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Hummingbird

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (28 Jan. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Infectious
  • ASIN: B00ADZ2PUK
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,509 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Hummingbird is the second album from Los Angeles indie rockers Local Natives, following their hugely acclaimed debut Gorilla Manor (2009). The album was produced by The National's Aaron Dessner, and features the single "Breakers".

BBC Review

Hummingbird is a first for Local Natives in a number of ways. Following well-received debut Gorilla Manor in 2009, it is the first album the band has made without bassist Andy Hamm, who split from the group in 2011. It’s the first to have been recorded outside of their native California, and also marks the first time they have worked with an outside producer.

Following a support tour with The National, the quartet was drawn to the idea of escaping the distractions of their home state. They decamped to the New York home studio of (The National’s) Aaron Dessner – the same place that Sharon Van Etten recorded her breakout album, 2012’s Tramp.

The result is a bolder, brighter record than their debut: from the confident slow-burn of opener You & I to its skin-tingling finale, Hummingbird feels bigger and more serious than Gorilla Manor in just about every way. Arcade Fire were another band Local Natives opened for while touring their first album, and the cumulative effect of sharing stages with indie rock heavyweights such as these has palpably seeped into their approach.

Which brings us to the chief criticism likely to be levelled at Hummingbird: the nagging sensation that, for all the talent and poise on display here, Local Natives still don’t sound like completely their own band. The clattering Breakers is a case in point: it eddies, swells and teeters toward the magnificent, but ultimately recalls almost any of the songs on Arcade Fire’s Funeral too much to truly make an impact.

When the band come on strong, though, the effect is undeniable. Colombia is a moving highlight, written for a member’s mother who passed away last year; Wooly Mammoth is as relentless as Three Months is unexpectedly serene; while Bowery splices myriad influences into a disarmingly powerful kiss-off.

By and large a success, in Hummingbird Local Natives throw all they have at their songs and tend to come up with the goods on the other side. Had they taken a few more steps into uncharted territory, mind, this could have been something spectacular, rather than the very solid set that it is.

--James Skinner

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Customer Reviews

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By Red on Black TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Jan. 2013
Format: Audio CD
Hummingbird" represents the sound of a band coming of age and stretching out. Local Natives debut album "Gorilla Manor" charmed many a cold heart and the band members Taylor Rice (guitar/vocals), Kelcey Ayer (keyboards/vocals), Ryan Hahn (guitar/vocals), Andy Hamm (bass) and Matt Frazier (drums) have reconvened determined to prove that that there is plenty of milage in the tank and that this band of Californian minstrels are a true force. In a thoughtful review the BBC view of this album is ultimately that it represents a disappointment arguing that "could have been something spectacular, rather than the very solid set that it is". Frankly this reviewer can only issue a loud and formal disagreement. Granted the album does have echoes of Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes, but its certainly not derivative. What it does show is meticulous craftsmanship and that Ayer in particular is becoming a songwriter capable of articulating the deepest emotions in fine melodic style. No where is more apparent than on the fine opener "You and I" which builds throw pounding drums into a beast of a song with a searing vocal by Ayer and a melody that pulls you in like dust to a Dyson. This splendid start sets a trend on "Hummingbird" namely a general feeling of stately elegance as opposed to the instant gratification of their debut. It is because of this that this album does take more concentrated work and harder listens but the rewards are richer. For example the opening single "Breakers" is not really a standout on first listens sounding like it could have been located on Arcade Fire's "Funeral" (Local Natives have of course supported them on tour) with similar drum patterns to that used by the great Canadians. Time however reveals a song full of texture and longing whilst building to a furious crescendo.Read more ›
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There was a time when American bands seemed so different from the bands that we Brits produced - the Velvets, The Residents, Television, Pere Ubu, Talking Heads, The B52s, The Pixies, REM, Sonic Youth all seemed way ahead of the game - of course at the same time we produced the likes of Roxy Music, Joy Division, The Cure and The Smiths but they never seemed quite so sophisticated or knowing in the same way. And then sometime during 1990s we seemed to catch up or perhaps in some ways, at least with Americana, the US regressed (in a good way) and the identities became less well defined. This band are a great example of that metamorphosis - in all honesty I wouldn't have been able to tell you which side of the pond they were from without looking it up - they are from LA but they could be from Littlehampton - and it matters not one jot - what you get here are catchy songs, beautiful harmonies and interesting lyrics. Comparisons with Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fire are some way wide of the mark in my view - they sound nothing like as American (or Canadian) as those bands and this reinforces the mid-atlantic feel of this excellent album, a real progression from their first.
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The Local Natives have come up here with something quite brilliant. Opening track 'You & I' boasts Kelcey's high vocals over a reverb chord ambient guitar backing and is a superb start "When did your love go cold, the closer I get the further I have to go...to places we don't know." Another excellent track 'Heavy Feet' follows, sung again by Kelcey, with beautiful 3 part harmonies & dramatic build ups (have the 7" vinyl of this). 'Ceilings' is an acoustic guitar driven stunner with now Taylor's vocals & with their Beach Boys/Association harmonies. 'Black Spot' with piano & a slow build up reaches a mighty climax. 5th 'Breakers' (sung by Taylor) is a really strong effort & could well be the best here (also have the 7" vinyl of this first single off the LP). 'Three Months' is a slow atmospheric ballad, 'Black Balloons' is more brilliance & 'Wooly Mammoth' which follows keeps the high going. 'Mt Washington' a guitar strumalong with Ryan's impressive lead guitar & Taylor repeating the words "I don't have to see you right now" is also breathtaking. Then for me the highlight 'Columbia' sung by Kelcey which is emotional & beautiful (written for Kelcey's mum who recently passed away) "every night I ask myself am I loving enough". Amazing Association harmonies & guitar work plus the relentless majestic piano leaves you totally floored. 'Bowery' ends the album with bits of everything that has passed already and is a final listener blitz. This album showcases a band that is one of the best bands in the world. [Note that the 220gm vinyl LP version is really superb.]
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Absolutely loved 'Gorilla Manor', this continues in pretty much the same vain, great songwriting, they are peerless musicians too.
Saw them at the Greenman Festival this year, they were amazing live. 5 star nugget.
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I came to Local Natives knowing little or nothing about them however I'd heard that Aaron Dessner of The National had produced the record and I was instantly intrigued as I'm a huge fan of The National. Also, Aaron Dessner had previously produced the little heard but uniformly excellent 'The Conformist' by Doveman.

So, what to say about Local Natives? Quite simply, they're not really like The National as the tunes are much more summery sounding but they do share that dense instrumentation that The National are so good at and much like Boxer or the recent Trouble Will Find Me, Hummingbird really does warrant repeated listens and it's a surprisingly hopeful album although death and heartbreak feature quite heavily.

If you're a fan of The Antlers or The National, then there should be something about Hummingbird that appeals to you. Gorgeous melodies and beautiful vocals make this an essential purchase and one of the best albums of 2013 along with Trouble Will Find Me and Pedestrian Verse. Give 'Breakers' or 'Heavy Feet' a whirl and you should know if this album is for you.
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