Local H – Local H’s Awesome Mix Tape #1 – Review

localh200Local H

Local H’s Awesome Mix Tape #1 (G&P)
by Scott Deckman

Local H sounds reenergized on Local H’s Awesome Mix Tape #1, a batch of cover songs that’s technically an EP but more like a mini-album with a “hidden” eighth song (that in modern digital times looks the same on your Window Media Player or iTunes, so the hidden track is kinda superfluous). Better yet, there are a limited number of cassette versions being done up as well; talk about your kitschy marketing ploy. Their last effort, Twelve Angry Months, certainly had some highlights – Lucas isn’t likely to ever have a total dud under the H moniker – but it was also the weakest Local H offering to date. It almost seemed he had run out of ideas, and a subsequent milder turn with side project, Scott Lucas & the Married Men, may’ve underscored that fact. While the peaks here don’t succeed the highs of Twelve Angry Months, it is a much more consistent effort, and the band manages to capture a sound somewhere between Here Comes the Zoo, a tidal-force rock album if there ever was one, and follow-up, The No Fun EP, with the balance shading to the latter’s no-frills production. I’m not sure when these songs were recorded, but it doesn’t make much difference.

On Local H’s Awesome Mix Tape #1 you’re treated to big fat fuzzy chords, forceful singing, and balls, the Local H people see live, right here on record, err, tape. And, of course, wunderkind drummer Brian St. Clair shines as always, who, while he has a slightly spazzier style, is every bit the drummer original skin-slammer Joe Daniels was. And he was one of the best in the biz. Some bands are lucky to get and keep one good drummer. Lucas got two gems, which is especially important given that Local H has always gone the duo route. Who knows what he’s got on them?

I have to admit I’m only familiar with three of these covers, and TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me” isn’t one of them. But it’s one of the record’s highlights. After listening to this a few times (and the imaginative original), you have no doubt that Lucas is “Wolf Like Me.” The cat ain’t lying. Like it or not (and why not?), the centerpiece for at least the casual fan is follow-up “Joey” from Concrete Blonde. Here Lucas infuses just as much emotion as Johnette Napolitano did 20 years ago, a rocking gender-bender he ain’t ashamed of. After all, a great song is a great song. It’s probably the best cover I’ve heard them do; “Wolf Like Me” is a contender as well.

Agent Orange’s “Blood Stains” is subdued (and spelled differently than the original), streamlined hardcore, and on “Time,” Lucas manages to make Pink Floyd listenable. While “Joey” will get the press, the favorite for music snobs and hoary oldsters all will likely be closer (and hidden track) “Last Caress,” a Misfits signature tune. To say it’s played a bit different than Danzig and company is an understatement. Here is Lucas, bare except an acoustic guitar, singing intimately about raping and killing, saying it doesn’t matter as long it’s dead. What a motherfucker this guy.

Local H. Welcome back.