As I understand it, Local H has a pretty devout following in certain circles. Honestly, until the post-punk lo-fi duo tackled Britney Spears’ “Toxic” in ’05, I was only familiar with “Bound For The Floor” through local radio; I didn’t think too deeply into it beyond the usage of favorite slang term “copacetic.” Local H is appealing, though maybe I simply missed the train, so after 2005, I started digging about the catalog and coalescing with the ’90s retro style. Now, I have this mixtape.
If you have read my review on The Flaming Lips’ A-to-B re-imagining of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, you are wholly informed of my stance on covers and remixes, et cetera. It can usually go one of two ways: either a lazy rehash or a bonafide tribute with some added “oomph.”
Local H is an astounding exception, breaking in the third category by being that grunge rock buddy in homeroom who’s always saying, “Dude, you’ve gotta hear this shit!” before shoving an old cassette in your face with Sharpie all over it; we would not have it any other way.
Awesome Mixtape #1 is aptly titled beyond a shadow of a doubt; it is that awesome. When you listen to this album, the natural instinct to pick apart what these guys in a garage did to fuck up your tunes goes out the window. After a click and a beep (yes, cassette sound effects), we run with TV On The Radio’s “Wolf Like Me” as it gets mutated into Ramones fuzz and PUSA vocals, a meshing of ’90s and punk that feels so organic you wonder why The Presidents never opted to embrace distortion more often.
Concrete Blonde’s “Joey” is probably the single least appealing song here, but what it does do is make me want to discover Concrete Blonde; alternately, The Jesus Lizard’s “Puss” (a single once sharing a split release with Nirvana’s “Oh, The Guilt”) is an exact copy of its original with some sharper kicks in the treble and Scott Lucas’ vocals resembling Josh Homme. Even when the covers get manhandled there is absolute pleasure to be found, right alongside that crazy buddy banging his head while you drive around suburbia in your dad’s sedan.
Winnebago Deal’s “Spiderbite” and Agent Orange’s “Blood Stains” seem to smack you in the face with Fugazi flavors and muted punk on short two plus minute bursts that hit without warning until we come to one of the two big prizes to be had here: a post-punk rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Time” from (coincidentally) Dark Side Of The Moon. Here is your breakdown of the recipe: Take Dave Grohl and have him sing from the drum kit, add a dash of drastically stripped down Mogwai, cut out the clocks at the beginning, start the song on a surge of fuzz, and literally drown yourself in it. Tack on the Clerks alternate ending wherein Dante gets gunned down, and presto! Local H’s “Time” — not Pink Floyd, but Local H. That, my friends, is not even a re-imagining; it is taking the original by the balls and choking it with flannel.
I do not know how many of you out there remember recording actual mixtapes on cassette with everything from shoddy FM stereos and a record button to the audiophile-privy stacked systems, but some would say that making a mixtape is an art in and of itself. Local H has gone the way of loud alternative radio tapering off to an indie rock and acoustic slant for closing, leaving you wanting to replay it all over again.
After taking on Pete Doherty and Peter Wolfe’s collaboration “For Lovers” and turning a piano-clad Brit-rock tune into the Americanized and more “in your face” guitar jam, we get a special treat — an acoustic ballad version of The Misfits’ “Last Caress”. Yes, Local H turned one of the darkest punk songs ever written by one of the creepiest punk bands we know and made it into something a college douche would sing into his laptop’s built-in microphone (if he were, you know, a sadist in a skull mask). This juxtaposition alone is enough to warrant me pulling a big WTF moment.
This is how Awesome Mixtape #1 dies out. This is how Local H spreads the word about damn good punk rock, UK indie, and classic progressive. My homeroom buddy might be a bit of a dick, and all in all I might be also, but this is the kind of CD that makes you do a “Bohemian Rhapsody”/Wayne’s World move in the old man’s POS after school’s out.
Screw the iPod, I want this sucker on tape! No school like the old school, people.