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"I'm in love with rock and roll, but that'll change eventually," Local H front man Scott Lucas sang on 1998's Pack Up the Cats. Since then a lot has changed for the Chicago duo -- whom many of you will remember from that song "Bound for the Floor," or "that keep it copacetic song." Longtime drummer Joe Daniels left the band, the band's supporters left Island, and Lucas wound up without a label. This much turmoil would seem like enough to make a lesser man fall out of love with rock and roll. But Lucas persevered, added former Triple Fast Action drummer Brian St. Clair, and if he's soured on rock, he doesn't let on. Instead, Lucas has reinvented Local H and shed the mid-'90s grunge image with a new album, Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles?
Sure, Lucas clearly still wears his influences on his sleeve -- be it the classic rock of Zeppelin and Floyd or the power of Kyuss and Quicksand -- but now he and St. Clair have progressed to a new level by incorporating the best of their influences into an album that greatly differs from their previous five efforts. There's more studio trickery, more actual singing and better-formed songs. And no, Lucas hasn't lost his anger -- he's simply found a way to channel it into better songwriting. There's the sing-along anthem "California Songs," whose chorus goes like this: "Here we go again, it's never gonna end, we're all so sick of California songs / We know you love L.A., there's nothing more to say, please no more California songs / and fuck New York too." Then there's the ten-minute-plus acid-rock epic "Buffalo Trace" -- it's clear that Local H was laying down the rock on P.J. Soles.
Live, Local H is a powerhouse. St. Clair plays drums with a ferocious, Keith Moon-like energy, while Lucas always more than holds his own, whether he's singing or playing bass or guitar. His intensity, coupled with his songwriting skills and the right amounts of angst and humor on stage, are a great combination, and if Lucas's performance at this year's South By Southwest showcase is any indication, expect an excellent show with an interesting cover song or two thrown in.
Locals By the End of Tonight open. Recently signed to Portland's Temporary Residence label (who will release their EP in late summer), the band will get a chance to exhibit its adrenalized mixture of instrumental rock, which is less moody than that of labelmates Explosions in the Sky.
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