Music is a hard game to break into, and it’s an even harder game to stay in. Ever-changing lineups and management teams make a music career seem impossible, but after more than 30 years in the biz, Local H makes the whole process look easy. Formally formed in Illinois in 1990, after a few years as a high school band, Local H’s sound is indicative of alternative rock through the ages and their new album Lifers, the ninth in their ever-expanding catalog, expands on this legacy.
From their grunge-laded first album Ham Fisted to the alt-rock Twelve Angry Months, this album pulls from all parts of Local H’s musical history. Guitarist and vocalist Scott Lucas explained that the concept for the album originated from the re-release of the White Album and its function as a concept record. He wanted Local H’s next album to be just that. With contributions from Juliana Hatfield and Deer Tick‘s John McCauley, Lifers is a concept record about the end of the world, which seems very apt considering current circumstances.
Blasting into existence is “Turn The Bow.” This track is audible overload, the musical equivalent of 20 head-banging toddlers screaming for your attention. But don’t let that put you off. “Turn the Bow” is a perfect rock track. It has everything you want; driving riffs, gravel-like vocals, and a wailing guitar that I can only assume will sound incredible when played live. It is rock in its purest form and what Local H does best.
If you are looking for some hard rock, it is served up on “Beyond The Valley Of Snakes.” The initial riff is slightly haunting and joins with a basic drum beat and vocal harmonies and growls to create a joyously hard-rock cacophony. It’s catchy and loud, and over seven minutes long. It’s also injected with some serious Royal Blood/Velvet Revolver vibes and has all the hallmarks of a stadium rock anthem.
While the rest of Lifers may be all post-grunge hard rock, Local H slows it right down with “Sunday Best.” We all know that melancholic songs are best played with an acoustic guitar, and Local H doesn’t deviate from the recipe. With the mentions of mortality, life, and moments past, it seems fitting that on the anniversary of Local H’s 30th anniversary, that they take a look back and glance forward to what is yet to come. The modulation takes you by surprise and the vocals are distorted and muffled. Haunting harmonies join in and the track takes on a temporary dark hue and then, the haze clears. A bright piano melody comes to the fore and brings the track back to just Lucas’s voice and a guitar. Local H may be experts in rock, but their deviation for the norm makes “Sunday Best” the best track on the album.
Lifers is an album that combines escapism and hard-rock. Local H has proven that rock is not indeed dead, and with pandemic restrictions, it’s still possible for music to make you feel like you’re head-banging in a large crowd. And I think it’s just the type of escapism we need right now.