Posts Tagged ‘90s Chicago

07
Apr
21

I’m Ready…

Opportunity may strike at your lowest point. It seems to hunt you down when you’re least expecting it. You’re down and out at work; but oh, shit, an exciting project now has your name on it. The day was already long enough, and you’re scheduled to attend this meeting; but oh, shit, it was just canceled – a gift of time. 60 minutes ago you were psyched to step into a workout, now you’re far from your house and out of gas; but damn, look what just rolled on.

There are different states during a ride for me no matter the duration and intensity: warm-up, huff and puff, feelin’ good, beginning to lag, and the adrenaline rush of near completion. Though I know a well-timed and appropriately themed playlist would generate more ummph and tenacity, creating a synchronized set of songs isn’t my thing. Instead, it’s a few E.P.s and albums placed in my queue upon sitting on my saddle. My spontaneous choices have been working.

The energy, the nostalgia, the impeccable songwriting, and the combustible instrumentation of Triple Fast Action’s Cattlemen Don’t is what I continue to return to. A great majority of this record is fully charged and ends up exploding sonically. Albums deserve to be experienced with headphones, the brilliance shines brighter, all the expressive nuances of each song ring truer when you’re immersed within that song’s world. Headphones almost force you to be present and one with the song.

While in the huff and puff phase of my ride, after a gradual, loose climb, my energy was waning. I was capable of staying in motion but the pace was the speed where being passed was likely. On a beautiful day, in a heavily populated open space, there is always someone creeping up. I own my age and how my muscle fibers aren’t what they once were. But like electrical paddles hoping to resurrect a normal heart rhythm, an under three-minute song possesses a similar capability: let’s rip! The surge that courses through my body upon hearing “I’m Ready” gave me an instant restart. I was ready for whatever was left ahead. This jolt of opportunity hit right when I needed it.

26
Mar
21

Lifers Retour 2021

The rumor is we all have a purpose. Not everyone’s is created equal, where some might have a great undertaking, others appear small. But by no means less vital. Leaders seem to be more revered than others. And rightfully so: their responsibilities are great and potentially life-altering for many. This role comes in all forms and looks different depending on the field one leads in. During a global pandemic, one where initially no one knew what to do and what the rules of engagement were, many sat static. But some opted to quickly step up and continue what they do best: ROCK.

A decimation to the live music industry happened. For some, finding an alternative profession was never an option. As desirable and stable as some jobs are, there is a special feeling stepping in front of an audience, plugging in, and having music course through your audience’s body. For Local H, this is their purpose. Amps, drums, and uniquely modified guitars are their tools of choice.

We knew that one of the first artists to announce a national tour would be Local H. Last year’s album debuted a few weeks into the beginning of the pandemic. They took it in stride, knew their fans would be ready when the green light was given for venues to open their doors again. This Fall will mark the point where there is light at the end of this long, infectious tunnel that has been COVID-19 as Chicago’s Local H announce their Lifers Retour. Never one to half-ass anything rock related, the duo has secured 27 dates.

12
Mar
21

It’s March Plaidness!

64 teams, but only one can be the ultimate victor in a tournament’s bracket. March basketball hosts a major collegiate battle. Equally important, and way less fleeting than a two hour and 15 minute game, where most cease to ever think about again, is March Plaidness. A 64 song bracket of the Grunge Era. A period where many want to forget. But others, are still happily immersed in its sound: cacophonous guitars, quiet/loud/quiet/explosive patterns, sullen lyrical themes, and angst a plenty. Each artist of this period created their own unique story by their recorded output and off stage actions and shenanigans.

Where in basketball the teams are seeded based on talent, winning record, and historical value, this bracket is ranked based on popularity. Of course Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains are ranked higher than Sunny Day Real Estate, Hum, and Local H. But music is subjective, what you consider brilliant and timeless, I haven’t hit play on since this plaid soaked period. Time can be a bitch on acts of this period, only so much truly holds up. Upsets are inevitable.

This bracket includes play-by-play analysis in the form of an essay for each competitor. Here is where this competition is worth participating in: reading someone else’s interpretation of an artist that’s been essential to your listening canon. Or engaging in a great riff on a single from that period you still can’t hear enough of.

I stumbled upon this greatness care of Local H, where their ’96 “Bound For the Floor” single went face-to-face against Pearl Jam’s “Corduroy” off 94’s Vitalogy. Artists I love, singles I used to adore, and still spin to this day laced up for this battle; Veruca Salt, PJ Harvey, Breeders, Placebo, etc. Advance or go home, who gives a shit. This is the Internet doing good: bringing my favorite musical decade back into the spotlight.

