A group of talented artists who are all on the same page is like gold dust: hard to come by, but when found, is an irreversible experience.
I was made aware of my blank “Indie-Rock” category site-page by a slew of artist emails, and it made me think “ya know what…you’re right”…. I’m slacking.
Local Natives are my comeback answer; definitely not in the best-kept-secret category, but one of my favorite bands in the past few months. I’d be remiss to not spread their already wide musical net.
The band is currently comprised of Taylor Rice (vocals, guitar), Kelcey Ayer (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Ryan Hahn (guitar, backing vocals), Matt Frazier (drums) and Nik Ewing (bass). Bassist Andy Hamm was a part of group up until 2011 when they parted ways.
“I never thought we could be a band that [could play a song like] “Café Amarillo” ⏤ this dark, smoky, LA jam that feels like it was played by a bunch of musicians who are better than us….I definitely feel like I have imposter syndrome.”Kelcey Ayer, Atwood Magazine
The group recently released Violet Street, aptly named after the street where the it was recorded and produced. This is their 4th studio album and was produced by 5-time Grammy Award-winning producer Shawn Everett (who also works with Kacey Musgraves, Alabama Shakes, Post Malone, and more). The band has credited Shawn with being the reason the record has been such a success.
My favorite track off the album is “Café Amarillo”; a song about searching (and finding) a place of refuge when things get tough. I’m sure we can all relate to that message these days. The boys actually wrote and demoed this song on a trip to Mexico, but ended up scrapping it and re-purposing it in Shawns studio. “Unfortunately once we brought it into Shawn’s studio, we weren’t really feeling it. So a few of us switched instruments — Nik on keys and myself on bass, and the resulting live jam felt like a wholly new song” (Genius, 2019).
I came across an acoustic version of “Café Amarillo” at The Current studio, and I’m a huge fan. It brings the track back to earth in a way that adds a certain raw element. Have a listen to the link below.
“Café Amarillo” has taken a backseat to their hit song “When Am I Gonna Lose You” off the same album, of which currently has over 40M streams. Both are fantastic, but I exhausted this track QUICK…I guess that’s the risk when you make a song that good?
If you’re already a Natives fan, I hope this helped freshen your appreciation for them. If this is a new name, dive into their catalog and start with Violet Street…I think it’s their best work to date.