Local Hero
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Local Hero

Berkeley, California, United States | SELF

Berkeley, California, United States | SELF
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Anyone for surfing? If only the summer days were still upon us. Oh well. Local Hero is trying to keep our brains in the mindset that it is still warm enough for a day on the ocean with the track "The Gold Coast." For whatever reason, we can't get enough of this surfery style of music around here. It's so easy to listen to, I just can't say no when I can envision myself on a beach around sunset. It's a nice feeling. So for anyone who wants to reminisce of summer or even if you don't, this song is still for you. There might be something wrong with your brain if you can't find a way to enjoy it. The song comes from their week-old EP The Aldgate. - Music That Isn't Bad


LOCAL HERO
The Aldgate EP
* * * * 1/2
BEST IN THE WEST

After numerous amazing tentative titles (including Gangbang Amadeus Mozart and Throw Some Swag On That Swag), East Bay trio Local Hero finally decided to name their debut EP after a British pub in Tokyo and slap a vintage-looking image of a bunch of boats on the cover. If your first thought was Picture Atlantic, British Sea Power or other similarly maritime-enamored post-punk revivalists, we’re in the same boat here (pun semi-intended). The ship and title are nonetheless appropriate to the music here. Local Hero carry with them a certain globetrotting chic that is as highbrow as that of Vampire Weekend but considerably more whimsical and extroverted, as if the boys in the band actually spent some time traveling across the world rather than having it channeled to them through history classes and King Sunny Ade records. They sing about Barcelona daydreams, the great Northwest, and the Champs-Elysees, and there is something too big and bold about their sound to suggest that their worldly musings are the product of any sort of ennui or fantasy.


Yet this is hardly “world music.” The band’s influences come directly from the Anglophone indieverse—there are elements of Fleet Foxes’ reverb-drenched harmony folk, Destroyer’s obtuse, psychedelic lyrics, Girls’ repurposing of classic pop motifs, and the Afro-pop glory of Local Natives and Vampire Weekend. Yet all these different styles meet in the middle, firmly in pop territory with no pretentious avant-gardism or Pitchfork aspirations. In fact, it’s a ridiculously upbeat record. Mackay’s raspy, slurred voice sounds intoxicated from life rather than weed or alcohol, and his idiosyncratic, evocative lyrics glisten atop the major-key background like a sauce drizzled artfully on some fancy dish at a Parisian restaurant. Everything boils down to a summertime pop mélange that is sometimes sexy, often quirky, and always fun. It is a shame that The Aldgate was released at the very tail end of summer, as this would be the perfect album for a summer in the Bay Area—or anywhere else for that matter. - SF Rebirth


This such a happy way to start the weekend.

Everyone should be thankful that more artists don’t send in covers of 60's Motown (especially of the girl groups) because I think I might just only post them. Here, Maya Laner of Local Hero covers the 1963 classic by The Ronettes.

The 18 year old recorded the song for a “special friend…since the lyrics of the song really fit the way I was feeling about them.”

Anyways, this mailbox gem is currently available for free download via Soundcloud. You can check out the Local Hero, the band Maya is a part of, at their website.

Hope you enjoy! - 1146 Miles


The boy-girl interplay on Local Hero‘s Lady Wisconsin is enticingly sweet indie pop. The boys added multi-instrumentalist Maya Laner this fall, and she’s already paying dividends. In September, this quartet from Berkeley, California released the Aldgate EP via Bandcamp.

There’s a Beatles meets Vampire Weekend vibe to Aldgate. Full of fun, jangly pop songs, Local Hero keeps it light and entertaining. - The Dadada


Local Hero has released a new single called Lady Wisconsin after the success of their debut album `The Aldgate`. To no avail, they have created yet another beauty full of surf pop vibes and the oh so fitting vocals of Alex MacKay.

I had to listen to this song a few times to really get to the meaning of it and from what I`ve gathered, it is a tale of the chase dreams throughout a relationship. The back and forth, between the soothing vocal whispers to Lady Wisconsin`s fruitful rejections. The song gives a really nice look into the chase of a relationship and hints on that if you are persistent, you might just win over your love. In the end, it seems as though Wisconsin falls and that`s right when the instruments collide and create a masterful indie rock sound.

Not to mention, Maya Laner`s back-up vocals add such a serene element to the song mixed with her soft acoustic riffs. Beautiful composition as always from Local Hero. - On My Radar


Maya, a member of Local Hero, has recently released her own rendition of the 1963 classic Why Don't They Let Us Fall in Love by The Ronettes and I must say that this is an absolutely stunning cover!

