idles is made up of Joe Talbot (vocals), Mark Bowen (guitar), Lee Kiernan (guitar), Jon Beavis (drums), and Adam Devonshire (bass). Performing live shows exclusively for almost eight years, the band debuted with 2017’s “Brutalism,” followed by 2018’s “Joy As An Act of Resistance,” both of which cemented their spot as one of the defining acts in today’s British punk scene. Their 2020 release “Ultra Mono” went #1 in the UK, with the track “Ne Touch Pas Moi” becoming a consent anthem.

Idles most recent release, “Tangk,” came out this February! Singles like “Dancer” (feat. LCD Soundsytem) and “Gift Horse” have been leading singles leading up to the record’s release.The title “Tangk” is an a onomatopoeiac that they chose because of “the lashing way the band imagined the guitars sounding, that has grown into a sigil for living in love.” — This political, love-centered approach is a vital part of both this album and the band’s current ethos. Our highlighted hit this week is “Grace.”

7. I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME – pop – 9 spins – highlighted hit: “Infatuation” off of the 2024 release “Gloom Division”

I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME is the solo project of musician Dallon Weekes, who’s known for his other band The Brobecks as well as his eight-year stint in “Panic! at the Disco.”

The band’s moniker is one that’s been around since 2009, inspired by a quote from “Back to the Future.”  IDKHBTFM initially also featured long-term friend and collaborator Ryan Seaman, but he left in 2023. The project’s debut EP was “2018’s “1981 Extended Play,” with tracks like “Choke” and “Do It All The Time” honoring the band’s retro, synthpop-inspired sound.

Weekes most recent release, “Gloom Division,” has a funkier approach to it, produced by the producer Dave Fridmann, known for his work with the Flaming Lips and MGMT, which helped Weekes expand sonically, blending 70’s funk and glam rock influences with 80’s synthpop and 90’s r&b ballads. It’s a super fun record, and we’ve been loving it here at the station! Our highlighted hit is one of the lead singles from the record: “Infatuation”

6. hemlocke springs – pop – 9 spins – highlighted hit: “Gimme All Ur Love” off of the 2023 release “Going…Going…GONE!”

Isimeme “Naomi” Udu, aka hemlocke springs, is a testament to the internet’s power to skyrocket the careers of young musicians who use the platform to share music that challenges mainstream sounds. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Springs grew up listening to pop and electronic music, experimenting on Garage Band with her own self-produced songs.

Springs posted her first few songs ”Girlfriend” and “Gimme All Ur Love,” on her TikTok page spring of last year, immediately going viral. Her eclectic, sugary electric-pop speaks to the DIY, bedroom-pop approach that’s coming to define the new generation of pop stars. Her debut EP, “Going…Going…GONE!” came out last September, already with millions of streams online. Since we’ve covered this whole EP on gems over the course of the year, it feels good to go back to a classic and play “Gimme All Ur Love” again!

5. Buck Meek – folk – 10 spins – highlighted hit: “Didn’t Know You Then” off of the 2023 release “Haunted Mountain”

Known for his position as guitarist and backing vocalist in the alt-folk band Big Thief (as well as the ex-husband to lead vocalist Adrianne Lenker), Buck Meek made into our gems this week with his solo music, folk with a hint of the rocky, western, Texas twang he grew up with. Buck Meek’s debut record, the self-titled “Buck Meek,” has twee tracks like “Joe By The Book” and “Ruby” that give a pretty solid look at the folksy songwriting that Meek is known for.

Buck Meek’s most recent release, August’s “Haunted Mountain,” is all about love and home, made up of stories from childhood and onward. His lushest record, there’s an earnest kind of sweetness to Meek’s vocals and lyrics that feel singular to him. On the love songs making up the record, Meek says on his Bandcamp: “Not break-up songs, but an actual love song written in earnest? That is taboo now…Sometimes it can feel like all the great love songs have already been written.” Our highlighted track this week is the extra-sweet “Didn’t Know You Then.”

