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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Local Natives show new side on ‘Hummingbird,’ play Rialto tonight


    Rarely can an indie band be labeled as having a truly anthemic sound. The idea of such an act is contradictory, blurring the line between the underground cred that makes an indie band “indie,” while sounding as if its songs could fill up a cavernous stadium. Few bands do this sound right and fewer do the label justice. Los Angeles’ Local Natives are such a band.

    With its massive debut album Gorilla Manor, accolades from the likes of indie greats Arcade Fire and The National, and ample buzz surrounding its being the face of the Los Angeles indie scene, it’d be easy to assume that Local Natives are a band that’s poised for eventual pompousness. But as guitarist Ryan Hahn puts it, these things sometimes just happen, and the humility is a necessary part of it.

    “I wish I could say we knew what we were doing,” Hahn said. “We’re all really tight friends, so I’m not sure how we really came upon it, it just kind of happened. When we’re working on music, we just work it out that way.”

    The music, however, is held above all else. Local Natives have been called a career-oriented group, motivated to make strides with its music. Gorilla Manor, while somewhat loose in its structure, is a brilliant and layered album that relies heavily on massive vocal harmonies that are instruments unto themselves.

    On Local Natives’ latest release, Hummingbird, the band opted for a more restrained sound, changing the harmonic elements from cornerstones to another facet of the young band’s musical dynamic.

    “A lot of the songs on [this album] kind of called for a more direct, singular voice that just fit the narrative and the lyric,” Hahn said. “I think we really wanted to make sure that we could expand ourselves and not rely solely on not having a giant harmony on every song, like ‘Let’s do a harmony where it’s warranted, where it will be powerful or beautiful or effective.’”

    The kind of success Local Natives have achieved has media outlets labeling the band the premier indie act in Los Angeles as of late, as if they’re the face of a severely underrated scene. Hahn said these kind of accolades have left him slightly uncomfortable, as if he’s not quite at terms with how influential and cultivated his band’s sound has become.

    “I think we just kind of laughed that one off, I don’t even know what to say to that,” he said. “It’s just kind of one of those things that you let other people say. Other people are going to say what they’re going to say.”

    It’s possible that Local Natives will grow into its shoes in time. Though the band and its members are young, it’s left with not much to prove to anyone but themselves. Local Natives have found a sound, an audience and credibility. As long as Hahn and his compatriots keep experimenting, it seems the band will find the formula it’s looking for.

    “It’d be dishonest for us to be like ‘This is where we sit in our genre, let’s just write this type of music,’” Hahn said. “You just do what you do and as long as it’s honest — that’s kind of our guiding principle.”

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