Local Natives on New Album Hummingbird: "It's A Very Personal Record For Us"

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Bryan Sheffield
Mushrooms and vines: those were the things poking through cracks in the walls and crawling out from underneath the sink when Local Natives began to clear out the abandoned bungalow on Sunset that would eventually become their new studio space.

See also: Local Natives' Big Vaulted Ceilings: On their new album, the rising indie-folk act show who they are and what they've become

Formerly a tattoo parlor, the seemingly forsaken spot had immense potential for Taylor Rice, Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn, and Matt Frazier when they did some detective work shortly after returning to Los Angeles from tour. "Basically, the landlord was this musician who came over from Ireland 15 or 20 years ago, and he owned a bunch of bars in LA," says Rice. "It didn't make sense for him to rent it, but he saw us as these musicians who could really use his help. He worked with us to clear the place out. We worked on the place for two months and completely rehabilitated it. It's not a common thing for us to be out there with power tools and 2x4s, so that was a great exercise for us to do before we got into a creative space again."

See also: Live: The Hirsute And Bombastic Local Natives At Bowery Ballroom

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Rob Harvilla's Top 10 Albums Of 2010

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Naturally, this dude is involved
Distilling a full year of furtive, easily distracted, constantly overwhelmed listening down to a mere 10 albums is a ridiculous, agonizing, thoroughly loathsome undertaking, and yet here we all are, pulling nine fully formed sonic universes together and capping it off with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, because that's what we all did in 2010. Try Warpaint's morose "Undertow" when you want to feel sorry for yourself, Sleigh Bells' spectacularly violent "Straight A's" when you want to feel sorry for whoever you're about to punch in the face, and the morosely spectacular "Runaway" when you want to feel sorry for, well, Kanye. This was my year, with all the distractions finally, mercifully filtered out.

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Live: The Hirsute And Bombastic Local Natives At Bowery Ballroom

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Not kidding about the hirsute thing. PIcs by Santiago Felipe.
Local Natives
Bowery Ballroom
Thursday, May 6

Your eyes are drawn immediately to the one dude's mustache, a prime accordion-playing/fire-flower-acquiring/bowling-pin-juggling/olde-tyme-bathing-suit-wearing juggernaut, a profound specimen of facial hair in a crowd that knows from same. But otherwise L.A.'s Local Natives are a true collective, no leader and no focal point, a five-man, instrument-swapping whirlwind of jerky guitars, pounding tom drums, and white-funk bass, veering from complex and disarmingly pretty four-part vocal harmonies to Arcade Fire-style en masse shouting. They are way better at all this than you'd expect, though. Put it this way: They do a sad, nervously elegant version of Talking Heads' "Warning Sign," and I, a guy so protective of that particular NYC institution that I once offered to personally pay a local Northern California band $20 if they promised never to cover Talking Heads again, totally approve. ("BAMF"?)

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