Release Date: Jan 29, 2013
Record label: French Kiss
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
L.A.'s Local Natives take you to the beach and cry in your umbrella drink. Their blindingly bright washes of CSNY harmonies and wide-spiral psychedelia can recall Grizzly Bear or Fleet Foxes. But there’s an undercurrent of stormy emotionalism that really comes out on the band’s second album. Kelcey Ayer vents pillowy angst in vivid detail as minimalist synth surges and push-pull drum rumble rough up his dove-winged melodies.
On “You & I,” the opening song of Local Natives’ sophomore LP Hummingbird, Kelcey Ayer’s initial vocals flap and flutter on delivery, stretching out the song’s title like a clumsy inaugural flight. The moment deviates from the band’s previous offering, the critical and commercial mini-hit Gorilla Manor, exchanging trademark harmonies for Ayer’s lonely cry, a lunge for the apex of his vocal range that lands gripping the ledge by his fingertips, every quiver and imperfection magnified by its naked presentation. When the chorus arrives, his aching falsetto is comforted by his bandmates, but not before a nest is built to cradle Ayer’s sorrow, and not until the roles that his band and their music play in his healing begin to be defined.
Gorilla Manor: goofy name for a young band hoping to be taken seriously for their full-hearted hooks. There was no guarantee Local Natives’ 2009 album would take off the way that it did, or take off at all for that matter. As is frequently the case with debuts, there remained a sad likelihood that it would end up not as a career-launch, but rather a photo album to be looked back upon fondly.
Local NativesHummingbird[Frenchkiss; 2013]By Brendan Frank; January 28, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetCompare them to whomever you will, Local Natives are coming into their own. Over the past few years, the Californian quartet (formerly a quintet) have floated up into the upper echelons of a populous musical scene. They wasted no time with their ascent.
Local Natives' 2010 debut, Gorilla Manor, was fully-formed and immediately pleasing, functioning at a level that lesser acts spend entire careers trying to reach. But it had a certain youthful scrappiness, too. Alongside expansive tracks like "Shape Shifter" and "Wide Eyes", there were the silly howls that introduced "Airplanes" and the shouty breakdown of "Sun Hands", both of which brought comparisons to Animal Collective.
These Silver Lake upstarts garnered considerable—and deserved—praise for the sonorous harmonies, worldly rhythms and Cali melodies of their 2009 debut Gorilla Manor. The animalian titling fixation continues with Hummingbird: a looser, groovier, and vibier set of tunes co-produced by the band and The National’s Aaron Dessner. Like the first album, this 11-song collection slowly, but surely, works to win you over.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, goes the old adage. In the case of Local Natives, it’s a mantra you hope might have legs. For the interim period between the rustic West Coast glimmer of debut Gorilla Manor and follow-up Hummingbird has been plagued with intra - and extra- band loss, from the 'heartbreaking' departure of bassist Andy Hamm, to the passing away of vocalist Kelcey Ayer’s mother.
Local Natives’ debut album, 2009’s Gorilla Manor, earned the LA four-piece a great deal of praise, as well as numerous comparisons to artists with similarly high-pitched lead singers, like Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear. Yet apart from the vague vocal similarity, Local Natives’ first LP was a luscious and emotionally powerful outing, which showed an abundance of maturity from such a new band. Kelcey Ayer and Taylor Rice’s sumptuous vocal harmonies combined wonderfully over the band’s sun-soaked percussion and delicate strings.
Back when choral folk-pop made by the dainty hands of the bearded gentlemen in Midlake and Fleet Foxes was the height of indie cool, Local Natives’ melodic 2009 debut ‘Gorilla Manor’ slipped neatly into the grizzly but lush zeitgeist. On the follow-up, ‘Hummingbird’, the LA quartet’s airy, heart-jolting harmonies are still present and correct – head straight to the grandiose middle of ‘Black Spot’ for potent proof – but this time around they’re playing things a little differently. As well as roping in former tour buddy Aaron Dessner of The National to co-produce their second album, they’ve ditched the perpetual California sunshine to record in the less tropical environs of Montreal and Brooklyn.
