vrijdag 18 mei 2012
All that we know. Larry and his Flask
The first listen taught me two things: Larry and his Flask manages to catch the energy of its performance on tape, with the main difference that most lyrics now can be understood better; I'm going to play this record more often. Just listen how opening song 'Land of the f(r)ee' plays out. This up-tempo song with traditional instruments in the forefront is split open in the middle with a great jazz-like solo. Through the whole song some great harmonizing takes place. Shouts and hollers in the background seem to goad the band forward, like a cattle heard driven over the mighty plains of the U.S. of A. As if they need it!
A great sleeve by the way. It reminds me of my 'Grapes of wrath' and 'Tortilla flat' copies, book covers of the Penguin classic issued somewhere in the first half of the 80ties. We see a withered, bearded man. Perhaps a fisherman. Looking at us through one blackened, thus heavily accented, tired and slightly desperate eye. It shows some clear urgency, translating the music into paint.
Comparisons for this music galore. If we think away the prominent drum and electric guitar we run straight into the realm of The Hackensaw Boys. No one I know comes closer. There are enough differences, but mainly that the tempo never really goes down as it does with The Hackensaw Boys. Not that all songs are in hurricane mode. 'No life' is a quiet song for Larry and his Flask and further down the record there is a real ballad 'End of an era' and even more so with 'Slow it down'. On the other hand they even sound slightly like Green Day in some songs, with 'American idiot' turned into 'Manifest destiny'. If Billie Joe c.s. would allow mandolins in their songs, bingo. (And then this song changes into a suite and then a polka like piano exercise. Full of surprises these guys. Hey!) What Dropkick Murphys does for Irish folk, Larry and his Flask does for americana, pick it up by the shoulders, shake it violently around, kick its butt and let it loose on humanity. Punk is in the way songs are played, not in the instruments used. This band proves this on nearly every song.
What I seemed to take away from the Q-Bus, but could have been disguised in the storm, is confirmed in truckloads on All that we know: Larry and his Flask writes memorable songs that are worthwhile listening to outside of the stage context. What is a real shame though, is that a lyric that I heard live as "If fishes were horses" turned out to be "If wishes were horses". I would have loved to hear what these fishes would have done for the beggars in "Beggars will ride". The song is as good on record as on stage with even a accordion added to the fun. It has a punk like rolling rhythm laced with a melody that is instantly singable. The album did not just convince me. My girlfriend said after the show: "Are you buying the record? I don't think I need to hear this at home". She changed her mind since.
And then the song 'Ebb and flow' still has to come. This beautiful song graces the middle of the album. Beautifully sung, full of energy that is spread round this song with a great dynamic. This makes it extremely exciting to listen to as well. The way the band deploys instruments is shown again here. All of a sudden the copper shows up. (I remember how surprised I was during the gig. Where is this coming from?) In the instrumental choir part of the song, it is made clear for once and for all how great the melody of the chorus is. The cheers at the end are well deserved.
Slowly it dawns on me that All that we know is not just a good album, it is one of the very best releases in 2012 so far. (Damn, it was released in 2011, but not to me, okay?) To think that this is all that Larry and his Flask knows today. I can't wait to find out what the band knows tomorrow and the day after. As the band has the energy with the songs to boot, it may be going a long way, far beyond the Q-Bus, but hey, I was there. And so can you, perhaps for the last time in such a small venue on Wednesday 23 May 2012.
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