Modern politics might be a dog’s breakfast. But is Local H’s new album?
Slimstyle Records, 2012
7.0 / 10.0
The new album from Chicago-based alternative rock band Local H, possesses the hilariously quote-worthy title of Hallelujah! I’m A Bum. The duo, consisting of Brian St. Clair and Scott Lucas, have been around for a long while. In fact they were formed in 1990, making them just one year older than me, but let’s not focus on that. We’ll maintain the illusion that I’m a wise and world-weary music critic who’s seen it all. HIAB is their seventh full-length record, and as such, it carries with it an incredible amount of artistry and expertise, that Local H have gained from being in the music business for so long. The tunes on this album are super tight — you could cut them with a knife. Lucas’s sharp guitar performances carry plenty of bite, and St. Clair’s drumming is on similar top form. You couldn’t ask for much more from a rock album, right?
Think again. Whether you want it or not, Hallelujah! I’m A Bum carries an intensely political agenda. Local H deliberately delayed the release of this album, so that it would fall in September, as the 2012 US Presidential race heats up. As such, it follows that Lucas’s lyrics are loaded with meaning – for example on “Say The Word”, he sings about the power of individuals to bring about change – “Stand in line / But if you wanna run / Just say the word.” And on “Feed A Fever”, Lucas complains about the media’s political bias – “I heard the news / And I don’t hear no more / I sell your views / From camera four / Take your cues…. You know who / You’re working for.” The album is so explicit in its political agenda that Local H have even gone so far as to include samples of actual press conferences and speeches from politicians, such as on the end of “They Saved Reagan’s Brain”, and throughout “Limit Your Change”.
Thankfully, it’s possible to listen to Hallelujah! I’m A Bum and completely miss all of this hand-waving and posturing. It’s enough to just enjoy the lively, energetic performances, sizeable guitar hooks, and steady rock beats. Local H indulge themselves with a few odd flourishes here and there – for example the country-style tune dedicated entirely to dogs, “Look Who’s Walking On Four Legs Again”, is hard to swallow, despite the album cover’s canine imagery; and “Here Come Ol’ Laptop” is jarring, with its trumpets and heavy-metal screams – but overall, this album should provide a reasonable amount of entertainment for most alternative rock fans. Local H don’t alienate their audience in pursuit of a big political message with HIAB, and that’s a very good thing.
Purchase: Local H – Hallelujah! I’m a Bum
Check out my personal blog: Songs For The Nerdy.