In the mid-'90s, as the grunge scene was coming undone, record labels were frantically searching for the next Nirvana. While the replacements that emerged, such as Bush and Silverchair, were nowhere near the level of the bands that redefined rock in the early part of the decade, they did manage to give us some good music and make a lasting impression. One such band was Local H. They made a brief splash with their hit "Bound for the Floor," which still holds a solid spot in the '90s nostalgia canon. The band has since faded out of the mainstream but maintain a strong fan base. All these years later, however, their 1996 album As Good As Dead holds up well, with or without the nostalgia factor.
Yes, they were clearly riding the post-Nirvana wave that, in '96, was still surging. You can hear it in Scott Lucas' gritty vocals, distorted riffs, and angry lyrics. Hell, in "Nothing Special" he apes the Nirvana chorus of "What's wrong with me?" ... though this song sounds much more like a radio-friendly unit shifter than "Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter" ever wanted to be. And that's the thing about this album. It's got the grit but it also has some polish and plenty of pep. "Lovey Dovey" is a bouncy number that shows the band doesn't take themselves too seriously, as they blast lovebirds who rub their happiness in single people's faces. I love the lyric, "Dave and Heather / See them fighting all the time / I kind of like that." The aforementioned hit "Bound for the Floor" (the "keep it copacetic" song) is certainly repetitive but it's also pretty catchy. Even catchier is the album's second single "Eddie Vedder," which contains the awesome line, "If I was Eddie Vedder, would you like me any better?" Probably, but we do still like you, Local H.
Most tracks maintain that catchy nature while delivering even burlier sounds. "High-Fiving MF" gets the album off to a roaring start with a vulgar yet humorous send-up of rednecks at Local H concerts. The album ends with even more of a roar thanks to the massive "Manifest Destiny Part 2." This track repeats just one line but does so in such a forceful fashion that you'd think they were warning the masses of the impending apocalypse. Other tracks tap into the band's punk side. "Back In the Day" is pure grunge-punk, ripping along at breakneck pace while "Fritz's Corner," takes it a little easier, creating a track that's both cathartic and completely memorable. A couple detours from the usual hard-edged sound - the slower "Ok" and "No Problem" and the dark, more experimental "Freeze-Dried (F)lies" - show the band has a few other welcome tricks up their sleeves.
Oh, and did I mention this is a two-man band? Lucas handles vocals, guitars, and bass while Joe Daniels smashes up the drum kit. While they're no White Stripes, this duo proved pretty dynamic with their breakthrough album. As Good As Dead may not belong among the hard rock behemoths of the early '90s, but it does a fine job of capturing what we loved about that sound and adding a bit more accessibility.