Chicago duo Local H
have never been ones to shy away from concept albums. Each album since the band's inception unites around a single idea (2008's 12 Angry Months
: Break-ups, 1999's Pack up the Cats
: Selling out/moving to a bigger city). The band's 1996 breakthrough album As Good as Dead
centered on the idea of being stuck in a small town (namely, the band's hometown Zion, Illinois). These days the two man outfit (Scott Lucas, Vocals and Guitar; Brian St. Clair, drums) bleed Chicago and the Windy City can be heard all throughout their seventh release Hallelujah, I'm a Bum
From the sounds of the blue line train rumbling over tracks in album opener Waves to the "Doors Closing" recording that surfaces at the begining of the track "Blue Line," Chicago begins to feel like the unofficial third member of Local H. While officially, Lucas has branded this a political album (with lyrics to match), Hallelujah, I'm a Bum
seems to reflect more of the characteristics of a Chicago winter: harsh, depressing and a bit bleak.
Lucas' time with side project Scott Lucas and The Married Men has definitely colored his songwriting and song crafting. Hallelujah, I'm a Bum
straddles the line between classic H and a poppier hybrid of the two projects. There's a hint of a softer side bubbling underneath the band's hardened exterior on tracks "Say the Word," Sad History," and album closer "Waves Again." Lest ye think the band doesn't have "it" anymore, Lucas and St. Clair threw in such fierce rockers as "Another February," "Here Come Ol' Laptop" and "Trash Fire Bummers." The trio blow apart the 17-stong collection with plenty of rage and defiance coupled with loud, rumbling guitars and explosive drums.
The production on Hallelujah, I'm a Bum
is some of the best to appear on a Local H album since its major label days. There's a cohesiveness that unites and blends each track into the next, almost like an hour long jam session. Local H once again sounds bigger than just the duo behind the instruments. Metal guru Sanford Parker turns up the grit while simultaneously polishing Lucas' howling vocals.
I spoke with Local H frontman Scott Lucas about how he chooses which songs end up on Married Men albums and which end up on Local H albums, he said it all makes sense to him. After repeated spins, I can't say I see the method to Lucas' madness, but I am enjoying the ride.
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, 1375 W. Lake St.