Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Punch Brothers

Chris Thile is known already for his work with Nickel Creek, the trio that was to bluegrass what Whiskeytown was to country, a breath of fresh air. However with Nickel Creek currently "not broken up, but not together" Thile finds himself two albums deep with his new outfit The Punch Brothers. Antifogmatic can be called a bluegrass album, it does contain a few songs with that traditional hand-clapping toe-tapping sound the genre is so well acquainted with. However, this album takes that sound, breaks it apart and reconstructs it into something completely fresh. This album is complex, ornate and most of all ambitious. Take the song "Alex" for instance, one would not expect rapid fire mandolin to work in a song with a slower pace as that, but it does and quite well at that. That's what is most engaging about Antifogmatic, it's an album that could have easily failed, yet the musicians absolutely nail it and create something unbelievably special. Thile continues to be a force of nature in the world of Bluegrass with another successful group. Quite simply, Antifogmatic is the best bluegrass record I have heard all year.
Another way to experience the talent of The Punch Brothers is to watch some of the songs they cover on YouTube. I'm going to show you two of my favorites, but there are a bunch more online.
The first would have to be a cover of Radiohead's "Packt Like Sardines In A Crushed Tin Box" off of Amnesiac. This song is complex enough as it is, but for a bluegrass band to cover it so well is quite an achievement. This is just another example of how The Punch Brothers are expanding their genre.

The next cover is of "Reptilia" by The Strokes, not much can be said except they are on fire in this video.

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