90s score: 8/10
2016 score: 8.5/10
It’s always interesting to see who goes down in history as a one-hit wonder. I’ve seen Local H listed as a one hitter in three different lists by major media outlets. But here’s the kicker: each listed them with a different song. One had alternative radio staple “Bound for the Floor,” while another put them down for the lamentation “Eddie Vedder,” while the third claimed self-deprecating “All the Kids are Right” as their “one hit.” Like the Flat Earth Society claiming they have members around the globe, something doesn’t add up here.
The band had made a bit of noise with their debut Ham Fisted, mainly from people confusing their single “Cynic” with a Nirvana song. It was with their sophomore release As Good As Dead in 1996 that they hit their stride. They were realigned and were now a duo. This is a time before Jack and Meg were followed by Dan and Patrick and the plethora of rock duos to follow. This was grunge, the time of the five piece. Two guys making all that noise? It was unheard of at the time. Local H’s Matt Lucas and Joe Daniels were pioneers. And Joe was black, which was another oddity in the grunge world.
After a short intro, the album kicks off with “High Fivin’ MF,” a straight off kick in the teeth. The Nirvana comparisons are still there and inevitable. The vocals and guitars are cleaner and sped up, but the vibe is there. It’s playful and self deprecating while still being catchy and riffy.
“Bound for the Floor” is one of those songs that just gets stuck in your head for days. You hear it once and you can’t shake it. Years of DJing in rock bars has also taught me that it’s a song everyone knows and nobody has any clue who it’s by or what it’s called. Throwing it on guarantees one person will come up to you and ask you what it is.
Next comes “Lovey Dovey,” an anthem for the angsty teens of the time. It mainly loops the lyrics, “Don’t you hate it, when people are in love, they’re so fucking happy, happy, I want to cut you down.” Then “I Saw What You Did and Know Who You Are” hits like a tonne of bricks. It’s the album’s version of “Territorial Pissings.” It’s as heavy, angry, and sloppy as a punk song is allowed to be before it stops being punk, which is a comment you can pretty much copy and paste for the song “Nothing Special.”
I’ve often wondered if the Kurt Cobain comparisons are what prompted Lucas to write “Eddie Vedder” with the lyrics, “Would you like me any better if I was EddieVedder?” It’s a tongue in cheek, catchy tune that got them heavy rotation.
The fourth single to get rotation on this album (which is not bad for a so-called one hit wonder) was “Fritz’s Corner,” the most aggressive of the radio tunes. Its catchy chorus is overlaid over a tonne of noise, as heavy as anything that made it onto alternative radio. ¸
If you were born in the nineties and lament that there weren’t enough Nirvana albums, it is a worthy endeavor to check out the first three albums these guys put out, Ham Fisted, As Good As Dead, and Pack Up the Cats. I hate to reduce a band to a comparison with one band, but fuck it: saying you’re a worthy substitute to Nirvana is one hell of a compliment. I raised their score because at the time they were one of many bands that sounded like Nirvana, but two decades later, they’re the only one that you can say succeeded and their music stands tall on its own.
Written by Richard Brunette
*edited by Kate Erickson