Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 -- #51: "Beggars Will Ride" -- Larry and His Flask

Oregon's Larry and His Flask is one of the best fusion acts to come along in a while. After beginning as a punk rock (and a "shitty" one, at that -- their words, not mine!), the band's remaining members reinvented themselves, learning instruments normally associated with bluegrass. Former lead singer Jamin Marshall moved to drums, and Ian Cook took over lead vocals. And lo and behold, we have bluegrass-punk.

The six-piece released their first full-length since the shift in 2011, with many songs that were already live favorites finding their way onto the recording. After years busking and honing their talent on the streets of big cities, Larry and His Flask have not only developed as quasi-bluegrass musicians, but have also translated each song to the studio recording admirably. It was going to be a tall order to capture the magic of the songs on recording, and while the band is obviously still learning what's what, this is a laudable first effort.

"Beggars Will Ride" is actually a holdover from the band's punk days, but with added bluegrass flair. Add in a side of rockabilly, and you have a rip-roaring tune that fits snugly into the Larry and His Flask vein.

Cook's guitar is very, VERY rooted in the days when rock music was first coming to prominence. The airy sounds of accordion are also present, as with, as always, banjo and other acoustic instrumentation.

One of Larry and His Flask's biggest strengths is their vocals. Cook is great as the lead, but just about every member has a pleasant enough voice that harmonies are a breeze.

The band has also been an expert at capturing the most raucous elements of punk and introducing them into bluegrass -- which is already sort of like the punk cousin of country music, isn't it? As with many of the bluegrass-flavored acts that have reached prominence in recent years, the band does not limit itself to what the genre usually offers, creating instead a faction within the music that has its own feel and appeal. "Beggars Will Ride" represents this wholeheartedly. You can already tell that the song is a delight to hear and see live (and it's true, it is!).

2011 was a big year for Larry and His Flask, and 2012 is sure to bring even more notoriety to the fledgling group. But until then, rest easy knowing that you were likely one of the first to hear about them. Aside from some of the Warped Tour crowd and occasional diehards elsewhere, they're still relatively unknown. But one listen to their new record, and one gets the feeling things won't stay that way too much longer.

No comments:


Blog Archive