This week’s World Cafe: Next artist is 31-year-old Minnesotan Haley Bonar. She was discovered at 19 by Alan Sparhawk of Low at an open mic in Duluth, Minn., and is about to release her fifth album, Last War. Download “Last War” and “No Sensitive Man” here via nprmusic.
PERFECT|MIDNIGHT|WORLD // Favorite Albums of 2014 (so far)
When the year started, I felt like there was a deluge of strong singles (that list coming next), but great albums seemed to be trickling out at a snail’s pass. Now, six months later, I think it’s safe to say that the two have evened out, as I could have easily made this list three times as large without much trouble. Of course, it’s easy to fall in love with an album on a couple of listens and then slowly forget it’s existence as more new sounds find their way to your rotation. That’s why as I shrunk my favorites list down to twenty for this mid-year round-up, I focused on the albums that have maintained or have shattered expectations. Look over this list, I see two albums in particular that I imagine will be in my top five at year’s end - barring something truly remarkable happening. One of those albums is not such a surprise as I’ve been a huge supporter of the artist since he launched his career back in 2010, with the experimental lo-fi, bedroom R&B classic “Love Remains” - How to Dress Well’s “What is this Heart?” lived up to the promise and landed with an emotional wallop that I’m still absorbed within. The other album came from out of nowhere and caught me completely off guard with it’s “Twin Peaks” inspired take on some stunning mix of new wave, folk, and dark pop - and that album is Haley Bonar’s brilliant “Last War”.
Outside of those two albums, any of these choices could be number three at this point. It’s been a rich six months of music that has fueled me creatively (Alcest, Ought, and The War on Drugs), entertained me thoroughly (Kevin Drew, Future Islands, and Tycho), and even did the me the honor of being genuinely moving and thought provoking (Haley Bonar, Gem Club, The Antlers, and How to Dress Well). I won’t bother with individual critiques at this stage in the year - just some links to stream the albums on Spotify if you’re inclined (please seek out and buy what makes you happy so they will have funds to keep making you happy). I can’t promise that you’ll love everything equally, but i can’t imagine that you’ll find yourself disappointed in the least.