Quick side note: I put most of the information in the writing itself. So now you all have to actually read the profile. Muahaha
Hailing from Orange County, California, Local Natives have been honing their indie-rock sound since late 2008. It was at that time that Tesoro High School friends Kelcey Ayer (vocals, keyboards, percussion, guitar), Ryan Hahn (guitar, keyboards, mandolin, vocals), and Taylor Rice (guitar, vocals, bass) had graduated from college and began filling out the band’s roster with bassist Andy Hamm and drummer Matt Frazier. With the newly cemented lineup in place, the band collectively moved into a house in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, to work on their self-funded debut.
Gorilla Manor, named after their hectic and disheveled house, was released on February 16, 2010, in the U.S. The album was the first showcase for the band’s soaring and melodic west-coast sound. Standout tracks, “Wide Eyes” and “Airplanes,” provided a layout for the band’s signature sound and personality on that first album. Featuring triumphant and prideful drumming from Frazier, and layered guitar licks, “Wide Eyes” is the essential statement on that first record. “Airplanes” comes out to be even more melodic, featuring vocal harmonies against a catchy, repeating chorus, “I want you back.” The album has a total of 12 tracks, combining for an overall length of 52:40. The debut charted on the Billboard 200 and reached #3 on the New Artist Chart. It also garnered fairly well-received critical reviews; Pitchfork gave the album an 8.4/10 and the LA Times gave the album three out of four stars.
The band continued to gain notoriety through touring. They had a particularly successful run at the 2009 SXSW showcase, and they drew comparisons to many notable bands. Pitchfork even ventured to call them “sort of a West Coast Grizzly Bear.” Their success experienced a slight speed-bump when they decided to part ways with bassist Hamm “Due to unresolved differences within the band.” The band trudged forward with Rice taking more bass duties in the recording process of their second album, Hummingbird.
Hummingbird was released on January 29, 2013. The album was made in the same vain and style as Gorilla Manor, but the tone was considerably more melodramatic. The band decided to record the album under the production of the National’s Aaron Dessner, and moved from the serenity of So Cal to the harshness of New York City for recording. It was a conscious move by the band to reflect different emotion and subject matter that reflected the band’s evolution. Tracks like “You & I” and “Breakers” act as stark contrasts to “Wide Eyes” and “Airplanes.” Melody and vocal harmonies have shifted into much more melancholic territory and instrumentation acts as a much gloomier device. Yet, there are still slivers of optimism and hope that highlight a brighter tomorrow mentality.
Local Natives are truly a band founded on cooperation and unity. They work collectively on songwriting and artwork for the band, creating a unified vision and direction.
Personal Assessment for Bonnaroo: I’m unbelievably excited for this set. Their music sets up perfectly for a late afternoon/early evening time as the sun sets. They seem to be tight vocally and instrumentally in their live performances. They’re also going to be a great break set from more demanding shows, allowing you to just relax and get lost in their melodies. One last tidbit of info, they worked a new touring bassist into the mix in 2012, Nik Ewing.
Local Natives for me are one of the reasons Bonnaroo is so great. I had no idea who they were before I decided to go to Bonnaroo. I found them out when I was doing my homework on the bands that were going and they quickly became one of my favorites. Glad I found a lot of great new (to me at least) music!