4. Japanese House – pop – 10 spins – highlighted hit: “You always get what you want” 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. This week we’re featuring the track “You always get what you want.”

3. Mannequin P*ssy – rock – 11 spins – highlighted hit: “I Got Heaven” off of the 2024 release of the same name

Mannequin P*ssy have been kickin’ since 2010, formed in Philadelphia by Missy Dabice and Athanasios Paul, friends who met in school. In its current iteration, it consists of Missy, Kaleen Reading (drums), and Bear Regisford (bass) and Maxine Steen (guitar). Stalwarts of the modern day punk/power-pop, riot-grrrl influenced music atmosphere, Mannequin P*ssy have more than made a name for themselves and inspired tons of other acts through their raw, DIY, fun lyrics and performances. They bought the masters of all of their earlier releases in August 2023, re-releasing through their own label, Romantic Records. Their most recent release, March 1st’s “I Got Heaven,” is one of the most fully-fleshed releases from the band yet.

Inspired by a breakup, Missy had this to say about the realization this inspired on the album’s direction in an interview with Kerrang!: “I’ve been someone’s girlfriend for 10 years straight of my life – and for what?” She also added: “[Relationships] are so unbelievably beautiful and can cause such immense growth, but if you’re not careful with the way that you let them intertwine in the life that you already have, they can really take it over. You can suddenly be expected to be the type of person that someone else needs you to be, instead of the type of person that you are.”

That logic persists through this album, where Missy’s confidence has grown with her status as a woman in her thirties fronting a hardcore band, a space not afforded to women nearly as often as men. This is reflected in the lyrics and sound, which are expansive and vulnerable, raw and tongue-in-cheek. Our highlighted hit is the title track from the record, “I Got Heaven.” 

2. The Last Dinner Party – pop – 12 spins – highlighted hit: “Caesar on a TV Screen” off of the 2024 release “Prelude to Ecstacy”

Formed in London 2021, The Last Dinner Party’s hype is currently inescapable. Formed by Abigail Morris (vocals), Lizzie Mayland (vocals, guitar), Emily Roberts (lead guitar, mandolin, flute), Georgia Davies (bass), and Aurora Nishevci (keyboards, vocals). The band spent time in the London music scene—particularly the legendary Windmill Scene, known for acts like Black Midi and Black Country, New Road
—before putting themselves out there, watching the other acts to find what direction they wanted to go in—it’s why their aesthetic and music already feel so curated and time-honed—the corsets, the lace, the drama!

Inspired by acts ranging from Kate Bush to Bowie to Queen to Florence + The Machine, The Last Dinner Party’s sound is theatrical, avante-garde art-pop that feels as decadent and debauched as their name and aesthetic suggests. The band have taken off over the past year, opening for Hozier over the summer (and in good company with his own frequent references to literature and religion in his lyrics!)Their debut record, “Prelude to Ecstacy,” was released February of this year and has been massively popular at the station! Our highlighted track this week is one of the higher-drama singles “Caesar on a TV Screen”

1. Faye Webster – alt/indie – 13 spins – highlighted hit: “Lego Ring (Feat. Lil Yachty)” off of the 2024 release “Underdressed at the Symphony”

This is Faye Webster’s first time in our gems! It makes sense, given the release of her most recent release, “Underdressed at the Symphony,” which came out a few weeks ago! Webster is an artist who isn’t easily categorized, shifting between realms of country, folk, singer-songwriter, pop, and r&b easily. Describing the album’s title, Webster describes her therapeutic impulse trips to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s shows on her Bandcamp: “Going to the symphony was almost like therapy for me… I was quite literally underdressed at the symphony because I would just decide at the last moment that that’s what I wanted to do.”

Much of Webster’s music is understated and lyric-focused, but the first single for this era, “But Not Kiss,” has a definite energy to it, and she’s also collaborated with Lil Yachty (a lifelong friend) and experimented with vocoder-based sounds on this record. Our highlighted hit this week is the one released with Lil Yachty, which has been getting endless play this week! It’s “Lego Ring.”