Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Kelcey Ayer, the main singer for the Silver Lake, Calif., band Local Natives does characters. He has many of them and they make appearances, flashing in and out of nowhere, while just going through any given day. Theyve become some of the crutches that the five-piece uses to break through the monotony of life in an ever-touring, globe-trotting band. These characters are strong personalities. Theyre witty and sharp and very quick on the draw. Oftentimes, theyre antagonistic, accusatory and threatening. Theyre often playful bullies and one-uppers. Theres one from the Bayou give or take that makes derogatory comments and gets into peoples faces, and another is more of a claw character that communicates via stern facial expressions and a synthetic Jaws-like, computer-out-of-control hunting call. For this latter character, his bandmates are the victims. One will be chosen at random to feel the brunt of the stalking and the wrath and usually another bassist Andy Hamm, drummer Matt Frazier, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Hahn and guitarist/vocalist Taylor Rice all play brilliant straight men when they have to stick up for the wounded prey is there to feebly protect. Ayer plays the role of impending doom and the straight man will put on a weepy sort of submissive tone, pleading for mercy, saying, Come on, man! He didnt do anything. Just leave him alone, man! He doesnt want any trouble. Its a comedy act to pass time and its a hilarious one but this idea of impending doom and needing mercy is one that Local Natives, a group that as proven itself one of the finest and most promising young bands in the world, seem to come back to frequently. They tumble into love and find themselves gasping some, at the end of silence, distance or wet eyes. They paint the picture, with three and four-part harmonies that could butter bread and with a revelatory rhythm and pulse that makes you perspire, your heart race like a filly just thinking about it. The band arranges songs in ways that force you to behave differently, to change a little inside, while listening to and inevitability joining in on the harmonies, before too long. But even beyond, just the way that they move within the structure of the song, you have those words that are being so beautifully sung. Everyone, by now, knows Airplanes, a song written for Ayers late grandfather that could be considered the bands hit thus far, drawing loud cheers and sing-a-longs at every show and being the song from the bands debut, Gorilla Manor, that older women have somehow found and expressed love for. Its full of sadness over additional time with a loved one being effectively stolen by death. It feels like theres a little death in every one of the songs on the album, though it cant be the case, really. Were dealing with something thats death-like, but its actually growth. Its a lot of moving on and estrangement. Its a lot of loving someone and feeling that passionate passion, but not being able to sense whats going to happen next likely one of the scariest positions to be in for any human being. They get their tension into form through their music banging on many things, bending their bodies like mouths when they play and generally becoming the embodiment of these feelings. Ayer and Rice sing on Wide Eyes, Oh some evil spirit or some evil this way comes/They told me how they fear it/Now theyre placing it on their tongues/All the men of faith and men of science had their questions/Could it ever be on earth as it is in heaven? It feels spooky and the very last line almost begs for an answer. It seems as if this is necessary information so that all can rest a little easier. The new arrangements of these three songs here are more testament to the ability and melodic inventiveness of this very promising band, showing even more so, the vibrancy of their tongues and spirits.