Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Local Natives - (P)review

Of course, you have heard of the saying "What goes around, comes around" but have you heard of the phrase "Harmonies heal the lacerations of vulgarities past"? I didn't think so, because I just made it up whilst thinking about this crazy trend in music over the past year-and-a-half involving groups of soft-spoken, super-talented musicians reviving the harmony-fuelled folk-rock of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Wow, I used a lot of hyphens in that last sentence.

Grizzly Bear, The Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses and Beach House have all tapped into the vocal-heavy, melodic, catchy compositions that hearken back to the musical formulas popularized by Buffalo Springfield, The Band, and Love. There are a few traits that differentiate this new wave of indie-folk from the original folk-rock tsunami - such as longer tracks, slick production, and lyrical sophistication - but this genre is always pleasant and accessible. 

I hadn't jumped onto the inclusive Neo-Folk bandwagon up until hearing the Local Natives' Gorilla Manor (the name of the house in which the band resides). I like Grizzly Bear & Co but each of these bands lack something. For example, Grizzly Bear can meander, and the Fleet Foxes are a bit contrived in their appearance and personae. A glance at the Local Natives may trip the *hipster* switch in your head, but a thorough listen to their album and a superficial investigation into band member biographies will reveal a group that places music before ego, and  a band that is so diverse in their talent that it makes you hopeful for the future of original rock music. I mean, you just end up looking "hip" if you are from a well-to-do family, are left-wing, are in a successful Neo-Folk band, are young, are from the West Coast and are intelligent...right?

There have been some significant smaller shows in Vancouver over the past year: We Were Promised Jetpacks, Phoenix, Beach House...these are bands that WILL be big and WILL move on to larger venues the next time around. Local Natives will be playing at the Venue on May 28th. Even if you don't love their music, go for an educational cultural outing. It's cheap. It's good. It's Neo-Folk.

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