21
Feb
21

Another February, Another Podcast…

While Chicago is living through a February, they also continue to be immersed within a global pandemic. The latter has decimated live music. With more home time than we care for, many urban folks snow stuck, this might be the opportune period to create a podcast. Many would ask, Another podcast? This format is oversaturated many would state. But if you already have the fan base, and you have something to share, this couldn’t be a more optimal time.

Scott Lucas, front man of innovative rockers Local H, is taking a chance on this format with the Lifers podcast. The man is a self-described Lifer. A Lifer is a person who has skin in the game, has determined that this is the life for them. It doesn’t matter if they’re making it, or can barely piece together enough to keep themselves afloat, this is the path they have chosen to indefinitely follow. This podcast is a deep dive into the why and how of people that continue to persevere in their chosen art; music, film, production, all artistic forms are potential topics. This is a Local H podcast but so much more: never heard stories, unique banter, and an opportunity to hear how these inspiring artists continue to thrive when others fail.

At one point I dismissed podcasts as another thing vying for my attention. Where was I going to find the time to experience a two hour episode? But shit, this medium has endless potential. It’s educational entertainment.

When I want to learn more on a topic I will utilize a podcast. After completing a book, I will search for the author on a podcast. This provides the opportunity to sit with the writer, hear their stories, the why into their project and further understand the material. Today I asked myself why am I not doing the same for artists after they unleash a new record? If Episode 2 of Lifers is any indication, this might be where I look first.

28
Dec
20

Cattlemen Don’t Is A Best Of…

A vinyl release of a coveted record is a blessing. There was a time where labels only pushed CDs upon us. At the time, it’s what we demanded. A small, round disc was portable, it could be kept on your shelf amongst hundreds of others; perhaps nice and snug in your car’s center console or stuck in your Discman. Everything has been flipped on its head today. Where once convenience was king, I strategically opt for a slower, more immersive experience. The perfect accompaniment that satisfies my late 90s self and my more mature, wiser ears has arrived: Cattlemen Don’t on wax from the surging Chicago quartet Triple Fast Action.

Like many acts of this era, their CD became a relic in my collection; they created two timeless albums and disbanded. It wasn’t atypical during their era and post TFA to run into fans claiming them as one of the best acts to come out of Chicago. “One of the best bands ever”, a drunken Chicago front man confided in me after his set at Gunther Murphy’s. This release sees Local H’s Scott Lucas penning the liner notes and corroborating my long held belief: the sheer strength this album holds from front to back.

Triple Fast Action possessed the ability to erupt sonically. They had fully charged guitars ready to rip; their sound was typical of a raging roller coaster that slowly ascended, catapulted you down the descent, and jostled your entire body and blasted your auditory system through the flat transitions. This record debuted a tighter, more confident act, one not scared to call out label suits, share a softer side, and crank all dials to 11. Loaded with hooks, masterful songwriting, intense guitar play, emotional ballads, and a regal assemblage of horns, this was an album that was the alternative to the alternative many think of from this period. Where many records from this period consisted of the same song 10 times over, Cattlemen Don’t consists of 13 unique offerings; each song was meticulously chiseled using a mold from the Broadcaster era, but this time, the band dug deep, stayed focused, and crafted a dizzying array of inventive guitar-based power pop to create an album sounding as fresh and formidable today as it was two plus decades ago.

It’s the end of the year, everyone has assembled their Best of Lists. I question how many of these records will be spun 23 years from now. Dropping the needle on a freshly pressed Cattlemen Don’t is cheer, it’s nostalgia, it’s loud, it’s without a doubt one of the strongest records in my collection, and it’s an excellent reminder of why we should all love Triple Fast Action.

And the loudest, biggest props to Forge Again Records for getting these much-anticipated records out to fans before Christmas. When I heard Justin from Forge Again was personally delivering records to Chicago residents, I realized how wise the band was to work with a label of this great integrity. Much respect!

04
Nov
20

Triple Fast Action’s Cattlemen Don’t 23 Years Later…

It needn’t be an even anniversary year to place your strongest release onto vinyl for the first time. 23 years post the release of your sophomore record might be the ideal time.

