Local Natives: “Sun Hands”

As one of many born-and-bred East Coast transplants currently calling San Francisco home, I find myself consistently comparing the two sides of the country. For one I naturally feel a rose-colored nostalgia (a term fascinatingly discussed in Milan Kundera’s lesser-known novel Ignorance); for the other, a vague yet potent fear and loathing. That, coupled with my intrinsic inability to relate to all things LA (how can a city that is always 75 and sunny really know how to brood?) made me predisposed to dislike Local Natives, even though—or perhaps because—they were so lauded by Pitchfork. First of all, the band name: Local Natives. Really?  Had they just learned the meaning of “redundant”? They could have just used it in a sentence rather than as  their moniker. Second, the record’s name, Gorilla Manor—like the physical incarnation of a beer and vomit-spattered college frat house—made me want to head for the hills (no, not the Hollywood ones), where I would be safe from roofies, funnels, bros, and Smirnoff Ice.

As it turns out, my prejudiced assumption wasn’t far from the truth. The band did record the album in an Orange County house of ill repute. But, as the old adage goes, don’t judge a book by its (highly off-putting) cover. Despite a definitive tendency towards pop (and the sunny harmonies that so often accompany it), I grew to like them more and more with every listen. Finally, I found myself defending them while reading a piece on them in NPR’s Song of the Day, in which the writer alleged that “Airplanes” was about the longing for a lost romantic love, when it is, in fact, about the singer’s late grandfather. Idiots. Maybe these guys aren’t as one-dimensional as I thought. If you missed them at Bottom of the Hill last night, all is not lost: they’re playing tonight at the Rickshaw Stop. Looks like the demand outweighs the supply. Just like the ration of fake breasts to real ones in La La Land.

Local Natives – Sun Hands

Who: Local Natives

What: Gorilla Manor

When: 11.2.2009

Where: Los Angeles, California

Why: “And when I can feel with my sun hands / I promise not to lose her again”

How: Frenchkiss/Infectious


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