Oregon brothers create an eclectic yet cohesive web of instruments
Brothers Jesse and Jamin Marshall lead the band Larry and His Flask through their sonic journey. Created in 2003 in Bend, Oregon, the Marshall brothers were joined by Beau Batts, Ian Cook and Brian Martin, collectively making them into a punk band. However, after years of working together, member changes and finding themselves musically, they have evolved greatly. Straying far from their punk roots which seem to have been left behind, Larry and His Flask continues on their bluegrassy, horn-filled brand of Americana that has defined this group’s post-punk phase with their incredibly strong album This Remedy.
This Remedy is a jazzy, southern mess, and it’s beautiful. Banjos are complemented with horns and fiddles are contrasted with quick drum rolls. The first song on the album is a perfect example of this. The Marshall brothers waste no time showing their musical proficiency in “Atonement” with hurried banjos, loud drums and swooning horns that give an image of old New Orleans. While it does not start as strong as “Atonement” does, the second song on the album, “Doing Fine,” is a nice transition into the rest of the tracks. Still full of horns and a quick drum line, this particular song slows and eases the listener into the next song on the album: “This Remedy.” “This Remedy” is the title track to the album for a reason. The song begins with a simple electric guitar straight out of an old Waylon Jennings song about the road. It blossoms into a sea of mandolins, fiddles, acoustic and electric guitars, it’s then paired with Ian Cook’s voice and an isolated banjo allowing his gritty voice to shine through.
Larry and His Flask show their dexterity on “Never All the Times.” In a sound unlike them, the song opens up with a series of piano chords similar to the likes of one of Coldplay’s love songs. These chords are backed by a rock ‘n’ roll electric guitar. This combination creates a simple yet charming melody that is a nice change of pace to have in an album that feels as if it is constantly moving. Another way people see the energy of the album interrupted is in the song, “You Won’t,” but in a very different way. Powerful guitar riffs and sharp banjo play offer an intense, frantic feeling that works perfectly with the aggressive lyrics of the song. “You Won’t” is an ironically angry song about someone that “won’t” stop being angry. However, the anger fades and listeners find the last song on the album: “Three Manhattans.” “Three Manhattans” begins with a piano riff that could be found in a classy southern cocktail lounge. But, just as one seems to be settling in, that bluesy Larry and His Flask sound hits people’s ears, and the classy cocktail lounge is turned into a dance hall or cornfield kegger.
Larry and His Flask are incredibly multi-faceted musicians, and their music shows it. People may find aspects of Country, Rock, Bluegrass, Americana, Blues, Jazz and even Polka in many of their songs. This band demonstrates their many instruments and sounds all at the same time, and it still sounds good. Many times, music can become muddled or too intricate with too many noises. Larry and His Flask achieves a level of sophistication and layering that only some of the greats like Lauryn Hill or Prince have been able to do. Because of this layering, instrumentation and lyrics, This Remedy is an album that should be looked into further by the general population because if there is an Americana album that deserves attention, it is this one.