Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'd Rather Burn Long in Hell, 'Cuz Breaking You Heart Was a Sin

There's a strange dichotomy I've noticed in Scott Lucas of Local H. He has made some of my all-time favorite music. I have been as consistent a fan of Local H for the last fourteen years as any band. My appreciation for Chris Cornell has waxed and waned. My love of Pearl Jam hasn't been overly faithful. I lost track of Roger Clyne for the first few years of the Peacemakers. But I've always considered Local H one of my top bands (well, aside from that brief interlude where I only listened to country, but we don't talk about that). I've seen Local H live so many times I've lost track. Some of my favorite memories are in some way tied to Local H. The thing about Scott Lucas, though, is that I don't like any of the music he likes. I forgot about this when I was on the Local H website the other day and saw that he was putting out a side project. George Lassos the Moon by Scott Lucas & the Married Men came out yesterday. It arrived in the mail yesterday as well, and I picked it up on my way in to the office this morning. The box with the album came with an ad card for the side project. I read one of the reviews by a Neph Basedow and all of the sudden I realized, "Oh, yeah, I don't like what Scott Lucas likes. This might completely suck." The reason was one word in the middle of the first sentence: "It was refreshing to witness a Chicago rock staple take the bold step out of the alt-rock confines and into an artistically progressive musical genre, free of the distortion pedal." The word was "progressive." I suddenly thought, "Oh, shit, Scott Lucas put out a prog-rock album." Turns out I should have read the last clause. Right around track four, "What Fools Allow," I came up with the strangest way to explain an album I think I'll ever create: "This is Scott Lucas's version of Over the Rhine's Ohio." Artistically progressive, yes. Prog-rock, no. Not in a million years. It's an absolutely amazing album. Especially because it's a follow-up to 12 Angry Months. As I listened I knew that. Then I read the biography page on the website. "Lucas wrote half the songs for his solo debut during a single week of a year-long separation from his girlfriend, emailing one song a night in hopes of getting back together." My copy of the album came in the same box as my copy of the 68 Angry Minutes concert DVD. I wrote a lot about that album back when it first came out, back when I stood ten feet from Lucas at that show and felt the anger and pain of that album wash over the crowd. Back when I felt the catharsis. That was less than two months after Her. It was when I wanted to be angry and wounded and blame Her for all the things that had gone wrong. It's funny. Nearly three years later I'm in a different city, preparing to start life anew. George Lassos the Moon is a whole new catharsis. Music is so much more than sounds and words and instrumentation. It's about the place we are when we meet it. And much like I needed 12 Angry Months in May of 2008 I find that I needed George Lassos the Moon now. They're the yin and yang. 12 Angry Months is the part where you rail against the other, try to blame her for all that went wrong. George Lassos the Moon is where you realize that you, too, were at fault. It's quieter, sadder, more hopeful, more melodic. Anger is brash and loud. It has to be, because it's an attempt to drown out the part that says, "No, I did wrong, too." Because the thing is that we need to find forgiveness. It's always important to receive forgiveness from the one we've wronged, but the thing is that even if that forgiveness is not forthcoming, we need it from someone else, too. Ourselves. Even if you're not writing songs hoping to get back together, you need to move forward. And the thing that holds us back the most is the self. The thing is, even if you don't understand where I'm coming from, even if you don't need that closure, good music stands on its own merits. And George Lassos the Moon is damn good music by any metric.

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