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Local Natives: Gorilla Manor

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

Triple j 'album of the week' featured band local natives make soaring, sky-scraping harmonies, dreamy orchestral melodies, and throbbing tribal beats that bash their way into your soul. 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. One of sxsw 2009's biggest success stories, local natives 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 world-wide music industry. Based in the silver lake area of los angeles, three of the five-piece originally hail from orange county. The self-funded 'gorilla manor' was recorded by raymond richards in west los angeles.

Album Reviews:

Spin (p.90) - "Yearning vocals sit cross-legged around a campfire of tribal polyrhythms and gently fractured guitars..."

CMJ - "[A]n infectiously unique blend of tribal beats, three-part vocal harmonies, melodious guitar riffs and nostalgia-laden lyrics."

Q (Magazine) (p.119) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "'Camera Talk' and 'Cards & Quarters' are studded with synapse-snapping shifts in tempo and tone..."

Paste (magazine) (p.59) - "[They bridge] Brooklyn's tumbling tribal rhythms, rousing choruses and sophisticated pop arrangements with CSNY harmonies, guitar eruptions and straight-forward hooks..."

Album Notes

Although recorded in late 2008, Gorilla Manor wasn't released until 14 months later, allowing Local Natives the chance to build a strong blog buzz before their debut hit American shores. The delay wasn't entirely beneficial, however, as Gorilla Manor sounds quite similar to a number of albums that flourished in the interim. Local Natives' sunny harmonies call to mind Fleet Foxes' debut and Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest, while the band's polyphonic hand percussion -- which, at its most frenzied, is almost tribal sounding -- evokes memories of Yeasayer's All Hour Cymbals. For all its familiarity, though, Local Natives' first album is still an enjoyable piece of work, filled with enough pop melodies and multi-cultural quirks to make the year-long holdup fairly worthwhile. The band pitches itself somewhere between the post-punk camp and Afro-beat village, with the musicians often yelping their verses in multi-part harmony before barreling into Technicolor choruses. Matt Frazier's percussion is sharp, crisp, and always in the foreground, often assuming as much importance as the vocals themselves, while the album's production -- courtesy of the bandmates themselves, along with fellow Silver Lake resident Raymond Richards -- stretches a layer of pan-ethnic atmosphere over all 12 tracks, a move that bridges any gaps in the young group's songwriting. Local Natives may have arrived several months late for their own party, but Gorilla Manor is a refreshing example of good quality trumping bad timing. ~ Andrew Leahey


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