Local Natives fly with 'Hummingbird'

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Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

Los Angeles rockers Local Natives approached the recording of their recently released album, "Hummingbird," in an almost fearless manner.

Sure, plenty of bands that have successful debuts -- as did Local Natives with the release of "Gorilla Manor" -- worry about a sophomore slump. But coming off tours with Arcade Fire and the National, plus selling more than 100,000 albums just in the U.S., just made Local Natives hungry to show fans what else they could offer.

"It's always so funny to talk about the first versus the second album," said Kelcey Ayer, frontman for the band. "Writing your first record, well, you don't really have anything to base it off of. You're basically writing it with people in your band, which is great because you can say what you want to say. But with the second one, you have something you can look back to."

The band is nothing if not reflective, both in its career and music. Take how the members honed their concerts to such a fine point -- gigs included playing barns in rural Illinois -- that they took the 2010 SXSW by storm. Then they recorded their debut, named for the house where they all lived and worked, and were off on a whirlwind rock star stream. The debut album, featuring a great take on the Talking Heads' "Warning Sign," won them popular and critical success.

Onstage
Local Natives with Superhumanoids
» Where: 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW
» When: 8 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday
» Info: Sold out, but tickets may still be available through resellers; 877-987-6487; 930.com

While some bands would stick with all the elements that first won them recognition, Local Natives left Los Angeles and did most of the work on the album in New York with the National's Aaron Dessner as co-producer.

Although many critics liken Local Natives' sound to Fleet Foxes and other bands of that ilk, Local Natives have their own psychedelic-rock-folk sound that makes them uniquely their own. With songs based on all kinds of personal and professional highs and lows the band members experienced during the two years since their first album was released -- including the departure of bassist Andy Hamm -- the songs are arguably darker and more reflective than those on "Gorilla Manor."

"Our mind-set [is] different now," said Ayer. "Some of that's due to the switch in the lineup. We're used to writing for five pieces, and now that it's a four piece, it's different. But we've just stopped trying to worry about things, like how songs [will translate] live. We just write and let the songs take shape. ... That's really helped the whole process."

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Nancy Dunham

Examiner Correspondent
The Washington Examiner