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Show Review

"We've come to find that, more than a lot of bands, we're really collaborative.", explains Local Natives' Ryan Hahn. "It's almost a very democratic process. We throw ideas around the room, and everyone puts their say in. We really like the fact that [everyone's happy] with every song we write because everyone's put their influence and their touch on the song".

Recollecting my conversation with Hahn and fellow band mate Andy Hamm in front of the Bowery Ballroom last May, the quote reads like an incredibly revealing explanation as to why Local Natives are such an exceptional new band on the scene. At the time the band's talents in the live setting were a mystery to me...though a galvanizing debut in Gorilla Manor certainly suggested something special would be in the works when the two Southern California based musicians, along with Taylor Rice, Kelcey Ayer, and Matt Frazier, brought the record to two sold out performances at the iconic venue on the corner of Bowery and Delancey.

In the exclusive concert performance video we captured on the first night of the band's stint in NYC, the synergetic spirit that binds the band together is evident enough. Clearly, this is not a tribe who are comfortable with their work merely being good enough. Self confessed "control freaks", the band and their music is the result of a communal creative process. Watching their interpretation of the Talking Heads' "Warning Sign", it's no great stretch to envision the band spending whole evenings working through single vocal passages. The rhythmic pounce of " Wide Eyes" offers a picture of the band studiously aligning cut and paste, percussive contributions so that each hit can synch with one another. And "Sun Hands" speaks to the band's efforts in holding back during one moment, so that another one can ultimately be that much more explosive. Dramatic, endearing, energetic, and impressive: we know you're going to love what is one of the most exciting bands we have ever had the pleasure to capture. - David Pitz

Artist Bio

Local Natives make soaring, sky-scraping harmonies, dreamy orchestral melodies, and throbbing tribal beats that bash their way into your soul. Theirs are songs you can dance to almost as well as you can swoon to them. Drawing a line from the vocal stylings of Crosby Stills Nash & Young and the Zombies through the more esoteric edges of post-punk and Afro-beat, this California five piece have communally crafted a brand of indie rock all their own.

For Local Natives everything is a collaboration, from song writing duties to the band's self produced artwork. The three part harmonies come courtesy of keyboardist Kelcey Ayer, guitarists Ryan Hahn and Taylor Rice. Then there's Matt Frazier on drums and Andy Hamm on bass, who look after the band's equally impressive graphics and artwork.

One of SXSW 2009's biggest success stories, the band drove for two days to get from Los Angeles to Austin in order to play nine spectacular shows that saw them sprinting, instruments in hand, from one gig to the next. Their hectic schedule paid off as Local Natives left Austin with the attention of the UK music Industry.

Based in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, three of the five-piece originally hail from Orange County. Kelcey, Ryan and Taylor attended neighboring high schools and hooked up with bassist Andy a year after they graduated, later meeting drummer Matt. They've been playing and evolving - together for three years. Last year, however, the band realized that the new songs they were writing were the sounds of a new project entirely.

It was in December 2008 that the band decamped to Silver Lake, where they all live in the same house. But the Silver Lake digs isn't the first house the band have shared. They lived together in Orange County too, in a place affectionately known as Gorilla Manor. It was insanely messy and there were always friends over knocking around on guitars or our thrift store piano, says Ryan, it was an incredible experience and I'll never forget that time. The original Gorilla Manor, where the band wrote the majority of their record, had such an impact that the band has paid tribute to the house by naming their debut album in its honor.

The self-funded Gorilla Manor was recorded by Raymond Richards in West Los Angeles. Richards produced the record with Local Natives in his own Red Rockets Glare Studio.

Featuring twelve sumptuous slices of dappled California sunlight and beguiling percussive rhythms, the album kicks off with the moody, driving, 'Wide Eyes'. Says Ryan, It's about people's obsession with the miraculous and disastrouswith witnessing extraordinary events. The effervescent, mandolin boasting 'Airplanes' follows, which Kelcey explains is about longing to have met my grandfather, a great man and pilot, who died before I was born. Also included is the glorious 'Sun Hands', which was released as a limited edition single on Chess Club back in July. According to Taylor, the lyrics describe that all too familiar feeling of wanting what you can't have especially when you once had it. There's a cover version in the mix too, a barely recognizable version of Talking Heads' 'Warning Sign'. We've basically flipped the song on its head, says Matt, explaining how they switched David Byrne's original yelped vocals into a beautiful three-part harmony.


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Local Natives

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