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5 Songs To Discover In San Diego In May

Album art for Vákoum's new album, Linchpin, released Feb. 19, 2021.
Vákoum
Album art for Vákoum's new album, Linchpin, released Feb. 19, 2021.

We're listening to new music from San Diego's Vákoum, Kahlil Nash, Kori Gillis, Francisco Eme and The Strawberry Moons — plus a bonus show alert (!) for Carrie Feller and D.WREX.

Discover new music from San Diego acts, including Vákoum, Kahlil Nash, Kori Gillis, Francisco Eme and a new video from The Strawberry Moons, plus a bonus live music show alert (!) with Carrie Feller and D.WREX.

'Golden Love' By Vákoum

The San Diego-based experimental pop duo of Natalia Padilla and Kelli Rudick recently released "Linchpin," a sweeping, inventive and lush debut album on the heels of several years of EPs and live performances. Two of the tracks, "Spark" and "Airotic" have incredible new videos out, but I can't stop listening to "Golden Love," the latest single. The vocals are stunning and infectious against a textural backdrop of ethereal, electronic sounds, without feeling heavy-handed. The lyrics are fragmented, poetic and intense — and the track's place in the album feels like a cornerstone or the beating heart of an epic whole.

'Stolen' By Kahlil Nash

The 2021 San Diego Music Awards nominations just dropped this weekend, including several new categories like Best Video, and subdividing more general categories into pop, rock, and folk/acoustic. Some of the results are (as local music awards are wont to do) a bit predictable, but there's some new blood in the mix too. First-timer Kahlil Nash was nominated for best R&B, funk or soul album for his latest EP "Transcendence," released in November. It's a great 5-song release, but a standout for me is "Stolen," a lilting ballad that shows off Nash's effortless, versatile voice. The track is dreamy, with crunchy guitars layered over synth organ and a bright, summery dose of doo-wop background vocals. It's the kind of tune that made me want to quickly smash repeat to hear it all over again.

'The One Thing,' By Kori Gillis

Written by Alfred Howard and Quinn Deveaux, this is a late April release in the Alfred Howard Writes Songs With Friends series, and wow. "The One Thing" is an instant favorite for me from the 91-songs-and-counting catalogue of this ambitious project. Singer Kori Gillis, who is part of the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, delivers this soul anthem with plenty of power and heart. It's a love song, if a little mournful. And with a pared down production — no drums! — it's deceivingly simple, letting the song shine through. To paraphrase someone in the comments on Howard's Instagram: uh, Grammy Awards, listen up.

'Time' By Francisco Eme

Mexico City-born, San Diego-based Francisco Eme's new album, "Treatise on Violence" is a collection of experimental songs created using sounds taken from the Bread and Salt space in Logan Heights. Each piece is really distinct, separate movements in a larger work on the ways in which violence is inherent in society. "Time," the closing track, features mesmerizing vocals from Monica Camacho set to a gentle, curious noisescape. It's a reflection on incarceration, and what it does to the person's concept of time, whether the passage of time already in isolation, or the remainder. The vocals — gentle at first, just a solo, repeated vocalization of the word "time" — build up in feverish layers, for a somewhat transportive effect. Purchasing the album gets you access to the collection of sound samples, too. Eme, known to many in the regional art scene as The Front gallery director Francisco Morales, has an innovative and keen sense for a song.

'Love In The Time Of Virus' By The Strawberry Moons

Indie pop darlings The Strawberry Moons have released a new COVID-era video, "Love in the Time of Virus," which is a delight — warmly funny and devastatingly sad all at the same time. The video is a sort of unexpected time capsule for this strange period in our social and artistic history — nothing specific, but just that it's intimate, lonely, dark and not afraid to lean in to heartbreak (2020-2021, amirite?). Vocalist Aimee Jacobs adds a refined, melancholy charm to a song best listened to while shut away indoors.

VIDEO: 'Love in the Time of Virus' by The Strawberry Moons

BONUS: Carrie Feller / D.WREX Show Alert

I can't believe I get to write "show alert"! Carrie Feller and D.WREX will perform Sunday, May 9 in a free, double-billed, outdoor show at Sycamore Den. D.WREX goes on at 6 p.m. and Feller at 7 p.m. Space is limited. To commemorate, here's Feller's 2020 video for her "Damage Orbit" track. D.WREX makes an appearance dancing in the video (along with Christina Pesqueira and Forest Grove's Zack and Shelby Wentz).

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