Maya has such a talent and at only 18, she is able to produce such a high quality track. Not only is she a talented singer, but she also recorded the rest of the song using an instrumental ensemble including a ukulele, acoustic guitar, and an accordion. That is pretty impressive.

Alright, so I'm a little late getting to this review (as I have seen a few other blogs post it already), but i just can't resist. Between her contribution to Lady Wisconsin and this cover, I am extremely excited to hear more. The band's career as a whole is going to explode. Just wait.

Update: I am already finding myself singing along to this cover. I'll admit it. - On My Radar


The young and talented Berkeley indie-pop oufit Local Hero are at it again. After the success of their debut EP The Aldgate, they’ve released the first single off their upcoming album. “Lady Wisconsin” begins with lead vocalist Alex Mackay’s remark “well she’s got something special/she don’t believe me…” and the soft strumming of guitars. The trajectory of the song then takes a pleasant turn as Mackay is echoed by the soft spoken but ever graceful Maya Laner: their harmonizing feels rather natural and unforced considering it is Laner’s first track as a member. Afro-drums (by Leo Grossman) and piano (from the dangerously German Max Hirtz-Wolf) take the backseat, but provide much of the force which propels the song forward.

The lyrics are one of the distinguishing features of this gem. Mackay paints imagery that capture the essence of relationships with original and evocative semantics that hint at the failure of those romantic pursuits. A captivating and uplifting guitar solo leads into the second major push of the song– the discovery and infatuation with Lady Wisconsin. The change is mood is clearly signaled with a growing tenderness and repetition: “won’t you love me/won’t you love me now.” The end of the song is upbeat enough to give us a clue as to the ending: I think it’s safe to say love was reciprocated by Wisconsin.

Enjoy the stream below, and the free download. Also make sure to check out the music video, which captures the essence of the group’s studio recording in Richmond. - The Metropolitan Jolt


Maya Laner is the female singer and multi-instrumentalist for Berkeley indie-pop group Local Hero. She went from “just me in my room (playing music), and small performances for friends and family” to professional recording sessions, shows for hundreds of people, band practices and more responsibilities when she joined the group this fall.

But being in the band hasn’t extinguished the private experience of creating and recording music for herself, and in this case a “special friend.” Her cover of The Ronettes, a 1960's all girls pop group, has a light pop feel. Listen to the lyrics though, which were carefully layered by Maya, and you’ll be overwhelmed by angst and longing for something that has been denied to you. Laner communicates the pop, and the emotions, which apparent ease. Uke parts blend together with equally numerous vocal overlays, an accordion jangle, acoustic guitar, and some irresistible clapping.

The two things that impress me about the back story for this song are that Maya is only 18 years young, and that she recorded and mixed this clean cover with Garageband. There’s nothing immature or bootleg about this cover, however. That’s the impressive part. Sure there are plenty of young musicians out there, and plenty of low budget covers, but this one doesn’t feel like either. It’s more like a 20-something went into a recording studio. Enjoy the stream+download below. - The Metropolitan Jolt


Take yourself back to those days of teenage love, guys and gals. You’d stare longingly into that special someone’s eyes in your third-period history class, and they’d flash a smile back at you, maybe look away embarrassed, and the spark was fanned into flame. And, like all teenagers, things seemed super dramatic. Those glances, those smirks, those relationships — they seemed like they’d last forever. And sure, for some they did last. And for others, it’s just a pleasant memory to flip through when you pop in that romantic comedy starring that new teenage heartthrob, and just kind of let your mind wander.

The barriers always seem a little taller, a little more precarious, when they’re keeping us from the ones we love. Enter Maya Laner, 18, the newest member of the talented teenage foursome that is Local Hero. She’s a multi-instrumentalist who plays the mandolin, organ, ukulele and accordion and — as we find out most prominently on this cover of The Ronettes’ 1963 hit she recently put together — can sing. Laner layered three of those instruments, some acoustic guitar, and a few vocal pieces to create this plainspoken cover of “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall In Love?” It’s a heartwarming spin, and it’d be perfect on any Valentine’s Day commercial or mixtape. And it’s a little different than the exuberant beach rock we’ve heard so far from Laner’s band. Give it a listen and a download below. - The Wounded Jukebox


Maya Laner of Local Hero (we featured their single “Lady Wisconsin” back in December) recently recorded the sweetest little cover song we ever did hear.

