Under Review: Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

Hey, remember simple musical genres?  Those one-word terms you could attach to just about every band to put them into neat little boxes?  The days of using such simple terms to describe bands are long gone, replaced with descriptors that begin with words like “post-“ or “neo-”  and end with words like “-fusion” or “-revival.”  Luckily for Local Natives, a band whose style is just out of the once-long reach of traditional music categories, we’ve all gotten used to genre blending and don’t think of it an unusual trend.  Local Natives hail from Los Angeles, but the music on their debut, Gorilla Manor, cherry-picks bits from some of the finest recent breakouts from both coasts’ indie rock scenes.  With clattering percussion breakdowns, songs like “Sun Hands” and opener “Wide Eyes” evoke the tightly-wound sounds of White Rabbits.  The group’s haunting harmonies, especially on “Airplanes” and “Cubism Dream,” recall the tones of Fleet Foxes, and the cover of Talking Heads’ “Warning Sign” totally captures the itchy anxiousness of that band’s early days.  Local Natives may draw some very overt influences, but the way in which they make them their own is what makes Gorilla Manor truly impressive and exciting.  Also notable is the album’s constant tweaks of its own musical themes:  a number of the tracks, like “Camera Talks” and “Who Knows Who Cares,” are propulsive rockers with string backings but the band speed up, slow down and fragment the arrangements to keep things consistent yet fresh.  Since this record is Local Natives’ debut, they can be forgiven for Gorilla Manor’s few freshman gaffes, but even the weaker songs are focused and neatly constructed.  No, there aren’t any guitar freakouts or extended outros, but Gorilla Manor is a nonetheless sturdy effort from these representatives of indie rock’s latest breed.  After 2009, a year in which experimental music became streamlined and Afro-rhythms and jagged song structures became the norm, it’s refreshing to hear a band like Local Natives quietly bringing the indie world’s direction back to a more coherent place.  Whether or not that place can be described in one or two words isn’t clear just yet, but even if we tried to figure Local Natives out, they’d likely defy our classifications easily and humbly.

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~ by E. on March 3, 2010.

One Response to “Under Review: Local Natives – Gorilla Manor”

  1. Wow. I am SO impressed with how knowledgeable and passionate you are about music! I wish I could relate to more of the music you write about, but since I can’t, I’m just enjoying the way you write. 🙂

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