Review Summary: Genre-Bending at it's bendiest.
Larry and His Flask are a band that truly can't be pigeonholed in any way. They are the manifestation of what some would call a mess of influences - and with good reason. The forces at work within LAHF are numerous and as far removed from each other as they could possibly be. The bluegrass inspired folk-punk they play is a rare breed of sound, and when put on paper looks almost comical. The inconsistency here is that Larry and His Flask somehow figured out a way to make this mess into a masterpiece of a debut album. Well, maybe not a masterpiece but certainly an against-all-odds shining success.
All That We Know specifically succeeds in proving that the style of music the six members of Larry play is indeed fit for a full length release. It proves that the aggressiveness of punk music, the twangy sound associated with bluegrass and country and the sometimes quirky emotion of modern folk (think Andrew Jackson Jihad) can coexist as in the same space without one influence or the other being compromised in some way. "Ebb and Flow", one of the album's highlights and a rather reflective, introspective song, is a testament to the balance LAHF employs amongst the plethora of influences.
In addition to the mass of unsuspecting genres in the blender that is Larry and His Flask, there are a few unsuspecting instruments in the equation as well. The Mandolin is prevalent on the whole album though is given a few moments to shine, notably on "Our Will Be Done". Its tone is unmistakable and really defines the band's sound at all times. The upright bass is also a staple in the band's sound and is a component that is more clearly seen than it is heard because of how large it is during the live show. The harmonica also makes an occasional appearance in All That We Know.
The true genius of Larry and His Flask remains in the control they have over the innumerable different directions everything seems to be going in. That control is a direct result of the tight songwriting on All That We Know. Every idea and sound is placed so meticulously in each song as if it were a puzzle where one mistake could ruin the whole thing. For the most part, LAHF doesn't mess a thing up. The latter portion of the record really brings this to light with tracks like "Call it What you Will", "Ebb and Flow" and West Virginia Chocolate Drop".
Larry and His Flask is an enigma - a dichotomy between the members' longing to bring together elements that are crass and incompatible in nature and their clear passion for fluid and concise songwriting. It's an intentional refining of the unrefined. Larry and His Flask's talent gives way to the unlikely success of All That We Know - and in being a success may inspire other musicians to be just as ambitious. And if not, well, at least we'll still have Larry and His Flask.