Her rendition of The Ronettes’ 1963 classic “”Why Don’t They Let Us Fall In Love” is delicate, and weaves ukelele, vocal overlays, acoustic guitar, and an accordion.

Oh, and she blended the instrumentals herself! Not bad for an 18 year old. Not bad at all.

We know it’s not Valentine’s Day yet, but go ahead. Forward this to your special someone. Or just download it for yourself, for free, on SoundCloud. - Indie Shuffle


Nine times out of ten, when we hear a new Ronettes cover, it’s “Be My Baby.” We get so many, in fact, that we devoted our first-ever Five Good Covers post to the song. So today we’re happy to premiere a cover of a different Ronettes song. It comes from Maya Laner, singer for Berkley quartet Local Hero, who takes on “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall in Love?”

Laner places layers of sugar-sweet vocals and soft ukulele atop accordion and guitar for this delicate lament. “The vibe of my cover was inspired by The Morning Benders’ take off of their EP The Bedroom Covers,” she tells us. “I was feeling the acoustic spin they put on it, but I wanted mine to have more of an old school vibe, to be more true to the original. That meant a lot of vocal harmonies.” - Cover Me


Over winter break I had the distinct pleasure of seeing four phenomenal bands live at the New Parish Theater in Oakland.
The night kicked off with our very own Berkeley–based band, Local Hero, which delighted as usual. As the quintet got the crowd boogying to their quirky, surf–pop jams their front man Alex Mackay debuted his most recent single, “Lady Wisconsin”.

The crowd oohed and aahed over his sincere crooning as he and the newest addition to the band, Maya Laner, half-whispered and half–purred into the microphone. They kept the energy up with a rendition of the Stroke’s “Last Night” that even the aforementioned band’s front man, Julian Casablancas, would have approved of.

Local Hero set not only the bar for the night, but with it a lighthearted, effervescent tone that would be tangible up until the final chords of the evening were strummed.

Local Hero was followed by a band called the Tumbleweed Wanderers. I had previously happened upon them busking on Shattuck and fell in love with their Fleet Foxes–esque harmonies and eagerly anticipated more of what they describe as “Americana rock”.

The Tumbleweed Wanderers delivered a genre–blending blast with originals such as “Take it All Back”, featuring an addictive recurring guitar riff, gratuitous horn and harp lines and pitch perfect harmonies that melded together into a sweet but not saccharine tune with a punch. Much to my dismay, their stage presence was not up to par with their sound, and I found myself thinking more and more that these guys belonged in an urban coffee shop performing for scruffy hipsters, not the more eclectic group that had assembled at the New Parish that evening.

An all-girl ensemble called The She’s strutted onstage shortly after, and began crooning their unapologetic sassy surf-rock harmonies, electrifying the crowd with their The–Ronettes–meets–The–Ramones punk prettiness.

The She’s boasted breezy guitar riffs and bass lines you couldn’t not bob your head to, plus they scored major brownie points for their glitter dripping Gibsons. They held their own as not only the sole female group of the night but also as the youngest, as its members averaged 17 years old. These gals spurred a frenzy of finger snapping and shimmying with their undeniably catchy west coast garage pop.

Closing out the night was Finish Ticket, who performed a mix of songs from their EP’s Life Underwater and Shake a Symphony. These heartthrobs honed in on an aesthetic that draws inspiration from alternative–rock chart–toppers like Coldplay and The Killers, but their tunes were evocative of another Bay Area favorite, Dizzy Balloon. At this point the crowd had dwindled significantly and there were few left to appreciate the closing act. Despite this regrettable fact they gave their performance their all, dancing enthusiastically enough to constitute a session at the gym. Their earnestness was genuine and endearing, not to mention that the vocalist’s soaring falsetto made me wonder if he has a background in opera.

The tickets were dirt–cheap, but the music was rich with throbbing basslines, swoon–worthy harmonies and adolescent antics.

I would have been willing to pay more and would jump at the opportunity to see each of these bands individually. The lineup was well–composed and the bands, possessing similar elements, but contrasting enough so as not to bore, complemented one another ideally.

Local Hero, Tumbleweed Wanderers, The She’s and Finish Ticket were all of a high musical caliber and impressive despite being fresh on the music scene. I was thoroughly entertained throughout the entire show, and although they’re all relatively low profile groups, all four bands put some of the superstars I’ve seen live to shame. - The Berkeley High Jacket


It’s a lovely thing to see a band grow and change from when you first discover them. Local Hero, which consists of four very young Berkeley, California kids, has the potential to blow up far and wide beyond the west coast, and they’re trying their damnedest to do just that. What began as three dudes with a gift for writing simple, melodic, catchy surf-rock tunes is now a foursome, as Local Hero has added a female touch with multi-instrumentalist Maya Laner. The band is set to record its debut full-length after wowing lots of people with The Aldgate EP, a strong debut, to be sure. The first single from that forthcoming album — for which the band will launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund very soon — is called “Lady Wisconsin,” and it represents their first recording with the four-member crew.

