Song of the Day: Haley Bonar – Candy Machine Gun

photo by Louisa Podlich

This week we’re doing something a little different for our Song of the Day podcasts. We’re teaming up with 89.3 The Current, in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, to swap songs. Like KEXP, The Current is a strong supporter of independent music and their local music scene. Like Seattle, the Twin Cities has always had a strong vibrant local music community. We thought it would be fun to share some of the best new music being created in each city as part of their Local Music Exchange series. Tune in to KEXP at 4:30pm PST each afternoon this week to hear Kevin Cole exchange songs with the Current’s Mark Wheat. We’ll find there’s more to Minnesota music than Prince, Husker Du, and the Replacements. Today’s featured song is “Candy Machine Gun” by Haley Bonar from her 2011 album, Golder, on Grimsey Records

Haley Bonar – Candy Machine Gun (MP3)

Raised in the Black Hills of South Dakota, migrated to St. Paul Minnesota, and rubbed elbows with the dreamy indie musicians of Low, Haley Bonar released her debut in 2003 on Alan Sparhawk’s own label. Good fortune landed her in the presence of Sparhawk, and he offered her a spot as an opener on Low’s upcoming tour, and the young singer/songwriter got her start. Since then, she has worked with many more accomplished musicians in the area such as Andrew Bird and Mary Lou Lord. Usually accompanied with an acoustic guitar and an electric piano, Haley Bonar delivers a delicate yet haunting expansive atmosphere of folk.

Mesmerized and inspired by the mountains and oceanic surroundings in Portland, Oregon, Bonar rented a place and set up shop for a few months while she wrote her latest album, Golder. There, she wiled away the equally inspirational rainy days while working on her latest songs. Soon she moved back to Minneapolis, feeling the lure of home and the wonderful people she wanted to record with, and began recording. To fund the project, Bonar signed on to a then-unorthodox way (but increasingly more common) way to make the album reality: by launching a Kickstarter campaign that enticed fans to donate to the cause in exchange for gifts and privileges. Fans showed their support and new ones were born, and the outstanding support led to the Golder release last April.

Today’s featured song, “Candy Machine Gun,” is an expansive tune and is evocative of the landscapes Bonar has traversed. Her soothing, caramelized voice has a warmth, weight and twang that expertly avoids cliche or easy comparison. The steadfastness in the guitar compliments her mercurial vocals that touch on the influence of Mary Lou Lord and the folkier elements of Jenny Lewis. The sweeping chorus builds bigger and bigger with each passing phrase in the studio version, and the acoustic version is just as captivating. Check out the video below of her playing live in the studio at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul KFAI radio. Bonar will be touring throughout the U.S. this summer, swinging by the Sunset Tavern on Friday, August 12, with Holcombe Waller and Mia Doi Todd. For a complete list of tour dates check out her MySpace page.

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  1. Medusa
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I really love this song! thanks for posting!! XD

  2. Suz Strick
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Kevin for this great musical exchange. Haley is a friend and we are all cheering her on for this album and Summer’s tour! She’ll be in Seattle/PDX in August. With KEXP and the Current together you can’t go wrong!

  3. donnadoolittle
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    if you want some kickass MN selections rather than the more main-stream indy examples selected for this exchange, try Chooglin or Communist Daughter. trust me – you’ll thank me.

  4. Christy Parker
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t exactly classify haley as ‘mainstream’- she’s been working hard for a long time and releasing interesting music that is highly praised in MN but has been slow to catch elsewhere. Glad KEXP is giving her some deserved attention!

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