Personnel: Scott Lucas (vocals, guitar); Ryan Harding (drums).
Audio Mixer: Andy Gerber.
Recording information: Electrical Audio; Million Yen.
Photographer: Katie Hovland.
Scott Lucas has tenacity like nobody's business. While plenty of bands that were competing in the post-Nirvana alt-rock sweepstakes are either gone or content to play their almost-hits in clubs a few times a year, Lucas' outfit Local H is, if anything, working harder and with greater ferocity today than they were when "Bound for the Floor" was in rotation on your town's X station. Despite a damaged set of vocal cords after being mugged in Moscow in 2013 and losing longtime drummer Brian St. Clair the same year, Lucas has stubbornly refused to slow down or throw in the towel, and if you doubt that he's running at full strength these days, you need to give 2015's Hey, Killer your immediate attention. Unlike many of Local H's albums, Hey, Killer isn't a concept piece with no larger narrative connecting the 11 songs, but if rage and a blunt refusal to give in to life's many unpleasant circumstances can count as a theme, then Hey, Killer might be a concept after all. The album might lack in thematic ambition compared to 12 Angry Months or Hallelujah! I'm a Bum, but in terms of sheer muscle and horsepower, this ranks with the toughest material in Local H's catalog, and also the fiercest. New drummer Ryan Harding brings a hard-swinging impact to this material, less flashy than St. Clair but with a rock-solid rhythmic core, and his precise meter and strength have given Lucas greater room to move, and Hey, Killer features some of the most savage guitar work to date. At 47 minutes, the album is shorter than the average Local H album, but it still feels complete and satisfyingly diverse, a collection of short stories about cities, lives, and ideals going down for the count, and the bruising but intelligent tone of these songs points to Lucas' (and Local H's) greatest virtues -- the ability to discuss larger issues without pretense or sloganeering, and playing music that's brutal and efficient, but not without intelligence and imagination. Local H is that rare hard rock band that has common sense smarts along with massive riffs and thundering drums, and Hey, Killer shows that Scott Lucas' refusal to give up is well-founded; 25 years into Local H's career, he and his band are honestly as good as ever, and taking nothing for granted. Want to bet they drop another album this good within three years? ~ Mark Deming