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Arts & Culture

6 Songs To Discover In San Diego In August

Musician Lyra Pramuk released a debut album in late March.
George Nebieridze
Musician Lyra Pramuk released a debut album in late March.

We're listening to new music from EST, Chauncey Maynor, Carrie Feller, Hllndr, Lyra Pramuk, Kenseth Thibideau and Pea Hicks.

San Diego musicians have served up some great new work throughout the quarantine despite having very few opportunities to perform and share their work with live audiences. Here’s a few artists that caught my attention this month, plus some work by out-of-town acts that we’d generally see touring or in the summer festival circuit right now. From shoegaze to rap to pop to Americana to experimental electronica, here’s six new songs to check out right now.

'Damage Orbit' by Carrie Feller

Just released last month, Carrie Feller's much-anticipated return to solo work, "Damage Orbit," delivers everything we love about Feller's other projects like Hexa and Hours, but allows her to really play with and explore her individual sound and inspirations. Feller told me she had been really influenced by pop music when making this album, even though she'd avoided pop for much of her life in favor of punk or metal. The result is a dark, twisted study of sound, vulnerability and the way Feller blurs the line between goth and dance music — particularly on the title track "Damage Orbit," the EP's most upbeat, synth-infused offering. "What a show/what a show it is," she proclaims. Yes.

'Black America' by Chauncey Maynor

Local rapper and R&B performer Chauncey Maynor's four-song EP, "Black America," dropped in late June. Each track is fresh and different — from melodic jams to driving, mantra-like anthems — but each contains a powerful story, and in that way, they're each a kind of individual protest. "Black America," the title track, features P.smoov and Queen Kandi Cole on vocals, and it samples a Martin Luther King, Jr speech.

'Every Angel' by EST

Local band EST released a three-track EP, "The Everies," in late March. One of the comments on this album on Bandcamp says "I was dreaming of this band in 2002. Glad they finally materialized in 2020," and I have to agree. There's something distinctly shoegazey about the yearning melodies here, particularly in "Every Angel," but sonically, the music has a veneer that's at once timeless and prime for right now. Each track on this EP seems to feed the rest, so it's hard to listen to just one.

'Greatest Thrill' by Hllndr

I first heard about North County's Hllndr because of the popular driveway concerts she launched during quarantine. She'd resumed performing on patios and outdoor dining rooms of local breweries and restaurants when businesses started to reopen, but after the new rounds of closures, she turned to residential driveways.

Her debut release is a five-track EP, "From the Ashes," which came out in January. Hllndr, a San Marcos native, has an Americana sound for sure, but there's also a dash of soul. Lush and curious songwriting showcases a powerful vocal range. "Greatest Thrill," is a chill standout, evoking a bit of Florence Welch. (But for something a little more raucous — and explicit lyrics-laden — start with the opening track, “Fire.”)

'The Science' by Butterflies

Butterflies, a project of locals Kenseth Thibideau and Pea Hicks, put out a prolific 24-track release, "Cocoon Tunes" in early July, recorded entirely from their homes during quarantine. Each track is pretty short — some barely scraping past the one-minute mark — but jam packed with strangeness, curiosity and musical adventure to feed our quarantined minds. "The Science" is a catchy but unsettling track, with a sole line of lyrics repeating as layers of electronic hum, buzz and piercing synths build around it. There's an undercurrent of sadness, for sure, but the good news is the track is well-bolstered by 23 others of varying lightness and delightful absurdity.

'Witness," by Lyra Pramuk

Since we're missing out on discovering touring artists lately, here's a track from classically trained vocalist Lyra Pramuk's new album, "Fountains," released in late March. The US-born, Berlin-based musician had to cancel her US tour.

The album's entire instrumentation is Pramuk's vocals, layered and at times distorted, mixing soft, low bass lines with crystal-clear, piercing descants. "Witness," the opening track, feels as much a fine work of contemporary composition as it does a mesmerizing club culture track. It's a gorgeous introduction to an album that envelops and transports. Pramuk has an honest and frank vulnerability — particularly on her Instagram — about being a trans vocalist, and I loved this recent Pitchfork profile about this new album and Pramuk's art.

You can listen to a partial playlist of these tracks on our KPBS Spotify profile. What are you listening to? Join the conversation in the KPBS/Arts Facebook group.