Local Natives succeed despite loss of bassist


Local Natives performs at the 2010 FYF Music Festival in San Francisco.

By Kara Phillips, Staff Writer

 Local Natives’ sophomore album, Hummingbird, displays the effect of their change in dynamic after the 2010 loss of bassist, Andy Hamm. Even though this loss could have harmed the band’s sound, the album displays a mature, somber sound that was not uncovered until now.

Kelcey Ayers, vocalist and keyboardist, also reveals vulnerability in his voice that was not surfaced in debut album, Gorilla Manor. In the opening track, “You & I,” Ayers exhibits this voice accompanied with lyrics that ooze with honesty and emptiness.

Following “You & I” is “Heavy Feet,” a track that recalls the percussive tribal beats and angelic harmonies fans fell in love with on Gorilla Manor, showing that even though they have altered their sound, they still are the same head-bopping, toe-tapping Local Natives that fans love.

In the noteworthy track “Black Spot,” Ayers sends shivers up the audience’s spines with his raw, distinct voice that leaves the listener wanting more. As the song continues, the instrumentals come in at a faster rate until everything becomes hushed except for Ayers’ voice.

Proceeding “Black Spot” is “Breakers,” a track displaying an orchestra of beautiful sound all melting together into one masterpiece. Another upbeat track is “Black Balloons,” where guitarists Ryan Hahn and Taylor Rice show off their mastery in the lone guitar parts of the song.

“Mt. Washington,” is another track that shows off Hahn’s and Rice’s adeptness. The song, like many on the album, starts out slow and bare to highlight Ayer’s voice and lure listeners into the song. As it continues however, the percussion picks up, and it becomes an amalgamation of beautiful music until it abruptly withers into its conclusion of the song.

Next comes “Columbia,” a heart-wrenching ballad to Ayer’s mother, who passed away in the summer of 2012. Towards the end, Ayers exclaims, “Patricia, every night I’ll ask myself/ Am I giving enough?” This line’s heart-breaking significance is a plea to his deceased mother to let him know if he is living his life the right way.

Another standout song is “11-11,” one of the bonus tracks. The harmonies on this song are spectacular, and the accompaniment of the violin exaggerates the flowing, melting effect of the song.

If Gorilla Manor was the spring of the Local Natives—new, bouncing and fun, then Hummingbird is the winter, displaying a maturity and sorrow that has come from loss. Both albums are so different, yet one thing remains: Local Natives is a band of artists that needs to be explored by those who can fully appreciate them.