California's Local Natives make hooky, nuanced rock that balances post-punk urgency with folk-tinged lyricism. The group had a buzzy moment in 2009 when their debut album, Gorilla Manor, grabbed fans and critical praise for its vibrant mix of kinetic tribal rhythms and soaring falsetto harmonies. Since then, the group have expanded upon that sound, exploring a darker, more ambient aesthetic on 2013's Hummingbird, adding synths and electronics into the mix for 2016's Sunlit Youth, and digging deep into a textural, '70s adult-contemporary vibe for 2019's Violet Street.
Originally, guitarist Ryan Hahn, singer/guitarist Taylor Rice, and keyboardist Kelcey Ayer (all of whom share vocal duties with Rice as the main lead) met while attending their Orange County high school and played together in various punk bands. After high school, they continued to play music while Rice attended UCLA. In 2008, around the time Rice graduated university, the trio recruited drummer Matt Frazier and bassist Andy Hamm, and subsequently moved to the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, where they began to forge their highly collaborative sound. Local Natives' debut, Gorilla Manor, arrived late in 2009 through U.K. label Infectious Records (with an American release coming early the following year by way of Frenchkiss).
In 2011, Hamm parted ways with the band, leaving them to continue on as a quartet. In 2013, Local Natives returned with their second long-player, Hummingbird. Led by the single "Breakers," it showcased a darker, more atmospheric sound than their debut. Shortly after the album was released, it was announced that Hamm's touring replacement, bassist Nick Ewing, had officially joined the band. As a quintet, Local Natives continued to tour in support of their sophomore release, which reached number 12 on the Billboard 200 as well as charting in parts of Western Europe.
A third album, Sunlit Youth, arrived in the summer of 2016 via Infectious and Loma Vista Recordings, peaking at number eight on the rock albums chart. It found the group returning to a more upbeat style, punctuated by the addition of synths. The single "I Saw You Close Your Eyes" was released in early 2017 along with a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk." Local Natives returned in early 2019 with Violet Street, which was produced by longtime studio collaborator Shawn Everett (Weezer, Lucius, the War on Drugs). Included on the album were the singles "When Am I Gonna Lose You" and "Cafe Amarillo." ~ Matt Collar