What’s endearing about “Lady Wisconsin” isn’t just the click-and-clack percussion elements or the guitar-strumming and piano-plinking melody, it’s the lyrical snapshots we get here, voiced in an understated manner by Laner and lead vocalist/guitarist Alex MacKay. It’s like flipping through the diary of a teenager in love, eventually settling on a little poem written just for that special someone. Download “Lady Wisconsin” below, and be sure to keep an eye out for new developments from Local Hero. - The Wounded Jukebox


Indie Shuffle is excited to exclusively premiere Local Hero’s new single “Lady Wisconsin.” This will be the first release off the Berkeley-based four piece’s full-length album, which they’re currently working on.

Leo Grossman (drums), Max Hirtz-Wolf (bass, piano), Maya Laner (vocals, multi-instrumentalist), and Alex MacKay (lead vocals, guitar) released their EP, The Aldgate, back in September, and since then have been gaining momentum in the blogosphere (which can be a pretty competitive space!). It’s no surprise why — Local Hero’s songs are nostalgic yet deliciously upbeat folk pop, the kind of music that sometimes even the most talented of artists can never master. But Local Hero is getting it right. Not to mention, all of the band members are under the age of 20 and they are already being compared to Fleet Foxes, Girls, Local Natives, The Strokes, and Vampire Weekend.

Their new single, “Lady Wisconsin,” is lovely in its simplicity, with a harmonious collection of guitars, pared down drums, piano, and even an accordion. The song is broken up nicely with bursts of frolicking guitar, and the lyrics conjure images of new love, lost love, and all those feelings in between. You’ll want to put “Lady Wisconsin” on repeat, I guarantee you.

I think I speak for most listeners when I say that Local Hero is bursting with talent. I’m excited for their full-length — they’re an artist to watch in 2012, that’s for damn sure.

San Francisco Bay Area folks, you can catch them this Thursday at the New Parish over in the East Bay. - Indie Shuffle


Indie Shuffle is excited to exclusively premiere Local Hero’s new single “Lady Wisconsin.” This will be the first release off the Berkeley-based four piece’s full-length album, which they’re currently working on.

Leo Grossman (drums), Max Hirtz-Wolf (bass, piano), Maya Laner (vocals, multi-instrumentalist), and Alex MacKay (lead vocals, guitar) released their EP, The Aldgate, back in September, and since then have been gaining momentum in the blogosphere (which can be a pretty competitive space!). It’s no surprise why — Local Hero’s songs are nostalgic yet deliciously upbeat folk pop, the kind of music that sometimes even the most talented of artists can never master. But Local Hero is getting it right. Not to mention, all of the band members are under the age of 20 and they are already being compared to Fleet Foxes, Girls, Local Natives, The Strokes, and Vampire Weekend.

Their new single, “Lady Wisconsin,” is lovely in its simplicity, with a harmonious collection of guitars, pared down drums, piano, and even an accordion. The song is broken up nicely with bursts of frolicking guitar, and the lyrics conjure images of new love, lost love, and all those feelings in between. You’ll want to put “Lady Wisconsin” on repeat, I guarantee you.

I think I speak for most listeners when I say that Local Hero is bursting with talent. I’m excited for their full-length — they’re an artist to watch in 2012, that’s for damn sure.

San Francisco Bay Area folks, you can catch them this Thursday at the New Parish over in the East Bay. - Indie Shuffle


A new single came from the youthful members of Local Hero and it is entitled "Lady Wisconsin". Much like their previous hit, "Press Box", this track is trounced by MacKay's charming vocals. "Lady Wisconsin" expands their indie pop talents to the playing of a romantic accordion and melancholic whistles.

Right now, the band is the process of making a full length album with "Lady Wisconsin" as a featured track. For an idea of what this wonderful collection will sound like, listen to the song below. If you have completely fallen head over heels for Local Hero, it's not too late to purchase The Aldgate. The Aldgate is an EP from September containing five goodies from the quadruplets. Enjoy! - Earmilk


During my daily browsing of some of my favorite music sites out there, I found this nice gem over at Indie Shuffle. The site had just premiered "Lady Wisconsin" by indie/pop/folk band, Local Hero, who is a brand new find for me. The Berkeley-based band has a quality sound, similar to that of a Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes, and The Strokes. Once you read those three band names, you know that this is something you need to check out.

