Here Comes the Zoo from audio galaxy

by David Mo


Consider the plight of the band fashion forgot. When Local H released their first album, 1995ís Ham Fisted, their emotional intensity and full-bore sonic sludge allowed them entry to the grunge clubhouse, with perks of membership including radio play and press attention. In 2002, that particular palace has fallen to dust, and one couldnít be blamed for expecting any new album by a grunge band to sound hopelessly dated, irrelevant, maybe even kitschy.

And, from the blur of headbanger hair on the cover to the squalling guitar solos and impassioned vocals on the disc, itís clear that the bandís just-released Here Comes the Zoo is not the sort of overpolished, faux-angst post-grunge that still occasionally invades the charts. This is unadorned, direct, loud music, with solid hooks just under the squall. Itís unfashionably raw, unfashionably political, unfashionably ironic ("Rock and Roll Professionals" . In other words, itís good old American rock ní roll, motherfckers, which is pretty much all grunge was in the first place.

Here Comes the Zoo is hardly the greatest rock ní roll ever recorded. The hooks canít begin to compete with those of Nevermind or Badmotorfinger, and there are occasional lapses of overproduction. I could nitpick, but whatever its shortcomings, this is something for everyone who feels a little out of place in todayís image-obsessed, polished music marketplace. Even better, it's more than just regression Ė more and more, the essence of grunge is being tweaked and repackaged as Stoner Rock, and Local H have made a few nods in that direction (including a guest appearance from a member of Queens of the Stone Age). Fashion may have left them behind once, but Local H may yet find themselves in the right clubhouse.

3 1/2 Stars