Artist to Watch

Accepting the Evolution of Local Natives and Their New Album

We are less than two months away from the release of Sunlit Youth, the new album  by California indie rock band Local Natives. The magic day is September 9th and we have already been gifted with a substantial taste of what is to come via three singles. So what should we expect? Well, the reality might not please everyone, because come that day in early September we will be listening to a different Local Natives than we are used to.

From what we can tell so far, there is less evidence of the DIY, almost bedroom rock sound that was present on the Local Natives’ debut, Gorilla Manor, back in 2010The conditions in which the material for their debut was written – namely their chaotic residence in Orange County for which the album is named – helped to create this signature sound. Furthermore, according to guitarist/vocalist Taylor Rice, another contributing factor was their focus on making sure that they could play all of their music live which sometimes meant simplifying down their ideas. However, by their second studio release none of these factors were present.

By the time their sophomore album, Hummingbird, dropped in 2013 the band not only had performance and songwriting experience under their belt – not to mention a growing fan base – but also knowledge of the recording process. This combined with the departure of bassist Andy Hamm in 2011 resulted in the band being more adventurous during their second round in the studio. Based solely on the three singles released over the past two months, we can already see evidence that the new album will be pushing the envelope even more than Hummingbird did.

The band explained that the first single released back in April, “Past Lives“, deals with self reflection:

“The world is not static, it’s made new over and over again. But we tend to live the same patterns in a loop…But our world is not fixed, it’s constantly reemerging, and we can change it into whatever we want.”

They went on to explain how this paralleled their songwriting styles in the past and how they wanted to change as they moved forward as musicians. They later expanded on this when talking about the second single released in early June:

“Lyrically, ‘Villainy is about realizing that you have the ability to change your situation, that you can start again everyday. We applied that to how we made music this time around.”

When listening to “Villainy” you can almost sense the band telling you to give their new vibe a shot as they sing “It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust. Step back into the sun.” By the time their final single, “Fountain of Youth“, released on July 7th the band was truly embracing their new direction: “We can say whatever we want. We can say whatever we need.”

So what should we expect from Sunlit Youth? Well, the reality might not please everyone, because come that day in early September we will be listening to a different Local Natives than we are used to. There might be more synthesizers in the mix. There might be less emphasis on group harmonies and more of a focus on Taylor Rice’s vocals. There might be more conviction and self-analysis in their lyrics. Although this might be an evolved Local Natives, they are still the band we fell in love with six years ago. Besides, it doesn’t really matter what we think – they can say whatever they want, and I think, come September 9th, we should listen.

Artist to Watch: Transporting Planets

Hailing from Southern California, Transporting Planets is a shoegaze band consisting of Omar Akrouche, Eric Van Thyne and Gavin Baker. Self-described as “lively shoegaze,” the band initially took foot when Van Thyne recorded songs, that are on their first EP, and Akrouche and Baker joined when Van Thyne needed a live band. Since then, Van Thyne still records much of the instrumentals, however, Akrouche and Baker appear on various parts of the band’s album, especially on their recent self-titled record, Transporting Planets. The band plans to release an EP that includes b-sides from their previous EPs and albums. Transporting Planets encompasses an eclectic sound that dives listeners right into the world of shoegaze.

Artist to Watch: Young and Sick

When it comes to the brainchild of artist/musician Nick Van Hofwegen, there is something about him that keeps listeners coming back. Currently on tour with Chance the Rapper, he also played Austin City Limits during both Fridays.

Having just released a new album, it seems like Young and Sick can do pretty much anything. Having done artwork for bands such as Foster the People and Maroon 5, Hofwegen seems to receive a mass amount of well-deserved attention, especially with his work for Foster the People.

Whether or not you like R&B-influenced music, there is something in store for everybody from this Dutch artist. Young and Sick is definitely getting the attention he deserves, and is well on his way to becoming bigger and better.

Artist to Watch: Jordan Velez

Oh, melancholic ballads about love, and heartbreak, and the complicated love-hate relationship we have with them. On one hand, there is something about them that tugs the heartstrings in us all, and on the other, there always seems to be something about them that always sounds (even if vaguely) so similar to each other. But, it seems as though Jordan Velez, singer-songwriter, photographer, filmmaker, and a seemingly busy person overall, adds his own darker twist to these ballads. Whether or not you have had your heart shattered or not, there seems to be an element in Velez’s songwriting that everyone seems to relate to.

Originally getting into music when he was seven and his father introduced him to the beat machine and taught him how to layer synthesizer ok top of drum and bass and so on and so forth. Ever since then he has not stopped making music, ranging from simple beats with synth melodies, or vocals over chord progressions.

Whether you have been listening to Velez since his debut and eagerly awaiting his latest album or a new fan casually listening, there is something in his music for everyone.