Haley Bonar

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Haley Bonar
Background information
Born 1983
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
Origin Rapid City, South Dakota, United States
Genres Folk
Indie rock
Labels Memphis Industries GNDWIRE Records
Associated acts Low, Andrew Bird, Sleepfarmer, Gramma's Boyfriend
Website Official website
Members Jacob Hanson, Jeremy Hanson, Kate Murray, Jeremy Ylvisaker, Eric Pollard, Al Church
Past members Alan Sparhawk, Chris Morrissey, Jim Boquist, Dave King
Notable instruments
Fender Rhodes keyboard
1957 Guild acoustic guitar

Haley Bonar (born 1983, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada)[1] is a Canadian-born American singer-songwriter who was raised in Rapid City, South Dakota.[2] She has lived in Duluth[3] and St. Paul, Minnesota. She currently lives in St. Paul.[4] In 2009, she moved to Portland, Oregon,[5] where she spent a year writing songs for her album Golder,[6] which was released April 19, 2011.[7] She plays acoustic guitar, baritone electric guitar, electric guitar and rhodes or wurlitzer organ, either solo or with her Twin Cities-based band, including Jeremy Ylvisaker, Robert Skoro, and Jacob Hanson.

Life and work[edit]

In 2003 Bonar's album . . . The Size of Planets (Chairkicker's Union) received favorable reviews in the Twin Cities press. The album spawned the single "Am I Allowed," which was played on college radio stations. Bonar was 20 years old when the album was released, and did a number of tours with Duluth band Low upon its release. She also toured with Mason Jennings, Richard Buckner, Rivulets and Mary Lou Lord, who was also, for a time, Bonar's manager.

In 2006 she released the album Lure the Fox, originally on Mary Ellen Recordings, whose owner, Mary Lewis, decided to help Bonar pay to record the album at Pachyderm Studio after reading a Star Tribune article about her in 2005. Dave King of Happy Apple and The Bad Plus plays drums, Chris Morrissey plays bass, and the album features Low's Alan Sparhawk on the track "Give it Up." Also on that track is David Frankenfeld, Bonar's former drummer, who played on The Size of Planets. One year after Lure the Fox was recorded, Bonar signed with local label Afternoon Records, who then released the album nationally in October 2006.

Lure the Fox earned Bonar two Minnesota Music Awards, one for Best American Roots recording, and another for Best American Roots artist. The album also topped many Twin Cities year-end favorite lists, including those of the Star Tribune, City Pages, The Onion, and Pulse magazine. Bonar was also featured on the cover of Metro magazine.[8]

Big Star, released in June 2008 on Afternoon Records, gained Bonar a broader audience with songs like "Big Star," "Green Eyed Boy," and "Arms of Harm," which was featured on the credits for an episode of Showtime's The United States of Tara.

Bonar is featured on the 2007 Andrew Bird record Armchair Apocrypha and has frequently shared the stage with Bird over the past five years. She sang on the feature song "Quiet Breathing" from the independent film Sweet Land, directed by fellow Minnesotan Ali Selim. In recent years, she has also collaborated with Actual Wolf and Gary Louris.

In 2009, Bonar's move from St. Paul to Portland, Oregon was noted by City Pages.[9] She returned to the St. Paul in July 2010 and again became very active in the Twin Cities music scene. Upon completion of her album Golder, released in 2011,[10] she also started a side project band called Gramma's Boyfriend, a "no-wave, new wave, punkish kind of thing that sounds like the Twin Peaks High School prom band." Jeremy Ylvisaker (Andrew Bird, Alpha Consumer, Guitar Party), Jacob Hanson (Halloween, Alaska, Guitar Party, Minneapolis Dub Ensemble), Haley Bonar, Luke Anderson (Rogue Valley, Alpha Centauri), and Mike Lewis (Happy Apple, Fat Kid Wednesdays, Andrew Bird, Gayngs) are all members of Gramma's Boyfriend, though the band's website states that "sometimes they all play together, sometimes its whoever shows up."[11] They have released two albums on Graveface Records, 2013's Human Eye[12] and 2015's Perm.[13]

