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Exclusive First Listen: Local Natives

Right from the start, it's clear that Gorilla Manor is a special album. The harmonies grab hold immediately — they come courtesy of guitarists Ryan Hahn and Taylor Rice, along with keyboardist Kelcey Ayer — but there's also a gentleness to the singing. These aren't knockout vocals, but they're sweet, and they serve Local Natives' swaying, graceful songs just right.

The songs wouldn't stick with me they way they do if they didn't have drive, and that drive comes courtesy of bassist Andy Hamm and drummer Matt Frazier, who lend Gorilla Manor momentum and power. You can stream the album in its entirety here for the week leading up to its release on Feb. 16.

Local Natives' members are based in Silverlake, Calif., and funded Gorilla Manor themselves; they named the album for the nickname of a house where much of the band once lived.

"It was insanely messy, and there were always friends over knocking around on guitars or our thrift-store piano," Hahn says. "It was an incredible experience, and I'll never forget that time."

That camaraderie practically oozes out of the music of Local Natives, making Gorilla Manor my surprise album of the year so far. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.
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