Well those were some the best avant-garde bands of the late 70s. Totally great, innovative rock bands, they pushed musical boundaries and made albums I still listen to today. Great, but difficult albums are an important part of rock; however, you don’t crank them in your car. They don’t play your wedding song. You don’t make up with your best friend because you can’t stop laughing thinking about this one time when that song was on and you … you know.
There’s something magical about a great classic-sounding band that you and any of your friends can listen to, sing-along to, and connect with the world. The joy of singing-along to a radio with a car full of friends can be something that you remember for years.
That brings me to another question:
Remember Fleetwood Mac? Same question, different type of response altogether. Many people have memories, emotions, deep feelings about an event or a person, they associate with a Mac song, I’m pretty sure people have emotional connections to Mac songs that are similar to the kind they have with dear friends.
In my opinion, L.A.’s, Local Natives have a chance to be our generation’s Mac. These guys may some day write your wedding song. You might hear “You and I” and thinking about some forgotten first kiss. Elegant songs, subtly accompanied and subtly sung by a group of excellent singers with laid back Southern California stylings, and kind and wistful lyrical sentiments. Sounds like both bands, huh? The new Local Natives’ full-length, Hummingbird is a bit more melancholy than its predecessor, the hit debut Gorilla Manor. Hummingbird’s sad beauty is one of the reasons why it is a winner. Not unlike producer Aaron Dressner’s band—the National—Local Natives are best when emphasizing their beauty rather than being “entertaining.”
Lead single “You and I” builds and broods with clever use of reverbed-out guitar, simple but hypnotic piano, clever percussion and of course—Local Native’s trademark hight harmonies. Local Native’s beautiful singing is more melancholy this time around but it really works (there’s a reason for the sadness if you read our review from their secret Satellite show in October).
“Heavy Feet” starts with urgent percussion and chiming guitar but its chorus lifts into a majestic, handclapping sing-along. The splendor never seems contrived or put on. In a time when most indie bands are little more than musical theater actors with mustaches and pegged pants, that’s quite a feat. Singer Taylor Rice has a beautiful falsetto and the other members contribute gorgeous often cleverly arranged back ups. “Breakers” a song that was leaked a few months ago, has some terse more angular guitar and drums in place, but has a chorus the size of a blue whale. You can almost see theoretical fists pumping as soon as its soaring multi-melodied chorus explodes. Also, a note has to be made about drummer Matt Frazier. Frazier has created a busy, but not dramatic percussion signature that both propels quieter verses—however— also clips some of the more potentially overly theatrical moments very cleverly. The songs and singing are great, but get very close to cheesiness. Frazier’s unique diligent but controlled, metronomic style acts as a much needed buffer as well as a singular creative choice. Someone buy that guy a beer, preferably the Natives’ manager.
All in all, Hummingbird is an elegiac beauty of a record, full of forlorn but catchy melodies and inventive singing. Possibly our generation’s eponymous first, Lyndsey/Stevie Mac record, and who knows—with care, hard work and magic, they have a Rumors in them next.
Words: Stephe Psi-X