Here Comes the Zoo

by Doug Lewandowski

band's website: http://www.localh.com/

label's site: http://www.palmpictures.com/

It's been almost 4 years since Local H's last release, and in that time the band has experienced some major changes. After being lost in the shuffle of a label merger following 1998's Pack Up the Cats and then seeing the departure of founding drummer Joe Daniels, the H was hanging on by a fingernail. Revitalization came in the form of Brian St. Clair (who previously manned the kit for fellow Chicagoans Triplefastaction), two years' worth of thunderous shows around the Midwest, and a contract with indie label Palm Pictures. After going through all that, it's surprising that the band survived long enough to make Here Comes the Zoo. The bigger surprise is just how good the album is. The other half of Local H, singer/guitarist/bassist Scott Lucas, approached the making of Zoo as if it were one of the classic rock platters he worships. Producer Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Cheap Trick) helped ensure the arena-sized crunch of songs like "Half-Life," which pounds and wails with the perfect mix of AC/DC and Nirvana. Radio listeners who are feelin' those lighters will be lost in an album conspicuously free of ballads but chock full of feedback and Lucas' raw voice.

"Creature Comforted" is especially abrasive, lashing out at consumerist culture and its ability to leave us "defanged and declawed," illustrating that even after more than a decade in the game, Lucas plays and sings like he has something to prove. Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age makes an appearance on "Rock & Roll Professionals," a similar indictment of any band "rockin' for dollars / rockin' for real estate / rockin' for lawyers, baby."

Here Comes the Zoo is less varied than Local H's past efforts, but it burns through 10 tracks of pure rock fury at a hectic pace. Are Local H breaking any new musical ground? No. Does Back in Black beat the shit out of anything on today's rock charts? Of course - and Local H know it.