L.A.’s Latest Discovery: Local Natives

25 Apr

Local Natives

 

L.A. has launched many bands. A whole slew of classic rock acts started there. The Beach Boys. The Doors. The Eagles. The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. Even, dare I say, the Carpenters, which started in the southeast L.A. suburb of Downey. And a growing number of indie acts call L.A. home as well. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. The Deadly Syndrome. Silversun Pickups. Dum Dum. Girls. And Best Coast.

But one you may not have heard of is Local Natives — from Silver Lake in central L.A. — which recently released their sophomore effort, Hummingbird, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2010 debut, Gorilla Manor.

We recently added Hummingbird to our new releases at KZSU, Stanford, where I DJ on Fridays at 9 a.m., and it’s excellent. The group has drawn comparisons to bands such as Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, Band of Horses, and even The National — whom it has toured with. And the beautiful, floating melodies of tracks such as “Mt. Washington” certainly measure up to some of Fleet Foxes’ best songs. But Local Natives is far from a Fleet Foxes wanna be.

One of the differentiating qualities is the band’s use of intricate rhythms in many of its songs. The staccato repetition of “Heavy Feet” makes the title a misnomer — it should be the opposite. “Breakers,” Local Natives’ first single release, features a syncopated rhythm track that includes drums and handclaps. On “Wooly Mammoth,” Matt Frazier’s drumming is explosive, providing a unique driven quality underscoring Kelcey Ayer’s soaring vocals. There’s nothing like this in Fleet Foxes’ repertoire.

No review of this CD would be complete without a mention of “Colombia,” the next-to-last track on the CD. Local Natives has been through highs and lows over the past three years — from touring with Arcade Fire and the National to the unexpected death of Ayer’s mother. “Colombia” is Ayer’s emotional farewell, and I dare you to listen to his pleading vocals without emotion welling up inside — especially if you’ve ever experienced the death of a close friend or family member.

This is a magnificent effort from a young band that has unlimited potential with many years of growth ahead.

 

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