Music, Not Motorbikes: Max Reviews Local H: Lifers
I know, this is a motorcycle site, and I am also painfully aware of my inability to play an instrument, and I couldn't carry a tune if it came with its own backpack. So what the heck is going on here?
I have not ridden anything - much less anything new - since the apocalypse started, and the motorcycle articles I have in my drafts folder show this. My motivation to write is based directly on my experiences, so not riding motorcycles, not photographing others riding motorcycles, or even not being able to watch the pros race motorcycles has directly impacted my desire to write about, you guessed it, motorcycles. Which brings me to this.
If you are friend's with me on Facebook, you by now know about my feelings for the band Local H. If not, I am a fan, and have been for just shy of 30 years now. I only know the math on this because the band turned 30 a couple of days ago and released a new album in celebration. "Lifers" is the name, and it is everything that I like about the band in one record. Concept albums, face melting rock, at least one over-the-top epic intro, a song over 10 minutes, and a few minutes to contemplate existence in general are all present...As is a false ending. I am not going to go into details about the analog recording sessions with Steve Albini or that John McCauley and Juliana Hatfield absolutely kill it in their support roles. I am also not going to try and decipher lyrics or really write anything of substance. I am barely qualified to write about motorcycles and besides, nobody comes here for breaking news, they come here because they are bored. I am fine with that. On to Lifers. Patrick Bateman is an almost straight-forward rock song that kicks you in the face to make sure you are prepared for the rest of the album. I say almost straight forward as there are some progressions that, if played on more instruments, would have a John Williams quality to them. Not the whole song, obviously, but I did hear some Patrick Bateman in the end credits of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Really not sure if that is an accurate statement or if I have spent too much time on Netflix these days. Anyway...
Hold That Thought is next, and the urge to declare a favorite song off the album hits whenever the chorus kicks in. It makes me flash back to seeing them play it live in Felton right before the nation got grounded. The already-stoked-to-be-there crowd lost their collective shit when it came on, everyone bouncing along as one, a socially acceptable six feet apart. I even remember hearing one guy exclaim that they could go home happy partway through this track. It was me. I said that. Twice. It is that good of a song. It hits me in the place where I used to hide my appreciation of pop music when I was a skater kid growing up. It is radio friendly yet aggressive enough to be shunned by the same stations, not that anyone listens to the radio anymore.
High Wide and Stupid: Local H openly calls Lifers a concept record, and as such each song needs to be looked at as to how it blends with the ones that book-end it. High Wide and Stupid is musically what their album Ham Fisted, would have sounded like if it was recorded in 1977 but with 2020 lyrics. This track has critics dropping their reviews by up to a full point and others praising it as 70's rock perfection. I have a bone to pick with some reviewers, and fully agree with others. High Wide and Stupid (and Beyond the Valley of Snakes) is proof that Scott Lucas has learned a thing or two about songwriting from the classic rock era.
Turn the Bow: If this surf-rock intro does not make you want to fly off the couch and do extreme sports, that's alright as the rest of the track mellows out a little bit. Not enough to sit down, but enough to drop the volume by a couple dB so your cats come out from under the bed just in time for them to enjoy Winter Western.
Winter Western: This song is early Local H in my eyes, but one that was friends with Juliana Hatfield and convinced her to pop on the mic for some background vocals. It has the classic H drive on the guitar, but instead of just having Scott's vocals add grit to the riffs, Juliana is there to smooth things over with her haunting addition.
Beyond the Valley of Snakes is another song I could see John Williams inviting a few of his philharmonic buddies over to cover after the pandemic. It is also very much Local H with driving guitar, thunderous drums, and a false ending/rebirth about three and a half minutes into the 7:11 song. I love a false ending, did I say that already? Also, Mom, if you are reading this, you will want to skip the next video. All the snakes.
Sunday Best: I have always had a soft spot for the gentle side of Local H, and for a rock band there is no shortage of it. No Problem and O.K. are great songs, and I often wonder if Simple Pleas was secretly written by Prince, but Sunday Best is next level. It might be the state of the world today, but it hits me right in the thumbs up button. This is the best song on the album if you don't mind sitting still for a couple minutes.
Demon Dreams: This song is proof that Scott listened to at least one Iron Maiden track in his life. It is a meld of 80's hair metal, prog rock, and grunge. The kind of music that kids would listen to while beating up and stealing the lunch money of a kid in a "Nickleback" shirt.
Farrah: If this was on any other Local H album I would complain that it did not belong. It's not a bad song by any means, it's just not a favorite of mine. Hell, if it was anywhere else on the album I would have some negative things to say. But where it sits on this record it is perfect. It helps Demon Dreams transition from Sunday Best to Defy and Surrender which is the most perfect rock song since Local H's Buffalo Trace. Before the guy in the Zeppelin shirt in the back of the room starts giving me attitude, I'm not saying Buffalo Trace and Defy and Surrender are the best rock songs, just that they are perfect rock songs. Whatever, fight me.
Which brings us to Defy and Surrender. Ten Minutes and eleven seconds of pure fucking rock. The mellow intro that begins the song by cradling your eardrums spins into a full-blown axe-murderer, punching babies and lighting things on fire. (Maybe literally. The park across the street caught fire when I played it today.) Eventually you can do nothing to stop the guitar, vocals, and drums as they decimate everything that gets in the way. Just like that the cat has retreated back under the bed.
Innocents rounds out the record, and let's face it, it is an extension of Demon Dreams. I played the shit out of this song when it was released so much so that I thought for sure I would just skip it when the album came out. Then I saw it at the end of the track list, and I 100% knew I would tap out before it even started. Here's the thing. The last four songs really should be listened to all at once. It is a concept record, after all, and that is part of the deal. In the context of the album Innocents is one of my favorite tracks.
So by now, you want to see Local H live and are angerly shaking your fist in the general direction of Covid19 as you snarl words usually reserved for commuting to work. I feel, ya.
Don't fret, my pet, they will be LIVE on Youtube (and Facebook, and Instagram probably) Friday playing their album Whatever Happened to PJ Soles in its entirety. With any luck they will shred through another hour of covers like they did at their virtual album release party.
The time of the show will vary based on your proximity to Chicago. I get to start rockin' out here on the west coast at 7pm if it helps you math better.