"Lady Wisconsin" will be on their full length album, which they are currently working on and should be out in 2012. What is also quite impressive is the foursomes age - they are all under 20. So expect big things from these kids. Listen and download below.
- Oh So Fresh! Music


Berkeley-based Local Hero began blessing local audiences with their edgy brand of modern rock two years ago when Alex MacKay, who at that time was a BHS junior, discovered his inner songwriter and began enlisting his friends in an acoustic music-making project. Bassist JoJo Brandel and drummer Leo Grossman were the first musical talents to join MacKay, and together the threesome was known for their sensational performances. For example, at last year's BHS Commencement Ceremonies, their cover of Jimi Hendrix's Foxy Lady was so rousing that the audience in the Greek Theater - about 8500 strong - responded with a wave cheer.
Since that memorable performance, Brandel has moved to Japan, and Local Hero has reinvented itself with additional native talents: bassist Max Hirtz-Wolf and singer Maya Laner - both of whom are now BHS seniors.
After the makeover, Local Hero has increased efforts to record its music, including: The Aldgate - the band's first EP released in September of 2011, and the band's first full-length album, the release of which is imminent. And though rock bands are nothing new in Berkeley, Local Hero is making the most of digital distribution and an ever more discerning global audience to gain a growing following.
"I think people hear our songs and think 'Wow, I'll listen to that!'" commented Grossman about the band's recordings. "It's not just a sympathy listen."
Much of their music takes inspiration from Berkeley, their shared experiences at the high school. For example, last year's Rally Day at BHS inspired the lyrics to their original tune "Pres Box."
In addition to their recording sessions, the band is also playing more live shows. Since their performance at the Greek, Local Hero has played gigs at the Berkeley Repertory Theater and at various fraternity parties. In terms of upcoming performances, Local Hero will play at The New Parish Music Hall in Oakland on December 22nd. For ticket info or to sample their music, go to www.localheroband.com. - The Berkeley Times


Local Hero have just recently released their first EP entitled The Aldgate. I am very impressed with this EP as it has that early spark that a band just starting out always has. The Aldgate is full of energy and upbeat catchy vibes worthy of your regular indie iTunes playlist. Every single one of their songs are really amazing.

With hints of surf rock (probably from their California roots), I can't help but be drawn to their music.

"The group is the product of four remarkably average Berkeley youths, Jojo Brandel of Please Quiet Ourselves, Leo Grossman and Max Hirtz-Wolf of Rikoche, and Alex MacKay, the one who doesn't have his own band. "

One thing that should be mentioned is the vocals. I think what really encapsulates me is the lead. He has such a very distinct voice and it's rather ... well .. perfect for their style of music. The vocals coincide extremely well with the guitar. They match. That's probably where the chemistry of the band comes in, a chemistry that enables a group to make such great music.

"Alex discovered his long-dormant songwriting mechanism during the summer of 2009. Having always admired the refined musical stylings of PQO, Alex quickly enlisted Mr. Brandel and Señor Grossman to his group. The initial results were promising, and the trio began recording with the indefatigable Aki Ehara in Richmond during December of '09. Five long months passed, with Jojo departing on a lengthy expedition to the Orient and eventually returning in May of the following year. Recording resumed, and after an interminably long time, they released their first EP, The Aldgate, on September 12th 2011." - On My Radar


Local Hero have just recently released their first EP entitled The Aldgate. I am very impressed with this EP as it has that early spark that a band just starting out always has. The Aldgate is full of energy and upbeat catchy vibes worthy of your regular indie iTunes playlist. Every single one of their songs are really amazing.

With hints of surf rock (probably from their California roots), I can't help but be drawn to their music.

"The group is the product of four remarkably average Berkeley youths, Jojo Brandel of Please Quiet Ourselves, Leo Grossman and Max Hirtz-Wolf of Rikoche, and Alex MacKay, the one who doesn't have his own band. "

One thing that should be mentioned is the vocals. I think what really encapsulates me is the lead. He has such a very distinct voice and it's rather ... well .. perfect for their style of music. The vocals coincide extremely well with the guitar. They match. That's probably where the chemistry of the band comes in, a chemistry that enables a group to make such great music.

