Records: Local H's Pack Up the Cats

First, put one foot in front of the other. Repeat, and you're walking. Then you put a piece of Bubblicious in your mouth, and move your jaws. Now you're walking and chewing gum at the same time. But lots of people can do that.

So you move on to bigger and better things: music. First you learn to play guitar. Lead, no; rhythm, yes. Then you start shouting, or rather, singing. Now you're singing and playing guitar at the same time. That's swell, but lots of people can do that too.

So you're okay at the whole singing-plus-guitar thing, but your big fingers get tired of you and pick up a bass. Now you can play both guitar and bass. So you fuse them into one instrument, play that, and don't forget to sing. If you did all this, you'd be Scott Lucas, frontman of Local H, and all you'd need to complete your band would be a drummer-or an extra set of hands.

Five guys make up some of the best bands. Four make up tons. Three works too. But two guys aren't supposed to sound like this. Remember Nirvana? That's basically how Lucas and drummer Joe Daniels sound. Those Nirvana fans out there--admit it--who loved that music because it seemed raw and stupid and so damn catchy, and because it made them think they could be rock stars too, will be duly pleased by Pack Up the Cats. It is more-more-more guitar rock, with all its blunt energy and a willingness to be listened to by the ridiculously drunk.

The fact that Local H is a duo isn't particularly amazing, except that they sound like more. And this isn't Siamese Dream-style one-man-band-recording-one-instrument-at-a-time stuff either, with disgruntled D'Arcy and irate Iha waiting for the tour to start so they can plug in. Lucas does it all at once without noticeable sacrifice. He, Daniels, and producer Roy Thomas Baker spent plenty of time hammering this album into shape so that now we can remember we've heard something like this before.

New melodies, new hooks, a few catchy lines and here we have it: meant more to be enjoyed now than to be appreciated in five years. If this is the ultimate mission, Pack Up the Cats is a great album. What is worth appreciating, if nothing else, is that these two brave souls posed with 10 cats for the album's back cover. Not even Nirvana did that. (Island/Polygram)

By Daniel McGarry