Hey, the Stranger is Seattle's underground/alternative newspaper, and this article appeared in the music section. I was surprised, pleasantly.


I Can't Help Myself

by Kathleen Wilson

Local H

Thurs March 21, Graceland, $8.

Writing about music for a living is far from the perfect job. Yes, you get to go to work each day and listen to music. You also get to spend your nights in rock clubs and concert halls, listening to and watching the stuff that drives you to get up early and go to work the next day and do it all over again. Some people are born to form opinions, and the lucky ones--the un-self-consciously pious--form the correct opinions each and every time with no looking back.

I've never been that lucky. Decades after it should have been squelched, I've failed miserably to shake that hick-who-went-to-private-school, knee-jerk love of the loud and deceptively dumb. Therefore, I like a lot of music that, critically, I shouldn't. And I continue to love the stuff that, technically, I should have grown out of. Sometimes, it causes me great grief.

"Wouldn't you rather write about Clinic?" Stranger music editor Jeff DeRoche asked me. (I'd been listening to Clinic for months and he knew I liked the band a lot.) "No," I answered, staring at the ground. "I want to write about Local H." "Are you sure?" he persisted, giving me a kind chance to do the proper thing. By now I'd turned my chair around, my back facing him as my fingers clacked madly, probably answering an e-mail from someone who, in the subject line, got straight to the point by typing simply, "Re: YOU SUCK."

I've liked Clinic for a little over six months. I've loved Local H for over six years. "Aren't they that band who sang that song about keeping it 'copasetic'?" Jeff asked. Yes, but that's a sore subject with me because that song, "Bound for the Floor," off of 1996's As Good as Dead, sounds nothing like what I love about the band. "And didn't Local H sing that song about Eddie Vedder?" Jesus God, yes--Local H did sing that song. Again, "Eddie Vedder" does little to demonstrate why I love Local H so. "High-Fivin' Mother @#%$": That's what I'm talking about. The single that should have been released off of As Good as Dead. Obviously, it could not. But that's the song that made me fall instantly in love with the duo out of Zion, Illinois. Vocalist, guitarist, and bassist Scott Lucas sang and played the @#%$ out of a song about all those suburban fuckers who, back in the early '90s, infiltrated rock clubs because they heard about this crazy thing called the "mosh pit." I got hold of a copy of Local H's first album, Hamfisted, and was astonished that two guys--a guitarist who strung half of his instrument with bass strings, and a pummeling drummer--could release such fury. This was ass-kicking, headbanging grunge, so unrestrained and full of ferocity that it was doubtful the guys could reproduce it on stage.

Thanks to that blasted "copasetic" song, there were only a handful of fans assembled at the Crocodile the night Local H rolled into town years ago, on the heels of As Good as Dead. Lucas and then-drummer Joe Daniels rocked as hard as Mudhoney. Since then, Local H has released two more albums: There was 1998's Pack up the Cats, which included the single "All the Kids Are Right," a slyly brilliant stab at trendy bands that suck live. The rest of the album was just okay, but I went to see the duo at RKCNDY anyway, and it was one of the best live shows I've seen. I'm not supposed to say that, but there, I did.

February 2002 saw Local H release Here Comes the Zoo, which now features former Triplefastaction drummer Brian St. Clair. Again, and as on all but maybe Hamfisted, most of the songs on the album find Lucas making fun of rock in one form or another. "Rock and Roll Professional" is classic, caustic comment that pays tribute to classic rock while tearing those who reinterpret it to pieces. In my opinion, the album is @#%$ great, the band is @#%$ great, and no offense to Clinic, but I'll keep writing about Local H until the duo stops coming to town.