"Alex discovered his long-dormant songwriting mechanism during the summer of 2009. Having always admired the refined musical stylings of PQO, Alex quickly enlisted Mr. Brandel and Señor Grossman to his group. The initial results were promising, and the trio began recording with the indefatigable Aki Ehara in Richmond during December of '09. Five long months passed, with Jojo departing on a lengthy expedition to the Orient and eventually returning in May of the following year. Recording resumed, and after an interminably long time, they released their first EP, The Aldgate, on September 12th 2011." - On My Radar


Local Hero are a band that will be heard. The unsigned group consists of Berkeley, CA natives Alex MacKay, Maya Laner, Max Hirtz-Wolf, and Leo Grossman, all of whom are under 20 years of age.

The band’s first EP, Aldgate was independently released in September of this year. Each song is well-written, well-played, and well-mixed… and could be singles in their own right. Their sound is a mixture of dreamy surf rock, dub, and fun global indie pop and is uncommonly refined for a band of youngins doing it on their own.

Talent and versatility like this is sure to get them snatched up by a smart label soon. They can be seen playing gigs around the Bay Area and have an upcoming show at Oakland’s New Parish on December 22nd. Get on it. - The Owl Mag


Ces trois kids viennent de Berkeley en Californie, il ont à peine 20 ans et pourtant leur rock est hallucinant. Ca sonne terriblement bien, prenez « The Gold Coast » : Un son hazy qui t’emporte bien comme il faut relevé par cette guitare qui glisse et sonne comme l’été, ces petits choeurs lo-filisant à base de « Shalala Shalala », de *clic* et de *clac clac*. Local Hero est définitivement un groupe très prometteur à l’image des tous aussi juvéniles Smith Westerns. Leur premier EP « The Aldgate » vient de sortir et AnotherWhisky est le premier blog Français à vous le faire découvrir.
Local Hero, vous allez en entendre parler. - Another Whiskey for Mister Bukowski (French)


From the first four chords of opener “Barcelona Daydream,” it’s easy to tell that The Aldgate, the debut EP by Berkeley, CA’s Local Hero, is going to be a pleasant affair. The band has a knack for undeniable pop hooks that echo throughout the EP’s 19-minute playing time, making for a light, breezy album just in time for the end of summer.

Much like their Southern California contemporaries The Smiles, Local Hero has captured the sound of summer with sing-alongs and catchy guitar-work that harkens back to the “golden era” of surf pop. Sunny guitar lines build to a ska rhythm on “Indoor Winters,” channeling the Afropop beats of preppy New York quartet Vampire Weekend. Local Hero alternates between the simple and the complex, from the bouncy, straightforward pop tune “The Cold Months” to “Press Box,” which shows them at their most dynamic. Here, the band experiments with the push and pull of restrained vocals and a combination of acoustic and electric instrumentation as vocalist Alex MacKay half-whispers, half-sings over the beach-y arrangements.

Unfortunately it’s these vocals that can also be the most disappointing part of The Aldgate. MacKay is often too hushed and soft-spoken, and while stronger vocalists have been able to turn this into their MO (see: the self-wallowing Chris Owens of Girls), MacKay lacks the bravado or confidence to pull off such a feat. Instead his airy voice regrettably lingers, sometimes lathered in too much reverb that threatens to undo the solid work of his lyrics or the instrumentals.

But that doesn’t mean this EP is without its moments: the Beach Boys-influenced “ooh-ooh” backing vocals, upbeat surf guitars, and overall pop sensibility all fit together perfectly to make this an easily enjoyable summer record. “Gold Coast” is the standout track here, combining the best elements of the ‘50s and ‘60s beach pop to make a nostalgic love song complete with handclaps and sha-la-la melodies. On The Aldgate, Local Hero proves that, when done right, some sounds can in fact be timeless.

We have The Aldgate streaming below. And according to the band’s Twitter, we can look forward to a music video in the near future. - The Metropolitan Jolt


Local Hero, an aspiring Berkeley group, has just released their first extended play album, The Aldgate, with five tracks. Three of the group are connected with Berkeley High while the fourth attends College Prep in North Oakland.

“This is the first time we’ve had something for sale,” said Alex MacKay, lead singer and guitarist for the group. MacKay graduated from BHS in June and has deferred admission to the University of Toronto for a year to pursue his music and to travel. “It’s a real point of satisfaction to have a completed product out there.”

