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Grunge survivors Local H play Mr. Small's with Electric Six

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Experience counts differently for a doctor than for a band. While no one's suggesting rock music is comparable to brain surgery, isn't it strange that all the attention is heaped on the new kids in town, at the expense of the tried and true? While some acts' inspiration may flag over the course of their careers, others continue churning out quality albums even as the spotlight dims.

Certainly there's no cause to stick a Pitchfork in Local H, though its 15 minutes expired a decade ago. The hard-rocking Chicago duo is currently supporting its sixth studio release, 12 Angry Months, a break-up album chronicling the year-long aftermath of a relationship. Singer and guitarist Scott Lucas channels the doubt, rage, jealousy, self-loathing and feelings of victimization that come with a fiery crash, tracing a trajectory of self-discovery. The theme culminates with "December: Hand to Mouth," in which, by hitting bottom, a character finds his way out from underneath.

Local H began in the late '80s, while Lucas was still in high school, but the band's star was forged in the heat of grunge, buoyed by a passing vocal similarity to Cobain and the band's chunky, muscular roar. Its second album, As Good as Dead (1996), about life in a dead-end small town, produced the minor hits "Bound for the Floor" and "Eddie Vedder." The more hook-centric '98 follow-up, Pack Up the Cats, went gold and seemed destined for bigger things. But when the band's label got swallowed by Universal, the disc lost momentum in the shuffle.

The albums that followed -- 2002's Here Comes the Zoo, and 2004's biting, fame-flaming Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? -- failed to corral the same audience, though Lucas' sardonic wit remained in fine shape (see the slinky takedown of our sunny coastal fascinations, "California Songs," off the latter). Local H forged on without a label, writing and recording 12 Angry Months over several years, when the band could afford studio time.

These days, Lucas doesn't even use distortion, relying more on volume, which is still cranked but more balanced on the new album alongside quieter, acoustic moments. (He's even considering doing a stripped-down, partly acoustic solo album.) The duo's energetic live performances remain a calling card and key factor in its sturdy grassroots following all these years. The band is also known for its canny covers, which run the gamut from "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Purple Rain" to Britney Spears' "Toxic." Local H is a flavor that outlasts the weak.

 

Local H with Electric Six and the Golden Dogs. 8 p.m. Wed., Nov. 26. Mr. Small's Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $12. All ages. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com

Two angry dudes?: Local H
  • Two angry dudes?: Local H

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