Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Local H

  • Ham Fisted [Island, 1995] ***
  • As Good as Dead [Island, 1996] A-
  • Pack Up the Cats [Island, 1998] A-
  • Here Comes the Zoo [Palm, 2002] **
  • The No Fun EP [Thick EP, 2003] ***
  • Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? [Studio E, 2004] ***
  • Twelve Angry Months [Shout! Factory, 2008] Dud

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Ham Fisted [Island, 1995]
brighter than Bleach, less fly than Incesticide ("Chicago Fanphair '93," "Grrrlfriend") ***

As Good as Dead [Island, 1996]
Quintessential exponents of what the cynics at Spin call scrunge, these two young guys from Illinois are a study in the uses and limits of originality. After their debut proved only that singer-guitarist-bassist-headman Scott Lucas and drummer-dynamo Joe Daniels were to the bash-roil-howl born, they figured out enough about riffs and hooks to transform sound into song, and now evoke a tragic Seattle trio who shall remain nameless. I wish Pearl Jam, whose leader stars in the title song, packed such isometric power--that sense of tremendous force bravely exerted against implacable reality--and I say the exercise makes all of us stronger. Even if it develops further, which is about as unlikely as it having gotten this far, it will never replace the original. But these days we need any reassurance the music machine can cough up. A-

Pack Up the Cats [Island, 1998]
At first I was just glad to ascertain they weren't a fluke. Now I think they've gone and made themselves the straight rock album of the year. Their idea of roots Husker Du, their idea of avant-garde also Husker Du, they attack the 100-bpm four-four with a singleness of purpose unknown to rap-fearing new metalists, ska-loving old hardcorists, and indie adventurers adrift on the great unknown. They're not true believers, writing early and often about just how far straight rock can't take you. They address an audience they swear is still there. And they have something to prove, even if it's only that a duo from the same Illinois town that produced the Shoes can make more noise than a pumpkins-smashing factory. A-

Here Comes the Zoo [Palm, 2002]
Jack Douglas replaces Roy Thomas Baker at the helm, and if you know the difference it sounds that way ("Rock & Roll Professionals," "Keep Your Girlfriend"); **

The No Fun EP [Thick EP, 2003]
something to be pissed about ("President Forever," "Birth, School, Work, Death") ***

Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? [Studio E, 2004]
Formerly high on triumph, now determined to prevail ("Everyone Alive," "California Songs") ***

Twelve Angry Months [Shout! Factory, 2008] Dud

See Also