Release Date: Sep 18, 2012
Record label: Slimstyle
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The best rock album of 2012 – not that it matters – was Local H’s Hallelujah! I’m a Bum, a concept album about politics, money troubles, and Chicago weather. For a band that specializes in concept albums, Local H has kept their music remarkably unpretentious over the past 20 years. They remain two men, singer/guitarist/bassist Scott Lucas and drummer Brian St.
Along with being America's hardest-rocking two-man band, Local H deserve a great deal more credit than they get for keeping the rich tradition of the concept album alive. From 1996's As Good as Dead onward, most of Local H's albums have been centered around a particular theme -- small-town losers, a rock band's failed bid for the big time, a relationship on the skids -- and if they don't usually have a proper narrative, the ebb and flow of the songs equals significantly more than the sum of their parts. Most of Local H's albums have involved the travails of frontman Scott Lucas or an unreliable narrator much like him, but 2012's Hallelujah! I'm a Bum finds him aiming for a bigger, more inclusive story.
Hallelujah! I’m a Bum is a watershed album for Local H. Not only is it the most intricately arranged and carefully structured of the band’s 20-plus-year history, but it is also their first to delve so deeply into the polluted waters of partisan politics. In the past, front man Scott Lucas generally shied away from political themes in favor of more personal subject matter (see: 2008’s gut-wrenching breakup album 12 Angry Months).
These smart-assed Chicagoans peaked early with “Bound for the Floor,” their 1996 post-grunge hit about keeping it copacetic. But if Local H’s commercial fortunes have dwindled, their ideas have only gotten bigger: Hallelujah! I’m a Bum is the guitar-and-drums duo’s second concept album in a row, following 2008’s breakup procedural, Twelve Angry Months. Here frontman Scott Lucas tackles the polarized political scene in crunchy riff-rock jams full of Windy City references; in “Blue Line,” a ride on public transit inspires thoughts on how “it’s getting hard to realize a sense of self in other eyes.” Heaviness (in both senses) abounds.