After two and a half years of writing and recording,[14] Bonar release the album Last War in May 2014.[15] The album earned widespread critical acclaim, with Stephen Thompson of NPR calling Bonar "a bright, subtle storyteller, [who] displays a mastery of pop-rock craftsmanship that keeps these songs as relentlessly catchy on the surface as they are alluringly complex underneath."[16] SPIN lauded the track "No Sensitive Man" as "dynamic, demanding,"[17] while Consequence of Sound stated that "Bonar creates a whimsical masterclass of indie-pop songwriting."[18] The album earned spots on best-of-2014 lists from Rough Trade,[19] NPR's All Songs Considered,[20] Village Voice[21] and Wondering Sound, the latter of which said of the album, "It’s a bold, confident statement, and it’s an early pick for one of the year’s best."[22]

She is set to release a new album in 2016.[23]


  • Haley Bryn Bonar (Slicktunes Recording, 2001)
  • 9 Song Demo (Self released, 2002)
  • ...The Size of Planets (Chairkicker's Union, 2003)
  • Lure the Fox EP (Self released, 2004)
  • Lure the Fox (Afternoon Records, 2006)
  • Big Star (Afternoon Records, 2008)
  • Only X-Mas EP (Self released, 2008)
  • Sing With Me EP (Self released, 2010)
  • Golder (Graveface Records, April 2011)
  • Bad Reputation 7" (Noiseland, November 2012)
  • Human Eye (released with Gramma's Boyfriend, Graveface, 2013)
  • Last War (Graveface Records, May 2014)
  • Perm (released with Gramma's Boyfriend, Graveface, 2015)
  • Impossible Dream (Gndwire Records, 2016)


  1. ^ "Haley Bonar – Songs, Playlists, Videos and Tours". BBC Music. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  2. ^ "Music is the weapon in Haley Bonar's 'Last War'". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  3. ^ "Q&A: Singer Haley Bonar". Duluthnewstribune.com. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  4. ^ Rivera, Erica (2014-05-14). "Music is the weapon in Haley Bonar's 'Last War'". StarTribune.com. Retrieved 2016-08-08. 
  5. ^ "Haley Bonar moves to Portland, Oregon". City Pages. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  6. ^ "Haley Bonar moves back to Minneapolis". City Pages. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  7. ^ Stewart Mason (1983-04-22). "Haley Bonar | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-08-08. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ [2][dead link]
  10. ^ "Golder by Haley Bonar on iTunes". iTunes. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  11. ^ "Gramma's Boyfriend". Graveface.com. Retrieved 2016-01-30. 
  12. ^ "Gramma's Boyfriend 'The Human Eye', by Gramma's Boyfriend". Graveface Records & Curiosities. Retrieved 2016-01-30. 
  13. ^ "PERM, by Gramma's Boyfriend". Graveface Records & Curiosities. Retrieved 2016-01-30. 
  14. ^ "Haley Bonar Builds". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  15. ^ "Last War by Haley Bonar on iTunes". iTunes. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  16. ^ Twitter, Stephen Thompson. "First Listen: Haley Bonar, 'Last War'". NPR.org. Retrieved 2016-01-20. 
  17. ^ "Hear Haley Bonar's Dynamic, Demanding 'No Sensitive Man' | SPIN". Spin. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  18. ^ "Listen: Haley Bonar's gorgeous new song "Kill The Fun"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  19. ^ "Rough Trade's favorite albums of 2014". Brooklynvegan.com. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  20. ^ "Stephen Thompson's Top 10 Albums Of 2014". NPR.org. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  21. ^ "The Best Minnesota Albums of 2014". City Pages. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  22. ^ "100 Best Albums of 2014". Wondering Sound. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  23. ^ "Haley Bonar performs live at the Minnesota State Fair". The Current from Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 

External links[edit]