The group performed at last June’s Berkeley High graduation, and has also had gigs at a number of local venues, including Ashkenaz, Blake’s and Caffé Trieste. Current bassist Max Hirtz-Wolf is now a BHS senior, former bassist JoJo Brandel also graduated from BHS in June, and drummer Leo Grossman is currently a senior at College Prep.

Music blog Metrojolt gave The Aldgate a generally positive review: “The band has a knack for undeniable pop hooks that echo throughout the EP’s 19-minute playing time, making for a light, breezy album just in time for the end of summer.”

MacKay said he has long been interested in songwriting as well as performing, but lacked confidence until his sophomore year at BHS. He wrote what he described as “a bitter, angry song about a girl”, and that seems to have broken a logjam.

The group is planning to make a music video soon, and hopes to schedule some more local gigs. “Our fan base took a hit when everyone went to college,” said MacKay.

MacKay says his favorite group — “far and away” — is Vampire Weekend, and there are definite touches of the New York indie band in the five songs of The Aldgate. You can download The Gold Coast for free here, or listen to the album streaming here: - Berkeleyside


A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to some talented young guys from Berkeley, CA. I've contacted them to ask if we could do a small interview. They responded right away so here is the result from that interview. You can listen to them a few posts below this one. Enjoy!

TMB: You guys are all very young, can you tell our followers who you are and how you got the band together?

Local Hero: We’re four 17 and 18-year-olds from Berkeley. Our original bassist, Jojo, is currently adventuring in Japan. Originally I envisioned Local Hero as more of an acoustic project between Leo, Jojo and me. That was sometime during my junior year of high school. The whole project sorta tumbled along from there. We pretty quickly dropped the idea of a purely acoustic project and the whole thing got terrifically out of hand. So we added Max to the group maybe 3 or 4 months back. Then Maya’s our newest member—she joined maybe a month ago.

TMB: You just finished The Aldgate EP. How would you describe the songs on it? I assume it was your first EP, how was the experience of making it?

Local Hero: Recording is such a mixed bag. It can be intensely satisfying and engaging, but it can also be the most frustrating thing in the world. Especially when you’re running six and seven hour sessions.

I probably spent a collective 100 hours in the studio spread out over around 20 individual sessions. And that’s on five songs! Granted, we spent considerably more time than we needed to in the mixing and tracking process.

Coming up with new parts while you’re in the studio can get you in trouble. If the inspiration isn’t there, you’re gonna have a hell of a time trying to come up with something, and can easily squander an hour trying to craft a part. It’s pretty wasteful. Needless to say, we’re going to try to avoid that next time we go to record.

We finished recording the songs on the EP 6 months ago, and since then so much has changed…you can understand why I’m eager to get back to work.

A lot of effort goes into releasing something like this. There are a lot of bases to cover. Even once recording and mixing is done, you have to design album artwork, register with the RIAA, get a bar code, get the music mastered… John Cuniberti did a great job mastering The Aldgate. The whole thing’s been a great big learning experience for us in terms of what’s required to fully release a record. Hopefully everything will be more streamlined in the future.

TMB: Now you have released the EP, how do you see the future? And are you already working on some new stuff?

Local Hero: We have 7 or 8 new, unrecorded originals that we’ve been working on. I’m incredibly excited to get back into the studio. Not to cast any dirt on our EP, but I think I’ve been writing progressively better songs, and I think the band’s become tighter and more versatile since we finished recording The Aldgate.

We’re currently looking at a wide variety of studios and engineers to work with. We’re considering recording on tape this time. We might look into doing something at Tiny Telephone—where Jojo recorded his second album with Moe Meguro—or at New, Improved studios in Berkeley. We’re hoping to entirely track the album in no more than seven days or so.

We’ll be playing as many shows as possible in the next year. We’re doing stuff in the East Bay but also San Francisco, Davis and maybe Santa Cruz. We just played a sold-out show at the Berkeley Rep student theater and that was very encouraging, and hopefully we’ll have some more stuff coming down the pipeline.

TMB: You said Vampire Weekend is your favorite band, how do they influence Local Hero? And when you first started playing music, who was the reason you started playing?

Local Hero: Listening to Vampire Weekend, and Ezra Koenig in particular, have hugely influenced how I write songs. The vocal melodies on the first Vampire Weekend album are incredible. Vampire Weekend and the Beatles are the only two bands where I’ll find myself spontaneously humming one of their songs without having heard them earlier that day. Their melodies just seem to come very easily to the ear for some reason. But they accomplish this without sounding too derivative, and that’s hugely important.

