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On Air Next: Shintaro Sakamoto, Stereolab, Lizzy Mercier Descloux and Nick Drake shaped a college journey

Music director says goodbye to CU Boulder’s Radio 1190

“Let’s Dance Raw” by Shintaro Sakamoto
“Let’s Dance Raw” by Shintaro Sakamoto

In one week, I will be graduating and beginning my life in the so-called “real world.” My four years at CU have been memorable to say the least, and I will be taking everything I’ve learned and experienced in college with me into the next chapter of my life. During this time, I’ve had a personal renaissance in my own world of music, seeing hundreds — maybe thousands — of live shows and exploring new genres that I now can’t live without. For my departing column, I want to share some of the albums that stuck with me most. I hope they resonate with you as much as they did with me.

During my whacky, uncomfortable freshman year, I discovered and constantly came back to Shintaro Sakamoto’s “Let’s Dance Raw.” The album is slow, groovy, melodic and comforting in a quirky way. Throughout the album, there is a recurring theme of Hawaiian-esque slide guitar licks that add a hula feeling to the experience. The guitars are jangly, the bass lines are bouncy and the synths are textured; the album is an absolute pleasure to listen to. I found myself hiding away in my dorm room, dreaming of warm, faraway beaches while enduring my first freezing Colorado winter away from my home state of Texas.

  • “Dots and Loops” by Stereolab

    “Dots and Loops” by Stereolab

  • “Best Off” by Lizzy Mercier Descloux

    “Best Off” by Lizzy Mercier Descloux

  • “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake

    “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake



Sophomore year was the year I started going to house shows and really dove into music. The most memorable album I had the pleasure of discovering was Stereolab’s “Dots and Loops.” This album now has permanent residence as a CD in my car and is something I can’t go a week without listening to. “Dots and Loops” is heavily jazz influenced, psychedelic and absolutely unique. The repeated vocal melodies spin in circles while the keys play unheard-of chord progressions, and the drums and bass glue everything together. If you listen closely, you’ll find that almost none of their songs are in the 4/4 time signature, but the atypical time signatures they use never feel out of place. My personal favorite song on the album is the 17-minute “Refractions in the Plastic Pulse,” a journey of a song no one should miss out on.

During junior year, I joined a dance noise-rock band and swam neck deep in the local music scene. My biggest inspiration of the year was Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s “Best Off.” A compilation of her best work released by Ze Records in 2006, it is full of classic no-wave dance rock that I believe everyone should listen to at least 10 times while dancing in their room. Lizzy made giant strides in the no-wave genre throughout the ’80s, drawing influences from the Paris punk scene and African dance beats. Her vocals are energetic, her guitar licks are inventive and there’s a driving, sometimes polyrhythmic beat to add even more depth.

During my final year at CU, I finally calmed down a bit and spent a lot of time listening to Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon.” The entirety of this album consists of only Nick Drake and his oddly tuned acoustic guitar, and it doesn’t need anything more. Every song floods out emotions. Drake’s voice is soft and sweet, authentically conveying complex feelings that can be expressed only alongside the beautiful, deliberate and emotionally driven guitar melodies. Released in 1972, this album is melancholy and somehow both hopeful and devastating simultaneously.

I have been lucky to have such an incredible musical journey these four years, and I know I will be carrying all this music with me into my next chapter.

Koett is a music director at Radio 1190. Read more reviews: