by / September 30th, 2009 /

Local Natives – The Academy 2, Dublin

If multi-tiered vocals and layered rhythms are your thing then Local Natives are for you. Having kicked up a storm at this year’s SXSW with reportedly luminous shows, the Silver Lake quintet spent the subsequent few months re-recording parts of their debut Gorilla Manor, touring the States and soaking up the attention from the pursuing UK record labels. The ink is not yet dry on their contract with Infectious Records and the band are currently on a the NME Radar tour with the likes of Marina & The Diamonds and Golden Silvers. The boys have taken a detour to play their first European headline slot at Dublin’s Academy 2.

From the get-go the lads are tight-knit and evidently talented. They open with -World News’, lush harmonies and charming riffs fill the air drawing the audience in. The harmonies are largely three-part with a fourth member providing re-inforcement but not in any barbershop way. Local Natives cite their references as the vocal style of The Zombies and Crosby, Stills & Nash with the scattered percussion of Broken Social Scene and Animal Collective. When they marry these two the result is impressively mesmerizing. If we’re playing the RIYL game, let’s throw in their contemporaries and future peers, Fleet Foxes, Midlake and Grizzly Bear.

Their UK debut single -Camera Talking’ follows and proves a smart introduction to that band. Founding members Taylor Rice and Ryan Hahn bring some choppy post-punk guitars while sharing vocals with Kelcey Ayer on keyboards who supplements Matt Frazier’s regular drumming with additional tom-tom. Andy Hamm keeps it all in tact with intricate and sometimes groovy basslines. The fact that this line-up have only been assembled for just over a year is hard to believe given their controlled precision and prowess.

Sometimes an act will cover a song, turn it on its head and make it their own. Red House Painters did it with The Cars’ -All Mixed Up’, more recently Pivot reinterpreted Grizzly Bear’s -Colorado’ to astonishing effect. Covering Talking Heads successfully is seldom done. Local Natives can stand proud. They take full ownership of -Warning Sign’. Their version isn’t beyond recognition, at times Ayer’s cries match the howls of Byrne, however blended with the pastoral tones of his band mates and broken beats it’s a lighter, hazier, less confrontational affair. The song is now a staple of their live set and has earned a deserved spot on the upcoming album.

Earlier this year the band were heralded by the track -Airplanes’. Familiar to many, the audience mouth along as the band recount life and memories in a heartfelt manner. It’s a personal song -a mix of sounds, emotions and genres. Prior (slight) sound problems have cleared up and tonight’s rendition is beautifully delivered and received graciously.

True to their collaborative approach to making music the band swap around instruments, much like a cross-country road trip where each has a turn at the wheel. -Cards & Quarters’ has jangly guitars and layered vocals. -Stranger Things’ is country tinged with further choral delights. The set builds up to -Sun Hands’, a previous vinyl release in the US. With Ryan on keyboards the stage is a flurry of drums and Maracas. At this point there are five people playing seven instruments, taking the song from melodic to loud with boisterous crescendos and engineered (but not clinical) guitar dirges.

Local Natives are set to return in the Spring, most likely to a considerably larger venue.