Local Natives share Sylvan Esso collab, made us a quarantine playlist
March in early March, right before the whole country went in lockdown, Local Natives taped a performance for Jimmy Kimmel Live featuring a revamped version of their single "Dark Days" (from 2016's Sunlit Youth) with help from Sylvan Esso's Amelia Meath. That version of "Dark Days" has now been released as a single, mixed by Spike Stent who has worked with Bjork, Madonna, Grimes and many more. "'Dark Days' is a loose homage to growing up in Southern California: first loves, sneaking out, finding your our own way —all while trying to outrun religious guilt," say the band. "The song has become integral to our band and our live shows. We last played it live on Kimmel a little over 2 months ago, which now feels like a distant memory from a bizarre alternate reality. Despite the looming anxiety of those final pre-quarantine days, that performance felt especially cathartic for us and was made all the more poignant by having Amelia on stage with us. She not only lent us her incredible voice but she wrote a beautiful new verse that taps into the nostalgia and the longing we all feel for a different time.“ Listen to that and watch the Kimmel video below.
Meanwhile, we've been asking bands what they've been listening to during quarantine and Local Natives' Nik Ewing has made us a playlist that includes tracks by LCD Soundsystem, FKA twigs, Frank Ocean, Moses Sumney, Neil Young, Yo La Tengo, Dirty Projectors, Lykke Li, Elliott Smith, A.A. Bondy, Fiona Apple, Majical Cloudz, Marvin Gaye, and more. Listen to that, and read Nik's track-by-track commentary, below.
Meanwhile, Sylvan Esso have taped a home edition of NPR's "Tiny Desk Concert" series, performing "Die Young," "Rewind" and "Radio" from their lovely blue couch. Watch That below as well.
LOCAL NATIVES' NIK EWING - WHAT I'VE BEEN LISTENING TO DURING QUARANTINE
LCD Soundsystem - "New York, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down"
I’m the only one in my band that lives in NYC, the rest are in California. All the actual Brooklyn vegans can relate on how strange and sad the city has become. New York, I love you, but the past few months, you’ve been bringing me down.
Warhaus - "Everybody"
Maarten also sings in the band Balthazar (who also has two “lead singers”), who opened for us 7-8 years ago. We’ve stayed in touch and they always treat us to a memorial night anytime we tour through Belgium. His beautiful solo album is like a lost Belgian Leonard Cohen meets Serge sad sing-a-long.
Moses Sumney - "Gagarin"
If that LCD song was a modern take on a classic NYC swing ballad, then this is a modern take on that modern take. ‘Gagarin' is what walking around NYC now feels like to me: some dystopian alternate universe where I read gravitational collapse black hole Wikipedia articles as a calm distraction to what’s going on in reality. We had the privilege of having Moses open up a 2014 tour for us (and he sang such a beautiful hidden harmony on our third album). His new double album wrecks me, as if it was specifically made for these isolating times.
Gorillaz - "Hallelujah Money"
Mellow 70’s folk music calmed me down most of March. Now I find comfort in music that speaks directly to this bizarre time. A ballad about power and money with Benjamin’s crushingly, powerful voice really hits the mark right now.
Frank Ocean - "Dear April"
Was it just me or did March take like 7 weeks to get through and then all of sudden April ended? How does Frank always predict my our future feelings? He announced a song called Dear April about two strangers in November?? Why does the mix switching from stereo to mono when he sings “left and right” bring me to tears?
FKA twigs - "cellophane"
How difficult it is to publicly admit something sad, that we more often than not choose to dance around a simple universal sadness we all feel from time to time: the difference between the outside perception of a carefully curated Instagram and how it actually is. How is Mary Magdalene somehow a polarizing historical figure? Yet all those opposing theological debates around her life and greater meaning completely ignore the real person who had real feelings that are probably nothing like we perceive her to have been. This album already brought me to tears many times before attaching new meaning about being vulnerable in today’s time.
MorMor - "Won't Let You"
I’m such a fan of everything he’s been slowly releasing. That falsetto…
Neil Young - "Will to Love"
Speaking of said 70’s folk in March: my wife constantly listened to Neil Young early quarantine days. Like a comforting blanket or hanging with an old friend...
Elliott Smith - "Coast to Coast"
I remember buying this CD right when it came out.I lost the CD two months after it came out, so HAD to buy another. So now I have two CD packagings and one CD of this album. At the time,I wasn't able to read much about what the album was supposed to be, just that it was the last album Elliott was working on (and I don’t want to touch the controversy of what was “supposed” to be on this album or not with a 10 foot pole). All that to say: I LOVE this album. There are some criminally underrated gems on it.
L’Rain - "Heavy (But Not in Wait)"
Please listen to this entire album, so gorgeous
MT Hadley - "Janet"
Such a beautiful song about losing a mother to cancer, disguised as a pop song. His entire album is a masterpiece.
Yo La Tengo - "Saturday"
I saw them at Hollywood Bowl forever ago and I loved that they refused to use guitar stands: throwing the stands to the sides and leaning guitars on amps when they switched instruments.
Tam Visher - "Now We're Found"
If you haven’t found the common theme yet, then here’s another beautiful song about loss.
Dirty Projectors - "Police Story"
A band I was playing with before I joined Local Natives opened for Dirty Projectors. I watched their set every night. It’s a rarity to keep watching the artists you’re touring with every night: you get used to their setlists, planned jokes, the fake encore game, etc, but every night was so inspiring to watch. I can also definitively say this cover album directly inspired me to also cover an album in its entirety.
Chewing - "Time"
Speaking of, this is from my full album cover of Dennis Wilson’s only solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue. The actual album is a regular listen.
Lykke Li - "I Never Learn"
Rolling Stones - "Play With Fire"
Maybe my favorite Stones song. Maybe because they didn’t write it???! JK. But am I….?! No, but seriously...
David Vandervelde - "I Will Be Fine"
Matt from Delta Spirit put this album on my iPod back when people organized music on iPods.Years later I found out it was a jumbled track listing: maybe automatically alphabetized or maybe a regular error in the joys of syncing iPods and someone else’s iTunes in 2008. I have this corrupted track listing burnt into my memory, so hearing this song open this album now is an interesting choice
AA Bondy - "Killers 3"
He’s one of maybe two people I’ve ever seen perform with sunglasses inside where I actually thought “that dude is cool”
The Gloomies - "Moonlight"
Like that Moses song, this also sounds like how it feels walking around the city at 1am
Lower Dens - "Alphabet Song"
I want to think this song is about Alphabet City, but I have no idea. This beat is so rad.
Fiona Apple - "Heavy Balloon"
I have no new hot takes you haven’t already read to offer up on this masterpiece.
Majical Cloudz - "Impersonator"
I will always listen to and find comfort in any spooky vocal loop.
Local Natives - "Vogue" Gum & Ginoli Remix
My personal algorithm is probably pretty confused about how much I look up Local Natives (to remember a part of an old song or to share a new release on IG, etc) but rarely listen to a full song. The all-knowing algorithm will serve up LN songs on my personalized playlists but then I always skip the songs. We just put out a remix album and it kind of let me look into or listen to the songs in a new light. This remix, as a fan of GUM, is so rad. I wanna play it live. I’m tricking my brain into being a fan of my own music again.
Marvin Gaye - "Is That Enough"
I’m a firm believer that certain albums can only be understood at certain stages in life. I originally thought this was an over-indulgent album made when judgement was shaky due to a sad break-up. Now I’ve come to see that over-indulgence is what a confused, spiteful break-up (beautiful song) sounds like.
Listen to Local Natives' recent remix album, Violet Street: