CMJ New Music - Ham Fisted

It doesn't take many people to make a big noise - Illinois' Local H consists of two people, but makes a racket that mushrooms out as if there were five or six folks involved. The band goes for the big, anthemic move whenever it can, on the principle that shouting a chorus is more memorable than just singing it. Singer/guitarist Scott Lucas knows how to make the most of his voice (listen to his Nirvana-fied rasp in the crest-and-crash of "Sports Bar"), and power-chords and power-solos his way through every track-on the songs without bass, you don't miss it at all. Drummer Joe Daniels complements him nicely, bashing away unsubtly enough to fill in whatever gaps the guitar leaves. Local H also has lots to say about the rest of the rock world: "Grrrlfriend" is a nod to Kathleen Hanna, "Mayonnaise And Malaise" takes on fast food and the Smashing Pumpkins at the same time, and "Chicago Fanphair"'s subject isn't tough to figure out. Check out "Feed" (with a screamed chorus of "I don't need my ego fed"), "Bag Of Hammers" and the frothing-at-the-mouth "Skid Marks."

Douglas Wolk