Sometimes it’s tough to review albums just based on the merit of their tracks alone. The mind often wanders to the live venue — to how much fun it was that time you saw that
band play that one song live. Every subsequent time the song comes on the radio after that moment, that one song stands out as better than rest, associated with memories.
It is virtually impossible for me to review Larry And His Flask’s new album, All That We Know, because Larry And His Flask are the most rambunctious live band you have never heard of. The six-piece bluegrass/folk-punk outfit hail from the gorgeous central Oregon haven of Bend. Larry And His Flask look like a roving band of miscreants, at times launching into straight-up folk ballads, other times letting the godfathers of punk rock carry their tunes and song structures.
Songs like “Land of the F(r)ee” and “Blood Drunk” are reminiscent of vintage Against Me!, heavy on the punk, but Larry And His Flask are equally heavy on the bluegrass. The banjos diddle away in the back and the standup bass slaps away with that authentic roots sound. Only the way the instrumentation is delivered is less than authentic. Southern folk is the music to be enjoyed while sitting on the porch sipping mint juleps; Larry And His Flask make music to be enjoyed after one’s robbing a bank and making a getaway in a classic Model T ala O Brother Where Art Thou?.
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It is tracks like those that make Larry And His Flask semi-fitting for Warped Tour this summer. But the band is far from a one trick pony. Many songs like “Beggars May Ride” throw in a rowdy sailor sound, one that pays less homage to Bill Monroe and more to Davey Jones’ locker. When they’re locked into those punk blasts, gang vocals, and all around berserk energy is when All That We Know is really at its best.
Just like the band’s live performances, All That We Know is a very fun album. On its own, it is far from anything that breaks the genre wide open. Larry And His Flask are content with merely blurring the lines, but in that process, they will have you kicking up a dust storm, dancing such a violent jig that you won’t even notice. Folk, bluegrass, and Americana have never been this fun in the studio.