When Chris Blackwell was looking for artists to sign to his new label Palm Pictures he had to look no further than the label he had founded many years before, Island Records. Local H like many on the Island roster got lost somewhere in the shuffle when Island was merged with Universal, all the key players at the label the band had built relationships with had left and Local H founder Scott Lucas knew he had to find a new home or it would be the end of the band.

It was a turbulent time for Local H, it looked like it might be the end of the group that Scott Lucas(vocals, guitar, bass) and Joe Daniels (drums) had worked so hard to make successful. Shortly after the Island merge Joe left the band and Scott had to make a decision whether to carry on with his dream or throw in the towel. Fortunately, he wasn't a quitter. He recruited Triple Fast Action’s Brian St. Clair to take Joe Daniels’ place and it resulted in a new energy within the band. Then Chris Blackwell made the shrewd decision to offer Local H a new home at Palm Pictures. The resulting Palm Pictures debut for Local H titled “Here Comes the Zoo” show that it was the right move for the group and the label.

Local H has never sounded better and “Here Comes the Zoo” easily surpasses their previous work. While in the past the band was sometimes dismissed as a “grunge” also-ran, with “Here Comes the Zoo” they finally put those detractors in their place and offer up one of the best angst ridden yet melodic guitar rock albums to hit the airwaves since the dawn of the new millennium. No hyper bull here, since I received this CD late last year it has very rarely left my CD changer.

Scott Lucas is still at the core of the band as lead vocalist, guitarist, and bassist (his guitar is rigged to play the bass parts along with the guitar). While the group still remains principally a duo between Scott and drummer Brian St. Clair, when it came time to record the album they recruited a host of friends to help out including the Misfits' Jerry Only, The Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, Shanna Kiel from Sullen, Simi’s Simantha Sernaker and St. Clair's former Triple Fast Action bandmate Wes Kidd. Jack Douglas (John Lennon, The Who, Miles Davis, Aerosmith) was brought in to produce the record and his vast background working with groundbreaking artists helped Local H find a new sound that doesn’t quit fit the mold of any of the current music trends. Scott and Brian went in with over 25 songs and selected the best 10 to record for the album. Nick DiDia (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots) took the finished recordings into a mixing studio in Atlanta with the band and mixed and mastered the record. The overall sound lands somewhere between post grunge, indie rock and punk in much the same way that Nirvana was hard to define when they first appeared on the scene the sound cultivated by Local H on “Here Comes the Zoo” is equally hard to pigeon hole. Imagine Radiohead playing punk influenced alt-rock with the late 80’s incarnation of Soul Asylum along with The Smashing Pumkins and The Offspring and you can get the general idea. While Local H may not be the next Nirvana they do offer up music that is a nice contrast to the stale chart toppers in the rock world these days. It’s a fine balancing act and the music is familiar enough to not scare away would be fans but also different enough to help the group avoid being mistaken for someone else.

The ten tracks that make up “Here Comes the Zoo” showcase Scott’s eclectic songwriting ability, while they all fit the general mold of the core Local H sound, they also offer us a different side of the group. They never make the mistake that seems to plague so many other bands, recording songs which sound too similar to each other. The songs don’t fit the traditional hit single simplistic mindset either; sure most of the songs are melodic and have catchy hooks but they don’t pander to the lowest common denominator. Any of the songs on the album are possible hits, not because they were written or recorded with the idea of making a radio hit but because they offer the listener compelling music that hits a nerve. True Local H’s music is a bit different than what we find riding the top of the charts these days and that in itself is the band’s greatest strength and what makes them so appealing. No one who seriously listens to “Here Comes the Zoo” can accuse the band of being trend followers, if anything Local H has the potential to be trendsetters with this new album.

“Here Comes the Zoo” is good news for everybody; For music fans who are looking for a rockin’ new album, for Palm Pictures who are looking for a potential chart topper to kick their label into high gear and for the band who have withstood the test of time and proven to the skeptics that they are the genuine article. Only time will tell if this album will get the attention it deserves but one thing is certain Local H can be proud of what they have accomplished with “Here Comes the Zoo”.