A one-hit wonder for many individuals who only listen to popular music, Local H has been releasing albums constantly since their largest commercial success, “As Good As Dead”, hit stores in April of 1996. Much has changed for the band since “Bound For the Floor”, though, and “Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles” is an album that shows a band in transition, moving from a Offspring-but-more-rock sound in “California Songs” to a 70s-Southern rock trip in the rock epic “Buffalo Trace”. However, in this transition Local H has really lost their way, and can’t see the forest for the trees, making an album that is uneven at best. Tracks like “Dick Jones” lie comatose from the first few seconds of the track, with strung-out guitars meshing alongside distorted vocals to create an absolute mess. In fact, the distorted guitars and crunchy guitars are a problem with a majority of the disc, as well as utterly uninspired musicianship.
In terms of radio playability, the best track on the disc is “Buffalo Trace”, and incredibly few radio stations will be up for putting a 10 minute opus into common rotation. Starting out with a drum beat not unlike that of AC/DC’s “TNT”, “How’s the Weather Down There” is a much more driving track, with Scott taking more of a Dexter Holland pitch to eir’s voice, as well as having the band drop most the collective distortion that muddies up the track. As such, the track is more guttural, an anomaly on a disc that is literally suffocating from all the aural gewgahs that the band and producer Andy Gerber thought it necessary to include. The aforementioned peak of the disc, “Buffalo Trace”, uses a guitar lick influenced by Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix, moving into more of the Spartan arrangements that Local H can pull off to a much greater degree than the artificial wall of sound that is omnipresent on “Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles”.
The rest of the disc is really without any solid hits, all trying to recreate the same vibe of “Buffalo Trace”, although with slightly different spins at each go. While “Hey Rita” has Scott moving into a Kurt Cobain tone, and “Mellowed” coping almost to a fault “Wicked Little Town”’s chorus from the Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s soundtrack, it becomes painfully obvious that Local H may have great ideas for where they are going, but just aren’t up to making solid music in this transitory state.
Top Tracks : Buffalo Trace, California Songs
Local H – Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? / 2004 Studio E Records / 14 Tracks / http://www.localh.com / http://www.studioerecords.com / Released 06 April 2004 / Reviewed 26 February 2004