Local Natives, Gorilla Manor

Local Natives, Gorilla Manor

Up until a few years ago, I was turned off by the recent slew of indie-rock heroes. The Bon Ivers, Beiruts, and Vampire Weekends were a little too ethereal and a little too dainty for my taste. They seemed to lack the creativity and, frankly, the balls to do anything interesting. I wanted my mind blown with incomprehensible, abrasive instrumentation and dark, obtuse lyrics. Well, I was wrong, and any remaining trace of my old perspective has been completely erased by Local Natives’ debut album, Gorilla Manor.

On the surface, Gorilla Manor appears to be a relatively uncomplicated folk-rock album. In fact, my first few runs through Gorilla Manor left me barely content with my purchase. To me, it was another good album that’ll make the occasional appearance in my music rotation. However, with each successive play, Gorilla Manor proved itself to be a more complex album, and it began to rise far above its peers. The brilliance of Local Natives is their ability to understand how to pair opposing ideas.

At Gorilla Manor‘s heart are the gorgeous vocal harmonies of Taylor Rice and Ryan Hahn, particularly on “Shape Shifter” and “Wide Eyes.” We’ve seen these neo-folk vocal arrangements before, but never have they been accompanied by anything like Matt Frazier’s frenetic drumming. Conceptually, Frazier’s drumming style should be too intrusive or too distracting to have a place among these lush vocals. I mean, would you pair up Simon and Garfunkel with Jon Bonham? However, it doesn’t just work, it enhances the overall experience, particularly in “Who Knows Who Cares.” Throughout Gorilla Manor, Frazier knows when to lay it out and when to step back into the background — too much, and he’ll drown out the two-part harmonies; too little, and the song becomes flat and pedestrian. Combine that with some beautifully subtle orchestration, and Local Natives create some wonderfully layered songs that, as a whole, surpasses their individual parts.

Details, details, details; life is all about details. They turn an event into a memory and separates the great from the good. Local Natives know what should and shouldn’t be in their songs. You might not notice when the band moves from two-part to three-part harmony or what exactly is going on with the drums, but you will notice if something has changed or, worse, if something is missing. It’s this very balancing act where Local Natives excels and it’s what makes their debut album, Gorilla Manor, an exceptional album.

[Local Natives are playing 10/7/10 at the House of Blues, along with Union Line & The Love Language.]
(Frenchkiss Records -- 111 East 14th St. Suite 229, New York, NY. 10003; http://www.frenchkissrecords.com/; Local Natives -- http://www.thelocalnatives.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Thursday, October 7th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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3 Responses to “Local Natives, Gorilla Manor

  1. James Newlin on October 1st, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Good album, yes, but you’re about 6 months behind on this one.

  2. Jeremy Hart on October 1st, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    *shrug*. Sorry — we get ’em when we get ’em, and we were aiming for putting the review up prior to the show here…

  3. Daniel on October 1st, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Sorry James, as Jeremy said, we’ll get them in when we get them in, lot of good music to cover so sometimes things take a while.

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