Local Current Blog

Local Radar: Brute Heart, Bora York, and VANDAAM

Local Radar highlights bands that the local team at The Current is spinning heavily at their desks. You’ll be able to preview a track from each as well as hear them on The Local Show and Local Current. This week, we’re on the road to the Chippewa Valley talking about bands that we’ll be featuring on the Local Show this Sunday night.

Brute Heart
Brute Heart released one of 2011’s best and overlooked records with Lonely Hunter, a collection of songs that really honed in and focused the trio’s style. Then Brute Heart took a little time off, coming back in a big way just a few weeks ago when they presented their months-in-the-making score for the German Expressionist film The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari at the Walker Art Center. By all accounts, the composition was a fitting tribute to the classic film (and as a sidenote, they’ll be performing it again at the Cedar Cultural Center on Friday, October 19).

There’s further good news on the Brute Heart horizon: we’re getting a new 7” from the group via Portland’s Water Wing Records, which has done releases for Tyvek, Psychic Feline and others. The A-side is what you can stream below in the form of “Wildfire.” Characteristically brooding, the tempo is slowed down a bit and the arrangement is the most confident I’ve ever heard Brute Heart sound. Those who have seen them live know how difficult their interlocking parts are; with this piece, it sounds like a piece of cake.

The 7” was recorded by Mike Wisti at Albatross and features a B-side remix of “Wildfire” by Alex Yusimov and Jason Powers, two guys who have worked with the likes of Mirah, Grass Widow, and Scout Niblett. You know it’s gotta be good.

Stream: Brute Heart – “Wildfirefrom Wildfire 7″

Bora York

Bora York is ridiculously promising for being so early in their career. You know when you hear something and you have that “Ah-ha!” moment? It seems that a lot of people are having the same reaction to the band’s debut single, “Close Your Eyes.”

The husband-wife duo of Chris and Rebekah Bartels are prepping the release of debut album, Dreaming Free. And it certainly is a dreamy affair, invoking M83 in many respects with the two voices interlocking into soaring harmonies. Perhaps Bora York has such immediate appeal because of the team which has been helping them: Lance Conrad of Van Stee and the Humans Win! Recording Studio, Brian Tighe of The Hang Ups and Jeremy Messersmith’s band, and local engineer and producer Josiah Kosier. I’m sure all three helped to bring this music to life.

But in the end, it’s quite obvious that the Bartels have a distinct idea of what kind of music they want to make, what they want their lyrics to represent, and how they want people to feel after listening. I’m excited to see the reaction from the community when this record drops. It’s pure, no-frills dream-pop.

Stream: Bora York – “Close Your Eyes” from Dreaming Free


Among the many good things which came out of our Eau Claire episode of the Local Show was the discovery of VANDAAM. A side project of SloSlyLove, the Chippewa Valley’s dance master genius across the border, this I-94 trio consists additionally of Adriana and Adept.

And that’s about all we know. Recordings are limited, with just two songs posted on their Bandcamp. “Speak To Me,” in particular, is a fuzzier version of Polica — real drums are replaced by beat machines, but the aesthetic is pretty similar. VANDAAM is a much more relaxed incarnation, and as SloSlyLove continues to make his debut in the Twin Cities, I think we’ll be hearing much more this other group as well.

Stream: VANDAAM – “Speak To Me,” a new single