The formerly Chicago-based quartet Triple Fast Action have announced a vinyl release of Cattlemen Don’t. This 1997 record is highly regarded by a few reputable sources for its hooks, roller coaster ride sonics, excitable vocals, and craftsmanship-like songwriting. Chicagoist considered it “one of the best rock records you’ve probably never heard”. It’s not on Spotify, was only released on CD thanks to NYC’s Deep Elm Records and sadly was released less than a year before the band disbanded. This release sounds loaded and ready to rip:

TFA’s drummer Brian St. Clair on this long-awaited release:

Cattlemen Don’t got a really great push when it was originally released in 1997 via Deep Elm Records. Had we stayed together we probably would have moved onto things like a vinyl issue and another record. While we missed the 20-year anniversary of the album, our desire to get it out on vinyl only increased with each passing year. Finally, after rediscovering all of the lost tapes, we set out to make this a reality. Justin from Forge Again Records connected with me about his interest in the band and wanted to do the vinyl release.

And here we are today with a double album collection which covers not only the 1997 release, but also the three outtakes from those sessions. The diehard fans will also be psyched to know that it also includes six unreleased songs, two from a November 1994 session and four more from a sixteen-track recording session we did at our practice space around the same time we recorded Cattlemen Don’t. We hope all the fans out there enjoy the heart and soul we put into this music.”

Local H’s Scott Lucas is guesting on this record. He’s contributing to the liner notes of the double record gatefold. Lucas’ meticulous creative process for his latest record Lifers is proof he respects the physical release. A lot has transpired in close to two decades and a half, but one constant remains: 90s guitar-based Chicago rock.

Forge Again Records

“I’m Ready” from TFA’s Cattlemen Don’t was featured on last month’s Deep Elm Records: 25 Years Vol. 1

10
Oct
20

Veruca Salt and Local H Visit Guitar World…

When you’re charting, you’re a darling. But if your single doesn’t have wings, you’re a liability and not worth keeping around. Guitar World sat down with Chicago’s Veruca Salt and Local H for a brief history of their major label hits and misses in the 90s. Chicago had a tight-knit scene where the weapon of choice was loud guitars. After Nirvana was signed and exploded, labels craved the next Seattle. Almost overnight, the label reps gravitated to the next gold rush city: Chicago.

Many of my favorites were excavated from the gritty, hole in the wall bars and venues of the city as a potential next big thing. Veruca Salt and Local H both shared enough commercial success to earn gold records. But as they’ve grown wiser, they let Guitar World know they’re glad those moments are behind them. Scott always had a true adoration for the craft and was inevitably going to persevere:

“Quitting never occurred to me. I appreciated being on a major label, but very quickly I said, ‘Time to move on.’ I knew it would be a lot of work, and that we would be doing a lot more of the work, but fuck it, you know? For a brief time we went to Palm Pictures, which was kind of like Island Jr., and we could record with Jack Douglas. 

“After that, you realize your overhead is getting lower and lower, and you’ve got to make adjustments. You tighten the belt – smaller crew, a van instead of a bus… And then not have any crew at all. But you can do it. It’s not impossible.“

While being dropped, shuffled around, and not properly respected, Lucas learned to cut his DIY teeth. Without those experiences and his bootstrapping mentality, H wouldn’t have been able to thrive during this pandemic with their innovative practices. Move after move has proved how creative and committed Local H are as a band who is in it for life.

This scene was cherished because it was happening not far from where I came up. Bands the local radio station played were accessible. It wasn’t impossible to see them live, rub shoulders with them at the merch table, and catch them multiple times in a month. These local acts were friends, bowled together, dated one another, and gratefully, shared the same bills. Seeing bands from the past in today’s print reaffirms how strong of a scene the city of Chicago had.

Hits, misses and major labels: Veruca Salt’s Louise Post and Local H’s Scott Lucas on surviving the ’90s alt-rock boom.

22
Sep
20

Local H Visits Psychedelic Magazine…

You got a brand new, potentially strongest record of your career. You can’t nationally tour to get the word out. But that won’t deter you from moving forward and continuing to do what you do best: “bashing the shit out of your instrument and screaming your head off”, shares Scott Lucas of Chicago’s Local H as he fields insightful questions from Psychedelic Magazine.

From Led Zepplin’s continued impact on their sound, that smart and deliberate tracklisting, Scott the regurgitator, and H’s purpose for insanely cathartic dynamics. A concise back and forth that further corroborates why this duo is going stronger than ever three decades later.

