Review: Last False Hope- The Shape of Bluegrass to Come
Attention purists! Do not click on this article. Just take my word for it that you will not like The Shape of Bluegrass to Come, meaning both the EP by Last False Hope and the future of the bluegrass genre in general. Go back to your classic Stanley Brothers and Flatt & Scruggs records. (I love those guys too, of course, but there comes a time when every genre needs to evolve.) As for the rest of you, read on.
Last False Hope was formed in Chicago in late 2009 by a group of musicians who came to the bluegrass world from vastly different arenas, namely the death metal and hardcore music scenes. On The Shape of Bluegrass to Come, the group’s debut EP for Pint of Happiness Records, they unite all of these elements, as well as their common love of bluegrass, into one strong consistent sound.
The first two songs on the EP, “Giving Up God for Lent” and “Drag Me to Hell,” fully explore the gap between hardcore and bluegrass and ultimately find that the two styles have a lot in common: frantic energy, a demand for strong musicianship, lyrical themes dealing with hard luck and hard times, and, perhaps most importantly, both scenes have a strong sense of community and culture tied to them. Underground punk legend Stza, best known as the vocalist for Choking Victim and Leftover Crack, even makes an appearance on “Drag Me to Hell,” singing a duet with Last False Hope vocalist Jashie P.
The EP continues with the frenzied “You Drink, You Drive, She Wins,” a very short number that, more than any other tune here, owes a major debt to traditional hardcore. The EP then closes with the mandolin-heavy folk metal of “Dying and Diseased,” the best song here and one that fully showcases the band’s strengths and their limitless potential of winning unlikely fans over to bluegrass and country music.
The Shape of Bluegrass to Come is clearly not for everybody, but to me it’s one of the most impressive debuts of 2011 thus far and as a former metalhead it made me feel a little less weird for listening to Merle Haggard and Venom back to back. In a way, that’s the goal of this EP and this band: to say it’s just music, so enjoy it and don’t worry about what genre it is. That’s why they will reach fans who the Nashville and “Americana” establishments don’t really care about and for that reason, Last False Hope is one of the most important acts to come around in quite some time.
Jashie P, the lead vocalist and mandolin player for Last False Hope, also hosts the online radio show Outlaw Radio Chicago every Wednesday night at Saving Country Music.