She's another gifted Americana musician who calls Austin, Minn., her hometown (see: Gear Daddies, Charlie Parr). She's another evocative songwriter whose conservative Christian upbringing belies her pilgrimage into secular rock clubs (Low, Jeremy Messersmith, Zoo Animal's Holly Newsom). And she's yet another local musician who raised money for a new album via Kickstarter.com (just about every indie music act of late).

There's not a whole lot to set Bethany Larson apart except she's damn talented.

A rising star who started gigging five years ago, Larson, 26, still qualifies as a newcomer since she took a two-year hiatus from music along the way. The long break was brought on by heartbreak -- a romantic split that predictably and thankfully showed up in her songs once she started performing again.

"I just didn't feel like playing music all that time," Larson recalled. "Then it became the one big void in my life."

Playing music should be unavoidable from here on out for Larson with the release of "When We Reach the City," the debut album with her band the Bee's Knees. Named after a line in Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" (a reference to heaven), the record lands with a party Friday at the Kitty Cat Klub.

The album comes off like Bon Iver's "For Emma, Forever Ago" if it had been recorded in a sunny urban garden over the summer instead of a dark hunting cabin in winter. Throughout the disc, Larson struggles to get past a fella but finds strength along the way. Musically, her high-wavering voice recalls Roma Di Luna's Channy Moon Caselle, while her atmospheric twang-rock shows traces of Neko Case and the Jayhawks.

Larson's hung-up state is evident in the opening "Still," in which she sings around a bouncy, fuzzy guitar: "Part of me wants to disappear / Part of me wants to die right here / Part of me wants to tell you that you can never come back."

Larson didn't just pick up a guitar a couple years ago. She grew up with a Baptist minister for a father and a musical family that included three older brothers (one of whom, Chris Larson, sings backup with the Bee's Knees). You can hear the gospel music influence in the rocky dirge "The Devil Is on His Way" and "The Heavens Remain," one of the disc's more elegant tracks. There's also a redemptive quality in the slow, organ-lightened closing tune, "We'll Be Alright."

"We went to church about five days a week," said Larson, who attended Northwestern, the Christian college in Roseville. She now describes her religious views as, "I believe things happen for a reason, but that's about it."

At least that's enough to summarize the uplifting tone on her otherwise sad album.

Random mix

After a decade of offering the most punk thing on the local dial, Adam Mehl is turning his weekly Radio K show "Out of Step" into a podcast and celebrating a 10th anniversary Wednesday at the Triple Rock. Semi-local faves Off With Their Heads -- last seen in town opening for Dropkick Murphys -- headline the show along with wicked Texan tourmates the Riverboat Gamblers (9 p.m., $14). ... The Triple Rock's big hardcore show Saturday features a reunion by Harvest and a farewell set by Disembodied. ...

Duluth's Music and Maritime Festival sails today through Monday with the Suburbs, Gear Daddies, Mason Jennings, Retribution Gospel Choir, Haley Bonar and more behind Grandma's Sports Garden in Canal Park ($40 fest pass, or $20 per day). ...

The original four members (yes, four) of the Willie Wisely Trio are back together after an 18-year hiatus and have a new album, "True." They're promoting it Tuesday at Bryant-Lake Bowl (8 p.m., $10-$12). ... Also planning a reunion are four members of the Family, the Prince project that first gave us "Nothing Compares 2 U," who will perform under the moniker fDeluxe at the Loring Theater on Sept. 16, the week they drop a new album. Tickets at www.LoringTheater.com. ...

Written and recorded before the tragic flooding, Pennyroyal's powerful new single "Minot" is now being sold on iTunes to raise money for North Dakota relief efforts. ... Kudos to the organizers of the June 12 "NorthSide" tornado concert with Sounds of Blackness, Soul Asylum, Larry Long, etc., who announced this week they raised $26,000 from ticket sales and $80,000 via donations, which can still be made at www.NorthsideBenefit.org. That's more in one night than the state government has raised all month.