20
Aug
20

Local H’s No Fun E.P. (Draft Resurrection)

A post began in 2014. This EP was sent to me in July of this year after I realized it was missing from my digital collection. The duo never gave up any of their intensity when this pandemic struck. I’d argue they cranked the dial further than they had had it. Chicago’s strongest, most innovative rock duo continues to give me reason to spin their entire discography.

Streaming is overwhelming. Any stream has come from within my tiny mind, there isn’t a shelf showcasing an arsenal of records making suggestions. I have amassed a large collection of albums and don’t have the brainpower to call all of it to my frontal lobe when it’s selection time. Some records will be forgotten.

Local H’s No Fun, a 6 song E.P. from 2003, was lost in the chasm of albums, E.P.s, and singles only available via physical media. This extended play consists of three originals and three reinterpretations. All are loud, full of cathartic and hearty vocals care of Scott Lucas, and brandish an impenetrable arsenal of sound. Scott and Brian flex their newfound prowess as the new iteration of Local H.

On “No Fun” Scott pleads how the charade is up, the band is bullshit and reeks of insincerity and incompetence through powerful instruments of mass destruction; H places themselves as the head of state in “President Forever” as they proclaim their ability to do whatever the hell they want. A song debuted during GWB’s term, though with lyrics like, “I’m President forever/accountable to no one no more”, it screams at our anti-leader. “Fuck Yeah, That Wide” found inspiration within Primal Scream’s “Kill All Hippies” by borrowing and slightly modifying the line, “You got the money, I got the soul!” to create a psychedelic freak-out. “FYTW” at the time was H’s longest song with a running time of nine minutes and 47 seconds.

Scott shares his influences and current listening habits with his live audience. Most live gigs include a cover song. H tackles The Godfathers’ 1988 tell it how it is “Birth, School, Work, Death” through riff-heavy distortion and emphatic proclamations. And the pandemic timely “I Just Want Something To Do” originally penned by The Ramones has Scott and Brian passionately plugged into their thunderous sound begging for some human contact.

St. Clair debuted as the new timekeeper of Local H on their 2002 LP Here Comes the Zoo. This follow-up demonstrates how cohesive of an act they became through a small body of work. With newfound synergy, Scott and Brian masterly tear any skeptic into shreds in 28 minutes.

Local H :: No Fun

Local H :: Cooler Heads

Local H continues moving forward in 2020:

Scott Lucas LIVE from the Empty Bottle’s rooftop during the pandemic

More Upcoming Drive-in Shows

Local H asking you to take action

04
Aug
20

Local H’s 8:46

Local H continue to smash through barriers. The Chicago-based duo do not idle, they shift the shit of their transmission and get it outta neutral the second they can make themselves useful. Using their instrumental weaponry, a propulsive tribute has been penned, “8:46”, an artistic piece to draw attention to police brutality.

This duration is associated with George Floyd and the police officer who knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Chicago’s most important rock purveyors possess a loyal following, something I do not equally have but that doesn’t excuse in-action.

We all have the ability to be artists. Yes, an artist, one with the ability to change how someone other than us feels. We can improve the status quo, work to humanize the daily experience for all.

We can go out of our way to be different and challenge the norm. Perhaps zig instead of zag, choose to speak up when you’re in a situation of injustice and cruelty towards another. These heightened times have brought light to how chaotic today is. I’m attempting to be better. It’s a daily journey, one that does not have a finish line.

When we sit back and passively accept what is transpiring around us, it’s not others who are the problem, we are equal contributors. Run the Jewel’s Killer Mike eloquently raps on “Walking in the Snow”,

And everyday on evening news they feed you fear for free
And you so numb you watch the cops choke out a man like me
And ’til my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, “I can’t breathe”
And you sit there in the house on couch and watch it on TV
The most you give’s a Twitter rant and call it a tragedy
But truly the travesty, you’ve been robbed of your empathy
Replaced it with apathy…

Creating and sharing a racially-inspired tribute post isn’t making change. It’s the equivalent of a Twitter rant. This pushes me to explore how I can impact change. Maybe you’re equally motivated by this ferocious, awe-inspiring barrage of sound Local H smashes us over the head with. Its intensity forces us to wake up and take a deep, comprehensive self-examination.

This isn’t an obligatory response to protecting the band’s image and insincerely saying they care, too. Local H have survived in this fickle industry by being artists, creators that change how we feel and how we interact with our surroundings. Their “8:46” is now an essential piece of the inspirational playlist canon.




Upcoming Shows:

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May 2021
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