The stereotypical sound we now perceive as "indie-rock" has become a narrow range of guitar- and harmony-driven melodies that veer close to the realm of today's pop music, yet is accessible to both the masses and the buzz blog enthusiasts. Acts such as Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes are prime examples. L.A. quintet-turned-quartet Local Natives sat alongside these contemporaries in 2010 when they released their acclaimed debut, Gorilla Manor, which erupted with a frenzy of rhythms and percussion, earworm riffs and energetic harmonies that called for your attention.
It was Kierkegaard, no great lover of West Coast indie rock, who suggested the problem of life was that it was lived forward and understood backwards. This too is the cross-purpose with second records: the way forward is stuck in reverse, a band and an audience unsure of what will happen next, concerned with the memory of the first record, living backwards and forwards at once. Kelcey Ayer, co-lead vocalist for Local Natives, lets his voice sail out over the top of the arrangement on “You & I”, the lead song from sophomore long player Hummingbird, and maybe an attempt to reconcile some of this crossing directionality.
Gorilla Manor, the 2009 debut from LA four-piece Local Natives, earned them plenty of comparisons to Fleet Foxes. The follow-up, recorded in New York with the National's Aaron Dessner, finds them on similar ground, opener You & I setting the tone, all unhurried melancholia topped by Kelcey Ayer's soaring vocal. Elsewhere, they show they're equally adept at the euphoria in which Arcade Fire deal, with the sumptuous Breakers and Black Balloons.
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To get to a desired outcome, it’s best to borrow from those you know. Silver Lake’s Local Natives held true to that ideal by establishing themselves as scholars of the indie rock pantheon, which really meant taking up the tried-and-true practice of adapting to the musical climate of the era (at the time, it was afro-pop) before truly understanding their potential. What their debut Gorilla Manor lacked in originality it made up in meticulous craftsmanship.
Local Natives' sophomore effort, 2013's Hummingbird, is a more atmospheric and introspective collection of songs in contrast to the band's effusive 2009 breakthrough debut Gorilla Manor. Perhaps it has something to do with the parting of bassist Andy Hamm, who left the band in 2011. More likely, it is the influence of producer and the National guitarist Aaron Dessner, who also co-wrote some of the songs on Hummingbird.
At first glance, Local Natives' second album seems to have been conceived with the sole intention of bumping up that Pitchfork percentage. Written after touring with Arcade Fire? Produced by the National's Aaron Dessner? Put together in hipster enclaves Montreal, Brooklyn and Silverlake? Only if it came wrapped in plaid and dubious facial hair could it appeal more to its chosen demographic. It would be unrealistic, then, to expect Hummingbird to consist of nothing but raucous bashment anthems, and so it transpires – musical comfort zones are rarely left, with the band alighting on the same twinkling Americana sound that has served the likes of Fleet Foxes and My Morning Jacket so well.
Hummingbird picks up where Local Natives’ previous effort, the acclaimed Gorilla Manor, left off. It follows a formula that worked before, and continues to work, retaining the group’s sublime, lofty harmonies. What has changed over the course of three years however, are the lyrics. Hummingbird is an album that turns inward, exploring more introverted territory than its predecessor.
One of the more hypnotic qualities of Local Natives’ 2009 debut, “Gorilla Manor,” was the notion that you could sing along to the songs. You were supposed to. As loud as you could. The choruses were resplendent with male harmonies that begged for your own. On the Los Angeles band’s ….
Not many bands receive as much acclaim on their debut album as L.A. band Local Natives did for Gorilla Manor. The record’s catchy melodies, woven vocals and easy-going, youthful attitude made it a highlight of 2010. Flash-forward three years, and the band is back with a new album called Hummingbird.
Effervescent pop from Local Natives' 2010 debut Gorilla Manor scored raves, so in avoiding the sophomore slump, these harmonic L.A. rockers grew through the pain – bassist Andy Hamm departed, angel-voiced keyboardist Kelcey Ayer's mom died – to evince pleasure. Produced in New York by Aaron Dessner (of the National), Hummingbird's layers complement its psychic search.
A largely successful second set from the Californian outfit. James Skinner 2013 Hummingbird is a first for Local Natives in a number of ways. Following well-received debut Gorilla Manor in 2009, it is the first album the band has made without bassist Andy Hamm, who split from the group in 2011. It’s the first to have been recorded outside of their native California, and also marks the first time they have worked with an outside producer.