Thursday, June 27, 2013

Other Music You Should Be Listening To - Larry and His Flask -By The Lamp Light Edition

Other Music You Should Be Listening To is an ongoing series wherein I identify bands and musicians whose work I enjoy.  Many of you already know about this music and will either revel in our shared opinions or post comments about just how wrong I am.  Either way, it should be fun.  If you don't already know about this music rest assured it is worth your time to check it out.

Larry and His Flask are at point in their musical life that very few bands reach. Right now, they are as close to being a perfect band as is humanly possible. Seeing them live is an absolute revelation. They attack the stage with the kind of ferocity and enthusiasm that would make Henry Rollins proud. On top of playing really, really hard, they are also really, really good at playing their multiple instruments. Their recorded material, thankfully and somewhat miraculously, truly conveys the same energy and talent that they demonstrate live. On top of that, they are a band with some things to say, and their songs are really well written. They just relased a new record called "By The Lamp Light", and it is awesome.

 From the "Hobo's Lament" EP

This record continues with a sound that is hard to categorize that the band adopted sometime around 2009-10 after beginning as a punk band. Punk energy still exists in the songs and DIY touring ethos of the band (you can see a ton of videos of them busking and playing in the crowd at festivals), but the sound has evolved into an amalgam of bluegrass, punk, jazz, and ragtime rock that seems like it should be hard to pull off. The band makes it all work, though, and the result is transcendent.

By The Lamp Light

By The Lamp Light isn't as immediately catchy throughout as its predecessors, the full-length "All That We Know" or the EP "Hobo's Lament". That is not a bad thing, though. The record is just as good if not better than those, but it may require a few more spins before you are singing along with every track. Singer Ian Cooke has a great and unique voice that can make a sad song seem happy, or he can deliver a ballad with complete sincerity without it becoming maudlin. He is also quite an accomplished guitarist who uses a lot of jazz influence (and an overdriven jazz guitar) to add complex leads to many of the songs that never come off like the guitar-wankery that many such talented players can't get over. The rhythm section consists of the Marshall brothers, Jeshua and Jamin, who founded the band. They both play multiple roles in the band, including some vocals and baritone horn, and their manic energy drives the live show. Andrew Carew plays the hell out of the banjo and takes lead vocals on some songs as well. He delivers on both fronts as well as the trombone. The interplay of the banjo and lead guitar are consistently very impressive. Rounding out the band are Dallin Bulkley on acoustic guitar, vocals, and general madness and Kirk Skatvold on mandolin and trumpet. Bulkley and Skatvold add elements of roots music into the band that serve as the perfect foundation for all that goes on around them. I can't tell from recent videos or their website if Skatvold is still with the band or not, but it would be a shame if he isn't.

I realize I am throwing all kinds of accolades at these guys like they are my best friends, but they really are that good. They are one of very few bands currently working that make me feel the need to purchase every record and see every show possible. Do yourself a favor and check them out asap.

From the full-length "All That We Know"

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