Destined to be remembered as the two-man band with the "keep it copasetic" song that earned them their 15 minutes of overplayed alterna-rock radio fame in the í90s, Local H enter the new millennium with a big step down from Island to Palm and a new drummer (Brain St. Clair) pounding out the beats behind singer/guitarist Scott Lucas, whose MO is a kind of self-wallowing pathos delivered with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Scott has also become pretty damn good at crafting convincing head-banging choruses. Often screaming and seemingly strung out, or counting off to prep the mosh pit above St. Clairís muscular backbeats, Lucas makes Here Comes the Zoo a fun, punishing kick in the pants.
The first single, "Half Life," proves heís still got an ear for modern-rock radio hooks, as punchy riffs chug and crunch along to an underdog chorus of "You know they hardly ever give the leper a chance." The piercing guitars on "Son of Cha!" are outfitted with a suitable slacker salvo: "You know me/I got nowhere to be." As always, Lucas canít help bringing to mind Kurt Cobain, and the first few seconds of "(Baby Wants To) Tame Me" come dangerously close to sounding like "Rape Me." But thereís nothing studied or smug about Lucasís occasional forays into Nirvanaland. Besides, itís hard not to give the benefit of the doubt to a guy who can to howl "Itís all about the Benjamins" and "Rockiní for the real estateí/Rockiní for the lawyers" in a song called "Rock & Roll Professionals."
(Local H headline downstairs at the Middle East with the Kickovers on Sunday April 14. Call 617-864-EAST.)