The audio of a Chicago train rolling against cold, metal tracks sets the scene for Local H’s ambitious seventh studio album: Hallelujah! I’m a Bum. Front-man Scott Lucas writes about the problems fragmented politics can have on everyday people and how that makes things like getting through a winter particularly bleak. In between songs, there’s a short interview clip of a man saying he’s only riding on the train to stay out of the bone-chilling winter. And then again, there is an indecipherable chatter going on in one track until Lucas tells them to listen up. “Shut up,” he says. Local H has the podium now.
WPGU’s Monday Mixer this week talked about the rising popularity of nostalgia in music, but Local H is staying away from it. References to Obama in “They Saved Reagan’s Brain”, and audio of Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney show that Lucas wanted to focus on songs relatable for today and to be the type of band that still matters to its fans. I listened to Local H a fair amount but hadn’t seen them live yet so I wondered if they would still have the pissed-off attitude they had in their earlier videos like “Bound to the Floor,” or whether they became well-mannered, middle aged men.
As it turns out, Lucas is still one pissed off individual. He was often giving Cobain-like screams, transitioning fluidly from song to song with guitar feedback, and jumping up and down like a teenager. They did mix in a few of the crowds favorites like “All the Kids are Right,” but took the time to talk about how they were proud of their new album and would play mostly new material. They looked more refreshed playing the new tracks and played them with just as much confidence as their classics. To get the audience involved during “High Fiving MF,” Lucas grabbed the mike off the stand and pointed it to the crowd asking for help. Then he put the microphone in his mouth, held in place by his jaw. Who needs a microphone stand anyway? After a manic 15 second yell while not missing a note on guitar, Lucas crowd surfed back to the merchandise table to end the set.
As for Hallelujah! I’m a Bum, the album is impressive when listening to the full piece, but there aren’t many standout individual songs that could be singles. The music industry stresses having strong individual songs, so for a band to experiment and make a concept album that goes against this standard shows Local H’s guts. Lucas’ voice is just as crisp as the mid ‘90s (which is a mystery with how much he screams) and the elaborate country song “Look Who’s Walking on Four Legs Again” sounded even better in its stripped down live form. Lucas shows his brilliance as a punk rock song writer, but also opens up on more reflective songs. The opening song’s structure is the same as the ending song, a nice bookend to end Local H’s most outward looking albums.
Rating: W — P — G
Key Tracks: “Blue Line”, “They Saved Reagan’s Brain”, and “Look Who’s Walking on Four Legs Again”
RIYL: Toadies, Queens of the Stone Age, and Foo Fighters
Check out : “They Saved Reagan’s Brain” here: