In 2011, Larry And His Flask proved that they could nail an awesome fusion of punk and bluegrass with their “All That We Know” album. In their 2012 EP “Hobo’s Lament,” the band attempts to go beyond that sound, and I’m glad they did.
Let’s take it track by track. The opener “Closed Doors” is the most similar to anything on the previous record. However, that doesn’t mean it’s boring or stale. It’s a really solid, fast-paced folk punk tune, and a good opener to transition into some new territory. Next up is “Big Ride,” which is definitely my favorite track. There’s a fantastic horn trio bridge that Mad Caddies fans should definitely check out. While the addition of a trumpet, trombone, and baritone is nothing new to the band, the horn section overall sounds a whole lot more polished than anything we’ve heard in the past. The third track, “My Name Is Cancer,” is an older track that the band has been playing for years. It didn’t do much to grab my attention and I tend to skip it when listening. But for the weakest song in the album, you could do a whole lot worse.
The title track is simply great. It’s in the slightly softer tunes like this that the band’s vocal three or sometimes four part harmonies really shine out and make the choruses what they are. I haven’t found out which band member switches to vocals in “Swing,” but his voice is much better suited for that tune than it was in “My Name Is Cancer.” Really, the Al Barr growl tends to hit or miss, but this song is a solid hit. “So Long” is a beautiful closer, with a really laid back 1940’s swing feel, complete with a great tinny trombone solo that I can completely imagine hearing over a phonograph. Melodically, the track seems to call back a bit to “Hobo’s Lament,” but more relaxed. Now that I think about it, this could be my favorite track on the tune.
I’d say the band’s attempt to diversify their sound was a great success. I’m very much looking forward to seeing further explore the new sounds that they’ve set precedent for in this EP. 4.0/5 stars.