Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
I've never jumped out of a plane. I've never even considered jumping out of a plane. I've barely ridden on a roller coaster - the only one being a slight, very kid-ish, girly, weiner coaster when I was very, very young. It's never happened again. The roads winding through the Rocky Mountains and those bordering the Black Canyon of the Colorado River and Lake Mead around the Hoover Dam are like torture riding along. Heights are bad for these nerves. Looking out of glass elevators on floors higher that five up makes this guy awfully squeamish. A helicopter or hot air balloon ride would be an immediate no-no, as vomiting would be eminent. You could count on it. These are my own characteristics and shortcomings and what they have to do with Silverlake, California band Local Natives might seem very peculiar and unclear right now, but just go with it good sirs and dames. The band is so suave and persuasive that all of my apprehensions toward death-defying stunts and activities could be placed on hold - at least figuratively, maybe actually. The band's dreamy and accomplished debut album is a complete thought of white-watered rapids and wide open skies. There are dizzying heights to be sucked in, to be washed over by. It feels as if - without leaving the ground, without peering over the bottom lip of an open airplane door - you're already doing it. The blues and whites of the upper layers of travelable air get blended right into your skin, through a different kind of osmosis. It feels death-defying to me. It feels like an unexpected splash of the iciest and coldest water that could come out of a hose or put into a bucket and heaved. Suddenly, before you've ever been able to get acclimated to what you were to experience, you've already been struck by a sensation of free-falling and exhilarated flushing. Your eyes are peeling off at the corners with water - could be tears - and you're only hearing the collected harmonies of Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn, and Taylor Rice. They create the kind of feeling - with a musicality so ambitious and daring, but immediately satisfying - that you can only attain if you're head over heels with the very thought of maximizing all that's in your heart and soul, of actually listening to and responding to those two colluding and difficult parts of a person. The band may get the soul. REALLY get the soul. They may be in cahoots with more than their own and that would explain a lot. The music seems to just stream forth like uncontrollable cleansing and excitement, as if there were no way a man could harness or suppress it. They are in possession of the unfathomable dimensions of the mind and the body and the fine lines that are drawn between being a spectator and grabbing your own happiness by the very long tail and letting it shake the dust off of you. It's a spoken language with the greatest of heights. It's communicating with the heavens and it makes it so that none of us should ever have to do something do freaky as leap out of an airplane to feel like we've partied with the heavens.