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Dance music and local artists take over KCSU’s spring gems

Artists like Shygirl and Maggie Rogers are featured, along with the local Jesus Christ Taxi Driver!
Dance music and local artists take over KCSUs spring gems

“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!

10. Beyonce – country – 9 spins – highlighted hit: “Bodyguard” off of the 2024 release “Cowboy Carter”

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, also known as just Beyonce or Queen Bey, is probably not someone you need introducing to. Since the beginning of her career as one third of Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé has been a performer, singer, dancer, writer, and more, with her prolific solo career beginning with 2003’s debut, “Dangerously in Love.” A steady stream of classics have defined her career since, from the sugary pop of her earlier career to the experimentation we’ve seen post 2016’s “Lemonade,” another album that was more of a cultural moment than just a record.

only came out July of 2022, but Beyoncé had more horse-related plans in mind. “Cowboy Carter”
is a record Beyonce initially teased, but fans weren’t sure if they could expect the full-length country record anytime soon. After releasing the first single, “Texas Hold ‘Em,” it became clear just how serious Beyoncé was. “Cowboy Carter” is expansive, playful, experimental, and an unapologetically country record. It’s been an instant success, with tracks like “Bodyguard” and her cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” becoming instant classics not only for Bey fans or country fans, but anybody who’s as into this album as we are here at KCSU. Today we’re featuring “Bodyguard,” which has received tons of love!

9. Adrianne Lenker – alt/indie – 11 spins – highlighted hit: “Vampire Empire” off of the 2024 release “Bright Future”

Adrianne Lenker is the lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for the indie-folk band Big Thief, as well as a solo artist who releases under her own name. She started writing and releasing music at the age of thirteen, and when she moved to New York she met fellow musician Buck Meek, who’s the other main songwriter/guitarist within Big Thief (they divorced in 2018, though remain very close). Lenker’s songwriting is prized for its complexity and intricacy, with her unique touch coming through clearly in Big Thief and solo projects. In terms of her solo career, which is what we’re celebrating here on gems, Lenker’s earliest release featured on her streaming pages is from 2014, “Hours Were the Birds.” 2020 songs like “anything” and “not a lot, just forever” have taken off for her over the past few years, laying the groundwork for the success of her newest solo project, “Bright Future.”

The album explores a lot of things, but heartbreak is definitely a prevailing theme. On the subject of heartbreak, Lenker says in a Cut interview that “There’s no way around [heartbreak]. So like, every little heartbreak that happens along the way is just preparation for the big one. So cherish it, savor it, push into it, and let yourself feel it fully, because it’s also beautiful. The Big Thief version of her track “Vampire Empire” has gotten tons of play here at KCSU, but today we’re going for Adrianne’s version!

8. Shygirl – 11 spins – electronic – highlighted hit: “Thicc” off of the 2024 EP “Club Shy”

Blane Muise, known by her moniker “Shygirl,” is a singer, DJ, rapper, and producer from England. She’s also the founder of the record label Nuxxe. She has worked with other giants of the experimental electronic/hyperpop/other scene like Arca and Sophie, and her music stretches through fields of club to grime to hyperpop. Her releases include a handful of EPs, her 2022 album “Nymph,” and her most recent release, the February EP “Club Shy,” which was re-released with extended mixes in March.

An unexpected but welcome addition to Gems, we’re excited to play some Shygirl today! We’re playing the track “thicc.”

7. Maggie Rogers – pop – 12 spins – highlighted hit: “So Sick of Dreaming” off of the 2024 release “Don’t Forget Me”

Maggie Rogers is a singer-songwriter and record producer from Easton, Maryland. After her song “Alaska” was played to Pharrell Williams during a master class at at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts in 2016, she gained widespread recognition. Originally a folk artist, Rogers studied abroad in France and, in French and German clubs, discovered a love for dance music that informed her current sound. She’s released three studio albums: 2019’s “Heard It In A Past Life,” 2022’s “Surrender,” and, her latest “Don’t Forget Me”

Rogers describes “Don’t Forget Me” as attempting to capture the feeling of “Sunday afternoon,” and we think she did alright! Our highlighted hit is one of the lead singles, “So Sick of Dreaming”

6. Jesus Christ Taxi Driver – rock – 13 spins – highlighted hit: “Ding Dong the Beeves Are Dead” off of the 2023 release “Lick My Soul”

Self-described on their website as “Somewhere between the violent rock and roll of jon spencer, the sophisticated rhythms of ali farka toure, and the religious disorientation of jean meslier,” Jesus Christ Taxi Driver are a local Fort Collins band who’ve been making a name for themselves across the front range music scene. They recently played at KCSU ‘s very own Fool’s Fest, so they definitely have some fans here at the station!

Their debut record, “Lick My Soul,” came out last July, with tracks like “Ding Dong The Beeves are Dead” and “Goat Hell,” their music is irreverent, unafraid to have a sense of humor while also still taking itself seriously as new, evolving rock and roll. Our highlighted track today is their lead single “Ding Dong the Beeves are Dead”

5. Faye Webster – alt/indie – 13 spins – highlighted hit: “Feeling Good Today” off of the 2024 release “Underdressed at the Symphony”

Faye Webster’s most recent release, “Underdressed at the Symphony,” has been getting constant play here since it came out. 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 this record has a playful exploration this it; she even collaborated with Lil Yachty
(a lifelong friend) and experimented with vocoder-based sounds on this record. Our highlighted hit this week is “Feeling Good Today”

4. The Last Dinner Party – pop – 12 spins – highlighted hit: “The Feminine Urge” off of the 2024 release “Prelude to Ecstacy”

Formed in London in 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 “The Feminine Urge”

3.Tennis – pop – 15 spins – highlighted hit: “100 Lovers” 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 of 2023’s “Pollen,”
was written on a four-month sailing trip. Our highlighted track today is the classic “100 Lovers” off of “Ritual in Repeat”

2. Hozier – folk – 20 spins – highlighted hit: “Empire Now” 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 full-length 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, especially “Too Sweet,” which is one of Hozier’s biggest releases in years. Today we’re featuring “Empire Now”

1. Sza – r&b – 13 spins – highlighted hit: “F2F” off of the 2022 release “SOS”

Solána Imani Rowe, known as Sza, self-released her own EPs in the early 2010s, leading to a record deal and a career that has more than left its mark on today’s r&b world—there is a before CTRL,” and there is an after. Collaborations with artists like Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Lorde, Rihanna, and more, gave her notoriety even before her first full-length LP was out, “CTRL,” which received just as much acclaim as her second one from last year did, “SOS.”

Released right at the end of 2022 but still considered a 2023 record, “SOS” is the kind of instant-classic record that most of us here at KCSU can recall our first time listening to. The single “Kill Bill” has surpassed a billion streams on Spotify, with the rest of the tracks sitting at hundreds of millions each. The track we’re playing today is from “SOS,” it’s the slightly punkier “F2F”