I’m a bluegrass lover. I’m a punk lover. And, to be honest, I have found that it doesn’t get much better than fusing the two. Larry and His Flask have come rambling back into our hearts with high energy and banjos ablaze in the boys’ latest EP Hobo’s Lament. This new album pulls from their previous releases while managing to improve upon them.
LAHF started out as a sort of grunge-punk band, prioritizing partying over putting out quality music. They eventually reconciled their love for partying and music into a new bluegrass-infused punk sound that is best appreciated live. The Flask boys first made a name for themselves at 2011’s Vans Warped Tour, blowing spectators out of the water with their high-energy performance. Seeing a banjo-induced mosh pit is certainly a sight you won’t soon forget.
While the raw energy of their live performances cannot be easily transferred onto recordings, Hobo’s Lament does an excellent job of displaying the band’s powerful sound. Released on Paper + Plastick, this EP has the darkness of their self-titled EP but also the accessibility and excitement of last year’s full-length.
Album opener “Closed Doors” starts off ominously with expressive strings before breaking down into a jaunty Flask standard. While bringing accessibility to bluegrass and employing those beautiful harmonies, the boys start the EP off right with a song worthy of a spot on 2011’s nearly flawless All That You Know.
“Big Ride” is good but forgettable, while title-track “Hobo’s Lament” is one of the more accessible tracks on the album and presents a microcosm of the band’s sound: toe-tapping percussion, twangy strings and awesome vocal harmonies. One of the faster-paced tracks of the album, “Swing” comes the closest to recreating the energy of a live performance, with horns and strings blazing to the point where you just want to yell the words along with the band.
Album closer “So Long” will likely be the hit or miss song of the bunch, as it is undoubtedly different than the other five tracks. With moaning horns and barbershop-esque vocal harmonies, this song could easily pass as having been created decades ago. While this track has a noticeably lowered energy level, it can certainly hold its own and is quite reminiscent of last year’s “I’ll Be Gone.” It may not make you want to yell and take shots of whiskey like the other tracks do, but it beautifully resolves the album while exhibiting the band’s musical maturation.
If nothing else, Hobo’s Lament shows that the Flask boys aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. With refined songwriting, amplified passion and dedicated performing, this EP proves that we can only expect bigger and better things to continue coming out of these Oregonians. If you have yet to catch them live, they are currently on tour playing shows almost every single night. If you have experienced them live before, I’m sure you’ve already purchased your ticket.