5 Songs To Discover In San Diego In April
We’re listening to new music from San Diego acts Lein, D.WREX, J. Breckenridge, Twin Ritual and Kelly Einbinder. Plus, a shout out to the music in each episode of the Parker Edison Project.
'Spoons' By Lein
Annie Lein's latest EP, "Black Sheep," is pared down and lovely. Sparse keyboards form a subtle soundscape, leaving plenty of room for Lein's vocals and dreamy harmonies — somehow both delicate and strong, apathetic and urgent at the same time. "Spoons" is the opener, and it spotlights Lein's knack for lyrical scene setting. It's somewhere between vignette, memory and photograph, and full of that variety of sadness that's as specific as it is indistinct. The entire EP has a runtime of barely even seven minutes, and it's worth every unassuming second.
'Spirits' By D.WREX
"Operatic noise-rock" is the self-professed descriptor for D.Wrex's work, and it's hard to top that perfect summation. D.WREX has a new self-titled EP out on the always-dependable So Cal label Volar Records, and yes, it can be noisy. My favorite is the opener, "Spirits," a melodic and powerful ballad that's on the more theatrical side of metal. D.WREX's voice brings a bewitching serving of beauty and maybe a little threat, but it refuses to be boxed into a genre — in a good way. You don't like metal? Fine, you might still like this. You don't like lyrical sweetness? Fine again, listen anyway. We're left with a sort of breathless wonderment: What was that? The track fades out with the line "I will always be queen," repeated, and it feels right.
'Y.O.U.' By J. Breckenridge
Broadway actor and San Diego native Josh Breckenridge has a forthcoming pop album, "Monotony," on its way this summer. He's been spending time at his family's home in Fallbrook while the Broadway production of "Come From Away" is on hold, and has released a few singles so far. In reading the lyrics before listening to the latest single, "Y.O.U.," I thought I knew what the song would feel like — it's about accepting and loving oneself — but the raw, clever and honest video had me transfixed. It's absolutely fun and shows off Breckenridge's top-notch acting, dance and vocal talents. The tune is heartfelt and the harmonies add a dash of musical theater.
'Metaphor' By Twin Ritual
This January, indie band Twin Ritual put out a new single, "Metaphor," one of three tracks since their 2018 debut EP, "Hand Through The Mist." Twin Ritual was formed by Laura Levenhagen (of Le Chateau) and bassist Anthony Ramirez (of Glass Spells) about five years ago. "Metaphor" is energized and buzzing, with Levenhagen's vocals bringing a crystalline and fervent touch. Props also go to the excellent use of a bridge — always underrated. It's a sonically complex song but the whole is approachable and kind of a banger. A sad, synthy banger.
'Under The Belly Of A Whale," By Kelly Einbinder
Improvisational music blows my mind in general — but pianist Kelly Einbinder will release an album, "Music For Stuck Bodies," on April 9, and it was recorded in a single take. Amazing. The first segment is out now for a preview, and it is spellbinding and lovely. Her performance is intense, but also lets up so we can breathe and settle in. The power is never unrelenting. Einbinder wrote in the album notes about how the piano has been a respite from chronic illness for much of her life, since discovering it as a college student. Mystery and curiosity pack every second of this nearly eight minute piece, and I can't wait to listen to the full album.
BONUS: If you're not listening to The Parker Edison Project, our newest KPBS podcast, you're missing out on so much great music. I've been listening to OPOETIK recently thanks to a P.E.P. recommendation. This isn't that recent, but here's his excellent 2019 video for "Overthinking," which features Ric Scales and was part of the soundtrack to our KPBS "Where I Come From" series.
You can find a Spotify playlist of most of these tracks here.