Donora "Ha Ha Heart

Sunny pop/rock music and a sense of family helps define Ha Ha Heart


It’s ironic that a band that makes outrageously sunny pop music should name itself after a town made infamous by a deadly smog inversion. If there has been a Pittsburgh band that’s made happier, shinier music than Donora I’m at a loss to name it. The band’s latest release, Ha Ha Heart, overflows with a surplus of energy, major chords, and sing-along choruses.

Donora is comprised of brother and sister duo Jake and Casey Hanner and are joined by bassist and keyboardist Jake Churton. Jake Hanner drums and sings backing vocals; Casey handles guitar and lead vocal duties. Ha Ha Heart was recorded in Jake Hanner’s new home studio and became a family affair. Jake produced and Dave Hanner, the sibling’s father and nationally successful singer/songwriter, offered feedback on the recording. Extended family members spent time in the studio with the band and the comradery of tight connections comes through in the music. Occasionally family members make it into the recording as on the opening track “I Might Have to Worry” which features excited children as the song fades.

Ha Ha Heart is a demonstrative album that emotes possitivity. It’s also a statement about the band, or as Casey puts it, “We wanted to be as honest as we could be … from the creative process, to the music itself, to the artwork… This is us.”

Ha Ha Heart will not be released in CD form but the band has put together a book that documents the making of the album and includes lyrics, photos, and original artwork. If you're looking for a way to brighten up these slate-gray Pittsburgh days, look towards Donora.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Host)