In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “As Good as Dead makes a pretty good case that these dudes could write 90s rock as good as anyone.”
Your Whites Stripes, your Blacks Keys, your Japans-droids. Ever since Jack and Meg White broke through, the two piece rock outfit has been pretty common. But back in the early 90s, the idea seemed insane. If you were gonna rock, you needed a thundering bass, and two guitars. But back then, one band did it. And they did it so well, it was never seen as a gimmick. It was years before I even knew that Local H was a two piece. Thinking back, it’s incredible that Local H managed to create a sound just as big as their contemporaries. Which is why I thought it was worth taking a look back at their 1996 release, As Good as Dead.
High Fiving Motherfucker calls out all the hair metal, stone washed jeans fans of the 80s, letting them know that the time of the meathead is over. The sensitive, tortured 90s grunge rockers were here to take over. Sure, seminal records like Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten were already half a decade old, but the mainstream was still talking about grunge like it was the new big thing in rock.
If you’ve only ever heard one Local H song, chances are its Bound for the Floor. It has that 90s quiet-loud-quiet dynamic down to a science, and lyrics like “You just don’t get it” are made for angry teenagers to yell along to, whether they listen to the rest of the song or not. Next up, Scott Lucas does his best Kurt Cobain impression vocally on Lovey Dovey, as he rants about the misery he finds in the love of others. But there’s enough of a self aware wink to know we shouldn’t take the lyrics too seriously.
I Saw What You Did and I Know Who You Are takes an already aggressive album and gives As Good as Dead even more angst and belly fire. The riffage crunches more, the vocals strain to limits untested before now, and the record comes even more alive than before because of it. Which makes it the perfect juxtaposed track to come right before the acoustic melancholy of Amazing Pictures.
Travelling across the pond for influences, Eddie Vedder might be written about one of the kings of Seattle of the time, but it sounds a lot more like an English shoegazing band from the same era. It’s deliberate and trudguing as the flat vocal melody sounds like it was dragged, kicking and screaming out of Lucas’ mouth.
The standard issue penultimate song O.K is about the same as all the standard issue penultimate songs from these kinds of bands around this time. It’s nothing terrible, just a little indulgent and a little unnecessary. There’s a very fine line between contemplative and aimless.
Obviously the number of members in a band becomes pretty insignificant once in the studio. Any decent multi instrumentalist can layer track on top of track on top of track until their heart is content. It’s live where these two piece bands prove their metal. I’ve seen The Japandroids live and they were amazing, capturing their recorded sound, and even improving on it. I’ve seen videos of The White Stripes and Black keys live, and the latter definitely handles it better than the empty sound of the former.
A little Youtube research shows me that Local H are more in the Japandroids camp. As Good as Dead makes a pretty good case that these dudes could write 90s rock as good as anyone. Clips of them live prove that they walked the walk as well.