Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, February 9, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 11



 Mountain Views News Saturday, January 12, 2013 




Book Reviews by Jasmine Kelsey Williams 


America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t

Review By Sean Kayden


Three years ago, a little known band from Silver Lake released 
their powerfully emotive, pop rock-induced record, “Gorilla Manor” 
to the masses. Early comparisons were drawn from bands such as 
The Dodos, Fleet Foxes, and Grizzly Bear. Sonically lush with terrific 
harmonies, undulating guitar riffs, and thoughtful lyrics, Local Natives 
were onto something few bands could say with just one album under 
their belt. Flash forward to present day, the West 
Coast rockers headed east to record their follow-
up LP, “Hummingbird.” With the overwhelming 
buzz settling down, the departure of a band 
member, health problems striking down on some 
of the members, and singer Kelcey Ayer’s mother 
passing away, the band was determined to rebound 
through adversity. Through fortitude, Local 
Natives crafted a wholly introspective and utterly sensitive sophomore record. “Hummingbird” 
is epically beautiful with its delicate arrangements, spiritual undertones, and melancholy sound. 
It never feels forced or strained, only completely organic and entirely sincere. Local Natives are 
hoping to be one of the elite rock bands of their generation with a defining sound they can easily 
call their very own. 

Now a quartet of three singer/multi-instrumentalists and a drummer, the band recorded 
a much darker, deeper album than their debut had to offer. “Hummingbird” is more a controlled 
effort but presents very rich, unconventional instrumental textures. When touring with the 
band The National a few years ago, Local Natives befriended the group’s Aaron Dessner, who 
co-produced this latest effort. It was the perfect setup given The National’s proclivity for dark, 
brooding, emotive music. While Local Natives still express some buoyancy, the endeavor differs 
much from the days of “Gorilla Manor.” The four-piece rock act enchant with their memorable 
choruses and tender melodies. The standout track and climax of the album is “Columbia.” It 
was written through the somberness and despair of the passing of Ayer’s mother. “Columbia” is 
brutally heart wrenching and devastatingly beautiful. With lyrics are like “Am I giving enough? /
Every night I am asking myself, am I loving enough?” it’s easily the most compelling, thoughtful, 
and well-written songs the band has ever made. 

With songs like “Black Balloons” and “Wooly Mammoth,” the band brightens up just 
a bit. They’re not as solemn or fragile as the other songs but still strong tunes to complete the 
eleven-track album. “Breakers” is a soaring track that starts with a 30 second intro of howling 
guitars and catchy drums beats before it explodes with grand arrangements accompanied by 
“oohs” to fiercely escalate it to new heights. It slows down 
a bit and the vocals kick in, but it’s the chorus that brings the 
song to into a freshly new environment. At the end of the 
album, I was emotionally exhausted in the best way possible 
way. “Hummingbird” is absolutely gorgeous in every aspect 
of production. Compassionate, deeply expressive, and vastly 
heartfelt, Local Natives didn’t just meet expectations, they 
surpassed them in an unbelievable fashion. Clearly put, the record 
is dazzling from start to finish that clearly validates the boys’ long 
lull between records. However, even with the elongated gap among 
the albums, “Hummingbird” stands as a truly extraordinary piece 
of music that will be difficult to match by any artist this year. 

Grade: 9.5 out of 10 

Key Tracks: “You and I”, “Ceilings”, “Breakers”, “Mt. Washington”, 

For this next selection as we draw to the month of 
February, we take a turn into the satirical side of 
politics by introducing Stephen Colbert and his New 
York Times Bestseller, ‘America Again: Re-Becoming 
the Greatness We Never Weren’t’ (which for you 
readers is a mouthful). Do not worry; although 
the topics covered are political, Colbert’s tone and 
humorous narrative gives ‘America Again’ the satirical 
and funny charm that will pull readers in, as well as 
his previous books ‘I Am America (And So Can You!)’ 
and ‘I Am A Pole (And So Can You!)’. ‘America Again’ 
covers the many topics discussed in politics today, 
but with parodies: how Stephen’s perspective and 
“Americeptional” views provide insight on subjects 
such as healthcare, the elections, jobs and even Wall 
Street. However, it is not just Colbert’s words alone that 
provide the humorous insight that garners so many 
readers; his previous books, along with his popular 
show The Colbert Report, provide readers (and viewers) 
to take a different perspective on politics, giving them 
the ability to highlight the good, bad, and even the ugly 
parts of whatever subject is placed in front of them for 
discussion. Colbert brings freshness and zest with his 
books and show, providing readers plenty of opportunities to give their two cents on topics that are 
important to them and to see the results of actions taken that either help or hinder progress, ranging 
anywhere from the economy, conflicts in the Middle East, even job creation. Having received praise 
from various critics, Amazon, and from Stephen Colbert himself, ‘America Again: Re-Becoming the 
Greatness We Never Weren’t’ shows not just the ups and downs of politics, but also the greatness that 
can be achieved when one’s mind is not only put to politics but done with pride and gusto.
Artist: Local Natives

