Free and legal MP3 from Local Natives

Percussive, nicely textured mix of lightness and heaviness

“Airplanes” – Local Natives

Incorporating humor and substance, intricacy and simplicity, “Airplanes” feels terrifically well-conceived and well-performed. From the oddball grunts and groans that start things off to the strong instrumental parts to the offbeat way the lyrics and music match up, everything in this moderately paced, appealingly percussive song works to produce great texture and a satisfying sense of presence. Local Natives is a L.A.-based quintet with three singers and often an extra drummer; the way this song achieves both lightness and heaviness has a lot to do with the playful musicality of each band member. (For a delightful look at this exact characteristic, check out the band’s backyard video in which they cover “Cecilia.”)

“Airplanes” is about singer Kelcey Ayer’s grandfather, an impressive family personality (and longtime Boeing engineer) who died when Kelcey was two. Ayer’s falsetto-y tenor, at once good-natured and forlorn, has a lot to do with how the song manages to incorporate both lightness and heaviness as it unfolds, as do the smartly arranged harmonies that help him out. It’s a mature sensibility for a young band. If they can navigate the tricky interpersonal politics of keeping five creative folks together in one ensemble, Local Natives have a serious shot at success, however success is defined on the 21st-century music scene.

When the band’s debut CD, Gorilla Manor, is released, you’ll find “Airplanes” on it. The album–which gets its name from the nickname given to a house the band members shared for a while in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles–is “forthcoming,” says the band. Which might mean they’re shopping it around, hoping to find a record label that wants to release it for them. Maybe they had some luck last week in Austin? In the meantime, MP3 via the band.

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