Local Natives: Gorilla Manor

Artist: Local Natives

Title: Gorilla Manor
Release date: February 16
Label: French Kiss

To hear my fellow Up on the Sun bloggers talk about Local Natives, you'd think they're the greatest band to exist since . . . well, whatever band they felt the same way about two months ago.

So, I finally corraled a copy of the Southern California band's debut record (it's actually been out for six weeks now) and gave it a few listens. Most of my fellow blogging cats love love love their indie rock, so it makes sense why they're digging on Local Natives. This band is indie with a capital "I."
And by that I mean vaguely melodic, over-arranged, and more than a little showy. All that being said, Local Natives' Gorilla Manor sounds better to me than a lot of similarly buzzed-about bands, especially when they manage to cut loose from their own self-imposed restraints and remind us that, after all, they're still a rock band. I mean, after four listens, I like Gorilla Manor a helluva lot more than the dreadful Grizzly Bear record from last year. I like it better than Beach House and Morning Benders, too.

On one of the record's better songs, "Camera Talk," they harmonize, "And even though I can't be sure / Memory tells me that these times are worth working for." Gorilla Manor is kind of wide-eyed like that. And for the most part, the music agrees with the lyrics: compelling three-part harmonies, strings, echo-y electric guitar. In short, it (almost) fits right in SoCal's grand tradition of orchestrated pop.

Like I said, when Local Natives finds room in its songs to notch up the rock quotient (as it does on opening track "Wide Eyes," "Sun Hands," and "Camera Talk,") the band sets itself apart from its indie-pop contemporary. And when the band finally gives in to the temptation to build some hooks into more than one song ("World News"), they'll leave indie-land behind in no time.

Best song: "Sun Hands," for its great bass line.
Rotation: Medium
Deja Vu: A lot of bands from the past couple of years. Thankfully, L.N. are just a little more interesting than most of them.
I'd rather listen to: The Galaxie 500 reissues that came out today.
Grade: B

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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