Who, or what, is Blankus Larry?
The psychedelic garage-rockers are, they say, “unanimously anonymous,” hiding behind “Larry-fied” stage names: Durdy Larry, Bloody Larry, Cuzin Larry, Larry Carey, and Blutarticus Larry. Even the band’s name implies an absence of distinction.
The mystery makes Blankus Larry’s latest album, Hell or High Larry a strange, compelling listen-one well worth your time and repeated attention. To listen is to travel through a psychedelic landscape pockmarked by feedback explosions and primal, swaggering drumbeats.
Swagger is Blankus Larry’s most easily identifiable, unique trait. They strut through their soundscapes with direction and purpose belied by their bemusing humor.
The swinging drums of “General Washington” sound like the band is doing battle in the desert, while the pummeling power chords of “Soldiers of the Snake” go for your jugular and refuse to let go.
The album’s highlight is the eight-minute epic, “Nassau,” opening with its slashing guitar riff and vaunting beat. Fuzzy guitar solos start trading off with each other, making you realize what the Rolling Stones would have sounded like had Neil Young replaced Brian Jones instead of Mick Taylor. After a brief, unintelligible vocal part at the seven minute mark, the song erupts into blissed, feedback drenched guitar ecstasy.
The strength of sound and emotion on Hell or High Larry is no accident. The violent, kinetic imagery implied by titles like “I Am A Heatseeker,“ “Thunder Studies,” “General Washington,” and “Soldiers of the Snake” suggest the band is fighting to find something amid the swirl of fuzz-drenched sonics they’ve created. What that something is-is anyone’s guess. Any lyrical clues are rendered unreadable by foggy, muddled vocals, buried beneath the band’s psychedelic sound.
It’s as if Blankus Larry is determined to remain a mystery, come Hell or High Larry.