I have been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately since the summer is winding down, but I have been thinking about those awkward teen years when you or your friends weren’t old enough to drive, so you had to rely on shopping with your parents to go to any of the cool stores. There was no cooler store on the planet than Newbury Comics.
My parents were always doing some project around the house, so we were frequently at the Home Depot*. I could either stay at home or ride along with them to the shopping center 15 miles away. With my DiscMan loaded with batteries I would take my seat in the family van. Once the Dodge Caravan parked, I would make a beeline across the parking lot to spend whatever money I had scrounged up at Newbury Comics.
Every time I wound up there, I would wander aimlessly and flip through CD cases trying to figure out what to get. More often than not, I would get something if the album art looked badass. Tool’s Ænima, with the animated “smoke box” cover? Immediate buy! Deftones’ Around The Fur, with the picture of a woman in a bikini shot with a fish eye lens? Sold! But some albums were a much harder sell.
Like Local H’s As Good As Dead.
Let’s be honest, it’s kinda weird, right? I would always pause and think hard about buying As Good As Dead. The song “Bound For The Floor” was pretty popular at the time and it seemed natural to get the album but I never pulled the trigger. I would have this internal debate for many months before I finally bought the album.
While the opening track is essentially an intro, the album charges with “High-Fiving MF“, a bruiser of a song that still slays to this day. After that, is the aforementioned “Bound For The Floor”, a song in particular that my band in the 2000’s covered at every show we played (but that’s a topic for another post…).
And after that, I didn’t really bother to listen to much else.
Just a couple months ago, I had my iPod plugged into the radio at work. My co-worker was scrolling through looking to play something. I thought nothing of it and when I returned to the work floor some time later I found myself noticing the music had changed drastically. I was really enjoying it, so before I asked anyone what we were listening to, I walked over to the radio. To my horror, my iPod was still plugged in and playing what we were all listening to.
“Nothing Special“, by Local H.
After a disappointing sigh to myself, I made a point to listen to the album that afternoon. Maybe with adult ears and not being so focused on the album cover or the one hit song my band played all throughout Central Massachusetts – including a gentlemen’s club and the legendary sketch ball Good Time Emporium in Somerville (again, a post for another time). But like really, for-really listen.
Beyond the first few songs, As Good As Dead opens itself to a perfect snapshot of modern rock in the 90’s. Many of the songs are introspective, yet sarcastically delivered. “Lovey Dovey” and “No Problem” sound like the grunge-era ballads similar to Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots. “Eddie Vedder” is a great rock tune with bold pop elements that remind me of those hazy summer days wasting away with friends.
What makes Local H really shine is their ability to flat out rock. The heaviness in some of these songs were never brought to my attention. I mean, yes, I bought the album and didn’t listen to it, but somebody should have told me. I will always find a way to blame someone else. “I Saw What You Did And I Know Who You Are” has a relentless, yet heavy groove and “Back In The Day” reminded me of Faith No More in its assaulting delivery, and I mean that as a compliment.
It took me a long time to buy As Good As Dead based off of the cover and an even longer time digesting it because of my limited knowledge of the band, and I paid for that. This album is simply fantastic and I should have appreciated it more than I did.
But, ultimately, what I appreciated most were all the rides to Home Depot just so I could lose myself down those aisles at Newbury Comics flipping through CDs, trying to find the coolest music imaginable.
*Can we admit that the Home Depot commercials have banging background music? (NOT AN AD FOR Home Depot, you guys)