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Arts & Culture

5 Songs To Discover In San Diego In March

The cassette cover for Wspgrl's new album, "Remember" features artwork by regional artist Marina Grize.
Wsprgrl
The cassette cover for Wspgrl's new album, "Remember" features artwork by regional artist Marina Grize.

We're listening to new music from Thee Sacred Souls, Wsprgrl, EST, Sarah Hennies and Karima Walker.

2021 has already been a great year for music releases, despite the fact that we are now closing in on a year without our beloved live music venues or touring. But new music prevails, and I'm here for it all. Here's a roundup of tracks that have been on my radar recently, from locals Thee Sacred Souls, Wsprgrl and EST, plus a recent work by erstwhile San Diego contemporary composer Sarah Hennies — Hennies is on my radar because Project [BLANK] and The Front will present her critically acclaimed "Contralto" project later this month. And to round things out, an artsy new track from Tucson's Karima Walker.

'It's Our Love' by Thee Sacred Souls

The latest work from self-described "souldies" group Thee Sacred Souls is, unsurprisingly, a great one. The San Diego-based trio was featured in our KPBS Summer Music Series last year, and have received quite the reception after just a few years of playing music together. They're signed to the powerhouse label Daptone Records, and as we await a full-length from them, they just put out a few singles. The two-track release for the "Will I See You Again?" single also includes "It's Our Love," and in late January, they put out a video for it. The track is wistful and lush, and the video — simple as it may be — was like a taste of long-missed live performances, and that special energy of being in the room with a band.

VIDEO: 'It's Our Love' by Thee Sacred Souls

'Remember' by Wsprgrl

San Diego-based project Wsprgrl (Patrick Heaney and Cara Potiker) have a new three-track release, which includes the title track "Remember." It's a high-energy, sparkling synth-pop song that could as easily be rocked from a major stage as it could from a dark and smoky corner of an art house. Keep your eye on Wsprgrl. And if you're lucky, you can nab one of the remaining limited-run cassette tapes with art from Marina Grize.

'Smoke Fetish' by EST

EST has a new album forthcoming in April, and they've released the first single, "Smoke Fetish." I first got to know this band when they released last year's "The Everies," and really love their dreamy, dark-wave style. Plenty of synth and shoegaze elements in "Smoke Fetish," but it's really elevated by the crystal-clear vocals. It's as goth as it is shimmering, and this is a really mesmerizing track.

'Window I' by Karima Walker

Tucson-based interdisciplinary artist Karima Walker is informed by her work in dance, sculpture, creative writing, film and photography. Walker described her brand new album as a "dream narrative," and my favorite track is "Window I." It's poetic and layered, and is both a beautiful, singular listen and something that's essentially part of a larger whole. The sound design alone is incredible. It's close to nine minutes long, peppered with ambient recordings and sonic experimentation, but the indie-rock songwriting shines through to make it palatable. Walker's songwriting feels rich and evocative, like a story. In writing workshops we're told things like "put me in the room with you," and this song puts us right there in the window seat alongside her.

'Spectral Malsconcities' by Sarah Hennies

This month, Project [BLANK] will present a multidisciplinary performance of contemporary composer Sarah Hennies' recent work, "Contralto," which explores the work of trans women vocalists through an experimental narrative documentary and live instrumental performance. The program will take place as part of "Domestic Geographies," the 14th annual Día de la Mujer exhibition at The Front Arte & Cultura in San Ysidro. Hennies — who studied music at UC San Diego with notable percussionist Steven Schick — put out this album of commissioned works in October. The title track, "Spectral Malsconcities," was written for the Bearthoven trio and clocks in at about thirty minutes. But don't let that scare you away; the piece is broken up into several distinct movements, and both on a movement-by-movement level and as a whole composition, it's really beautiful and inquisitive work. Plus, the album landed a nod on the New Yorker's list of 10 notable recordings of 2020.

Join the conversation: Tell us what you're listening to in our KPBS/Arts Facebook group. And be sure to follow KPBS on Spotify for monthly new music playlists like these, our Influential series and more.