Local H Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? (Studio E)

Local H are hard rock's bad penny. Sprung from Chicago's crusty loins in the early Nineties, the dastardly duo did the one-hit thing with "Bound to the Floor" -- a.k.a. "the copasetic song" -- and promptly tumbled down the well-worn road of label and lineup overhauls. Regardless, maestro Scott Lucas' inextinguishable brand of snotty, low-end rawk has cemented a rabid fan base, one that will drool all over H's fifth CD. Chugging riffs, mordant howls and rousing rhythms billow out of Whatever Happened (and reek of slow, Sabbath drone-age on the ten-minute "Buffalo Trace"). Lucas spews forth a fresh supply of bitter sarcasm, devoting the album to an Eighties B-grade actress and conjuring classic H humor on the canny anthem "California Songs" ("Please, no more California songs . . . and fuck New York, too"). A little fat could be trimmed from the hour-long crumpet, but all in all, it's another stoner victory over the jocks. KURT ORZECK