Album: Hummingbird 

Label: Frenchkiss Records

Release Date: January 29th, 2013


Built out of necessity in the late 70s, world renowned electronic keyboardist Don Lewis did the unthinkable; he combined four computer 
hardware synthesizers into one creating LEO (Live Electronic Orchestra) —what would later become the inspiration for the industry 
standard Musical Instrument Digital Interface or MIDI. This was a time when computers took up half a room.

Lewis played LEO during this year’s NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show Jan. 24-27, marking the 30th anniversary 
of MIDI. The concept was first 
demonstrated during the January 1983 
Winter NAMM Show by engineer and 
guitarist, Dave Smith.

Lewis explained that Ikutaro 
Kakehashi, the founder of Roland 
Corporation, would come see him play 
at the Hungry Tiger restaurant in the 
70s in San Francisco. The two became 

“This was the idea, people can have 
many different kinds of sounds from 
many different manufactures,” Lewis 
said. “He [Kakehashi] says I got to 
do something about that. So that was 
his inspiration to get MIDI out to the 
companies because if they adopted it 
people would not have to go through 
what I went through.”

Kakehashi and Smith were awarded 
a Technical Grammy Award for the 
development of MIDI in August 1983.

LEO was created by combining ARP’s 
2600 analog synthesizers with a 
Hammond Concorde organ. Lewis said 
the system consists of a three keyboards 
with a pedalboard. The top keyboard 
acts as the main controller able to play four notes per key, utilizing four Oberheim SEM modules, he explained. Other gadgetry includes 
an 8-channel stereo mixer, Roland Space Echo RE-201 and Digital Chorus DC-50 effects according to his website

In 2001, LEO found a new home at The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, California. The museum is also own and operated by 
NAMM. Prior to this year’s show, Lewis said he not played LEO since 2005.

“I took it home about six weeks ago from the museum,” Lewis said. “So I brought it back so I could work on it and I found all kinds of 
stuff that needed working on. I finally got everything working and when it’s working, there is nothing in the world that sounds like it, it’s 
just marvelous.”



This week, we had to wait at the DMW for 2 hours - with an appointment. Last week, I had to wait for 
1/2 hour with Verizon. How can we handle the stress? The bank, the bills, the car repair, the appliance 
repair, the mix ups, it’s all too much and our energy drains out, leaving us empty. What about the kids 
and the hormones?

The key is the ‘energy’. We need to train our energy muscles, so to speak. Pranayama and yoga are the 
answers. Prana means energy. The practice of pranayama is the practice of managing your energy. 
As we practice the yoga postures and the poses get harder and harder, our breath gets more and more 
challenged, but we practice keeping it smooth and calm. Then when life gets tough, we have already 
been learning to BREATHE through the challenge. Really! It’s not about doing crazy poses. It’s about 
how we learn to get flexible in body and mind. Can the hamstrings really be related to how flexible we 
our in our personality? Maybe, but with that flexibility, we can be flexible with our prana. 

As we get better at this, we can learn what we want to give our prana to. We can choose. Do we want 
to give it to the DMV? Verizon? No! We want to give it to the things we enjoy and make sure there is 
plenty overflowing to offer to our loved ones. Yoga and pranayama help us learn to put the good stuff in 
and how to choose where to spend it.

 We keep practicing, because it’s not overnight. But it really helps. I know families that say “mom, I 
think you need some yoga”. I know men and women that sigh when they walk into the yoga room and 
say, with a smile “ah! I’m here!” and after class, “I feel so much better!” It’s all because of the prana.

I love my practice. I can’t imagine where I would be without it. When the going gets tough, I do more 
yoga, and we are all happier.

Namasté, René

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