Tag Archives: Dear Nora

Better Know A College Radio Station: Portland’s KPSU


For many obsessive fans who grew up in the pre-Internet era, a passion for music was sparked in the dingy basements and dark booths of college radio stations. Despite sound boards that are decades out of date and rapidly-changing tastes, that tradition has endured. The best college stations remain dedicated to delivering music that falls outside the purview of Billboard-charting mainstream radio.

If anything, the shifting climate has caused student station managers and music directors to work harder at keeping their stations relevant. And with good reason: at the radio station, they found comrades with whom they could trade mixtapes and stay up late into the night raving about life-changing B-sides.

Bandcamp speaks from personal experience: even if our first shows were at 4am on Tuesday nights, they were the best two hours of our entire week. In this feature called Better Know a College Radio Station, we spotlight the programmers, music directors and general managers who make sure the “On-Air” light never burns out. Last month, we chatted with DJs and managers at Seton Hall’s 89.5 WSOU and this month we spoke with Maia Wiseman (Station Manager), Joe Hernandez (Programming Director), and Jordan Rasmussen, Promotions Director of Portland State University’s KUPS.

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Dear Nora Returns to “Mountain Rock”

Dear Nora

Dear Nora by Chris Lael Larson

In the liner notes for the reissue of her indie-pop masterpiece Mountain Rock, Dear Nora’s Katy Davidson writes that she set out to make an album about “bliss and terror.” And, indeed, Mountain Rock is an album that constantly oscillates between extremes. Starry-eyed lo-fi anthem “Give Me Some Of Yr Love” stops on a dime, seamlessly transitioning into the terrifying, atonal “West Nile!!”; the gorgeous pop morsel “People Don’t You Know” gives way to the melancholia of “Suicide Song.” Closer “Love Song For My Friends” starts off homesick and sadly strummed, before spontaneously erupting into a sloppy, front porch sing-along. Ultimately, Mountain Rock’s dizzying nature is what makes it feel so human. In its songs, elation and heartbreak are two sides of the same dirty penny.

In 2008, Davidson moved back to her “honorary hometown” of Portland, OR after living in California for seven years, and disbanded Dear Nora. She’s been recording and performing under the name Key Losers since 2009. But lately, there’s been renewed interest in the project, due in part to praise from leading indie acts like Joyce Manor and Girlpool (who like Dear Nora so much that they named a song on their debut after them).

Chicago’s Orindal Records have recently reissued Mountain Rock, and Davidson is supporting the record’s first ever vinyl release by embarking on a short, west-coast tour with Dear Nora—her first with the project in nearly a decade. We had the opportunity to speak with Davidson about Mountain Rock, her thoughts on returning to the band after all this time, and more.

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