Local Current Blog

Haley Bonar, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, Fort Wilson Riot, Two Harbors, and more Minnesota record releases this week

Haley Bonar. Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR.

Haley Bonar: Last War

Haley Bonar has always been an expert in blending sweetness and darkness, of finding that delicate balance between hard and soft. On Last War, this relationship is clearer and more developed than ever, as Bonar goes big and bold with production, but keeps her trademark vocals and gorgeously earnest lyrics. The album’s title track builds with percussion thumps and harmonies to a gigantic chorus, while “No Sensitive Man” rings out with a pop-rock smirk.  Last War marks Bonar’s fifth full-length release and her second with Graveface Records, and for a limited time you can stream the whole thing with The Current’s First Listen. The record won’t officially be released until next Tuesday, May 20, but Bonar will be playing a release show for Last War this Friday, May 16 at the Varsity Theater with special guests Anonymous Choir and DJ Shannon Blowtorch.

Koo Koo Kanga Roo: Whoopty Whoop

Not to slight the other releases in this bunch, but I just think that Bryan (Bryan!) and Neil (Neil!) are the coolest people I (I!) I (I!) know. The two guys behind interactive dance party duo Koo Koo Kanga Roo have spent the last few years taking their high-energy act around the country, self-releasing tunes for kids of all ages along the way. Now, on their first release with a label—Asian Man Records’ family label FUN FUN—Bryan and Neil present Whoopty Whoop, out today. The record contains confessions of love for cake, pizza, and unibrows, plenty of opportunities for dancing, and even an appearance by P.O.S. on “Shake it Well,” a groovy old-school rap track about orange juice. Koo Koo Kanga Roo are currently on tour with the Aquabats, but will be back to the Twin Cities for a double-header of record release shows at Amsterdam Bar and Hall, Sunday, May 25 (one all-ages show at noon, and one 18+ show in the evening). Don’t forget to bring your fanny packs—and in the meantime, hear “Shake it Well” on our blog and read my profile of this dynamic duo.

Fort Wilson Riot: trilliun

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In a whirlwind of sound references to surf pop, R&B, ambient, and more, Fort Wilson Riot’s new full-length, trilliun, out today, is a sonic experiment gone oh-so-right. The two-piece band comprises Amy Hager and Jacob Mullis, who share vocal, compositional, and instrumental duties on the record, and whose synergy is seamless from start to finish. Trilliun opens with the record’s single, “Something Left Alive,” which layers Hager and Mullis’s dreamy harmonies over thoughtfully affected horns. Imagine the sweetness of Cults, but heavy on the psychedelia. Fort Wilson Riot will celebrate the release of trilliun with a release show at the Triple Rock Social Club, Saturday, May 24, with C. Kostra, LaLiberte, and DJ Minnie Blanco.

Sam Cassidy split 7”

Serving as a preview to his forthcoming LP, Americana singer-songwriter Sam Cassidy presents a split 7”, featuring “Tell Him,” a twangy, evocative rock tune. Cassidy’s vocals are reminiscent of early Jay Farrar, and All Night Crayons—a band including members of Charn, All Tomorrow’s Petty, and more—back him up with no-nonsense alt-country instrumentals. “Tell Him” is also accompanied by “Sleeper Car” and an alternate version of “Hard Road,” a b-side from Cassidy’s future full-length, both available for digital download. Cassidy’s split 7” is out now, and Cassidy will perform a release show on Friday, May 30 at the Turf Club with the Farewell Circuit.

Animal Lover: Guilt

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Representing the loudest end of this week’s local releases, Fargo-via-St.-Paul noise punks Animal Lover present their latest 12” release, Guilt, out Thursday, May 15 on Learning Curve Records: the dark, high-octane home to other local rock acts like Disasteratti and Gay Witch Abortion. Guilt is a vicious, crunchy six-song effort from Animal Lover with generous guitar riffs, deliberate yet reckless percussion, and ambitious, aggressive vocals. “Fits of Protein,” a highlight of the record, begins with rhythmic, abrasive strums and then bursts into a surprisingly infectious composition, ending with a wail of “I don’t think you understand!” Animal Lover will release Guilt with a release show at the Turf Club on Thursday, May 15, with performances by STNNNG, Solid Attidude, and Les Dux Magots.

Two Harbors: The Natural Order of Things

On their second full-length, The Natural Order of Things, out today, four-piece rock group Two Harbors (who are not actually based in Two Harbors, the town) have crafted ten songs that see both the sunny and anthemic sides of rock and roll. The Natural Order of Things is full of huge choruses (and verses and bridges, for that matter), shimmering riffs, and hi-fi production. Guitarist Kris Johnson even shows his stuff on a few psychedelic rock-influenced solos. Two Harbors will release The Natural Order of Things with a release show at Cause Spirits and Soundbar on Friday, May 16, with special guests BNLX, Fury Things, and Stereo Confession. Until then, you can also check out Two Harbors’ live performance in The Current studios and their informative chat with DJ David Campbell.

KT Lindemann is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Morris, pursuing studio art and Spanish. She is a native of the Twin Cities and is a wannabe musician, artist, and music writer.