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From Jimi Hendrix to Beyoncé, our post-DJathon charts are slaying

Plus Faye Webster, Chappell Roan, and more!!
From Jimi Hendrix to Beyoncé, our post-DJathon charts are slaying

“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. I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME – pop – 10 spins – highlighted hit: “Kiss & Tell” 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 DJ Fruit Bat’s fave from the record, “Kiss & Tell.”

9. Adrianne Lenker – alt/indie – 11 spins – highlighted hit: “Sadness as a Gift” 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.”

Our highlighted track today is in this vein: “Sadness as a Gift”

8. Sza – r&b – 13 spins – highlighted hit: the 2024 single “Saturn”

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 February’s single “Saturn,” her first release since the record!


7. Jimi Hendrix – rock – 14 spins – highlighted hit: “Red House” off of the 1967 release “Are You Experienced” 

Though the rise of Jimi Hendrix as a rock’n’roll superstar was meteoric, his beginning was more humble than it seemed, apprenticing in the r&b circuit as a backup guitarist, where he played for greats like Little Richard. With a tendency to steal the show, Hendrix emerged as a solo act in the mid sixties, creating the Jimi Hendrix Experience. His debut record, “Are You Experienced,” had an immediate impact on music (the ripples of which have yet to go fully still).

Hendrix’s passing is another moment in music history where one of the greatest musicians of all time was lost tragically early, but his music continues to keep his torch burning. Hendrix is probably in the top of our gems this week because of KCSU’s DJ-athon last week, where our spins get a little more exciting! Our very own DJ Webz is a big fan, and it’s likely their influence as well. Our highlighted hit is the closing track of “Are You Experienced,” the track “Red House.”

6. Chappell Roan – pop – 15 spins – highlighted hit: “Red Wine Supernova” off of the September 2023 release “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess”

Chappell Roan
has been writing and releasing her own music since she got her start on YouTube as a teenager in 2017, an internet-led “dark pop” princess whose word-of-mouth success began with her track, “Pink Pony Club,” going viral on TikTok in 2021. Building a further following from accompanying artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Fletcher on tour, Roan became known for her camp (self-made) outfits and unapologetically glittery pop music. Her debut record, “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess,” sees Roan really coming into her own sonically and aesthetically, met with praise from critics and fans alike.

Roan recently performed here last week, a peromance which was attended by multiple KCSU DJs who adored the show! Our highlighted hit this week is the single that people can’t seem to ever stop playing, “Red Wine Supernova.”

5. Tennis – pop – 15 spins – highlighted hit: “Island Music” 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 is one of their sadder tracks, though one you still want to do-do-do along with: “Island Music.”

4. Childish Gambino – r&b – 16 spins – highlighted hit: “Me & Your Mama” off of the 2016 release “Awaken, My Love!”

Childish Gambino is the moniker for Donald Glover, a burning star of talent whether he’s acting, singing, rapping, writing, producing, or whatever creative endeavors he sets his heart on. Chances are you’re familiar with his work in one (if not all) of these arenas. Glover got his start in the comedy scene, doing stand-up and acting in shows like the sitcom Community, working on his music in the meantime (with prophetic early bars like “Man / why does every black actor gotta rap some? I dunno, all I know is I’m the best one” off of 2011’s “Bonfire.” 

Glover recently announced new music for the first time since 2020,hosting a “GILGA radio” themed Instagram live this past Sunday and, earlier this year, announcing two final projects under the “Childish Gambino” moniker. Today we’re playing the track “Me & Your Mama” from 2016’s “Awaken, My Love!” — a song even better live. 

3. Hozier – folk – 20 spins – highlighted hit: “Wildflower and Barley” featuring Allison Russell 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. We’re featuring a chiller collaboration for the spring weather, though — “Wildflower and Barley” featuring Allison Russell.

2. Faye Webster – alt/indie – 20 spins – highlighted hit: “But Not Kiss” 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 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 an ode to, well, not kissing: “But Not Kiss”

1. Beyonce – country – 21 spins – highlighted hit: “AMERIICAN REQUIEM” 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. “Renaissance” 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 the opening track to the album, the powerful “AMERIICAN REQUIEM”