A perfect pop song has a melody that the listener wants to sing. Listen to With the Beatles and you’ll hear what I’m talking about. “All My Loving” has one of the most beautiful, natural melodies of any song I know. To some extent that’s the goal. And we’re definitely making pop music. It’s can be dressed up however you want, and Local Hero might feel closer to what people identify as “rock”, “indie rock”, or what have you. But fundamentally our songs are pop songs.

Many people may not realize it, but 90% of music we listen to is pop. The Ramones played pop. Modest Mouse plays pop. It’s pretty hard to find something that isn’t pop music.

TMB: Thank you for doing this very small interview for us. Do you have something to share with our followers?

Local Hero: Hopefully we’re gonna have a new demo or two up for free download within the month. It’s still in the planning stage, but I’m already really excited. It’ll be our first studio recording with both Max and Maya on the tracks, so keep an ear out for that. And keep reading the Music Beam! - The Music Beam


None of Local Hero’s members have even reached 20 years old, but you wouldn’t know it by their low key, chilled-out surf rock jams. Sure, there’s plenty of youthful energy at work with this Berkeley, California band, but they manage to harness it into five songs that lean on strong guitar licks and that hazy summer vibe. And I think the rough edges that still exist here only serve to make the hooks and melodies more genuine, more earnest.

Just listen to the riff and “ahh ahh” backing vocals that open up “Gold Coast,” and you know you’re in for a treat. The lyrics read like a sort of tongue-in-cheek apology for embracing a fast-and-loose lifestyle, and there’s enough sha la la’s and lazy strumming to make the musical mood fit the words. If these guys are making music this enjoyable as teenagers, I can’t wait to see and hear what they’re up to in their 20's and beyond.

Download “Gold Coast” below, and stream Local Hero’s debut EP The Aldgate in its entirety as well. “The Cold Months” and “Indoor Winters” — perhaps two song titles you’d not expect to see from a California band — are catchy favorites as well. - The Wounded Jukebox


Young Berkeley upstarts Local Hero recently dropped their debut EP, ‘The Aldgate’, to great acclaim from the press. At just 19 minutes long, the EP showcases the band’s knack for creating pop hooks like Girls and Vampire Weekend while maintaining a slacker sensibility with their lo-fi sound. ‘Press Box’ is our highlight, and it shows Local Hero at their ragged best. - The Music Ninja


In correspondence to Local Natives, this five piece band with the name of Local Hero delivers a similar buoyant pop vibe. The Aldgate is their first ever EP and it is only nineteen minutes long. These guys picked the appeals of Vampire Weekend, The Strokes, and Girls to make 5 melodious songs on this EP.

My obsession with tropical music and bittersweet lyrics instantly pulled me to “Press Box.” Listen carefully to Mackay’s mature voice. The remarkable thing about Local Hero is the truth behind “Barcelona Daydream,” they “like the city but are too young.” Members of the band are all under the age of twenty! - Earmilk


Discography

The Aldgate EP - Released September 12th, 2011.

The Cold Months (Single) - Released May 27th, 2010

"The Gold Coast" has been getting consistent airplay on UCSD's KSDT Radio, particularly during Metrojolt Radio Hour on Mondays. KSDT also gave "Lady Wisconsin" a pre-release screening.

All five songs from the EP have also been playing regularly on Portland Radio 94.7 FM during their Young Guns Northwest segment on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The Aldgate is streaming in full at http://soundcloud.com/herolocal

Photos

Bio

We released our first EP, "The Aldgate", in late September. In the brief time since its release, the EP has garnered a very positive reaction from online press, receiving coverage from sites like Earmilk, The Wounded Jukebox and the Metropolitan Jolt. The EP also made SF Rebirth's "Best in the West" list with a 4 1/2 star review.

Originally we envisioned Local Hero as an acoustic experiment of sorts. That was sometime during our junior year of high school. We quickly went electric and then the whole thing got terrifically out of hand.

After welcoming the dangerously German bassist Max Hirtz-Wolf to the group, as well as the blonde she-devil Maya Laner on voice and keys, Local Hero has been gigging regularly to rave reviews. In the past couple months alone, we've played a sold-out show at the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, ventured outside of the bay area for a show in Davis, CA, and played an excellently-received show at Oakland's New Parish Music Hall. We're incredibly excited for what's coming down the pipeline.

We just our first single since the EP - "Lady Wisconsin", and we're recording a full-length LP this March at John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studios.

We've performed at venues around the San Francisco Bay Area including the 12,000-seat Greek Theatre, the Barrel House, Blake’s on Telegraph, The New Parish and Ashkenaz.