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Editors’ Notes

Chris Thile has shown a maverick streak ever since his days with Nickel Creek. This gifted bluegrass renegade takes even greater chances on Antifogmatic>, an altogether satisfying successor to the Brothers’ debut album Punch. Thile’s eerie high-tenor vocals and skittering mandolin style sets the tone for this challenging and often startling set. The Appalachian underpinnings of his combo remain evident here, especially on the spirited “Rye Whiskey.” More often than not, though, elements of progressive jazz and European cabaret motifs dominate the music, spurring Thile and his bandmates into complex, tempo-shifting arrangements that heighten the moodiness of the tunes. The weirdly comic “Next to the Trash” and the romantically conflicted “You Are” are indicative of the album’s curious (and haunting) lyric sensibility. The downcast “This Is the Song (Good Luck)” acknowledges current hard times, while “Alex” offers a skewed portrait of a lady friend. As an ensemble, the Punch Brothers display both virtuosity and imagination, with Gabe Witcher earning special mention for his dazzling fiddle flights.

Customer Reviews

I mean... if you really like this kinda stuff.

I suppose this album is alright. If you're into groundbreaking ideas of musical form and chordal structure coupled with ingenious and surprisingly compatible genres of music. If you enjoy the same old hum-drum shallow minded simple music than this album is not for you. I guess you should only buy this album if you want something new and fresh to listen to that doesn't get old and can riddle your body with those pesky goosebumps. If thats not what you are looking for. Then I'd go somewhere else.

5 Solid Stars

Five Stars for me is a very small universe. It is reserved for Albums defined by excellence and timelessness. They are albums that in their day are ground breaking and over time stand the test of those that follow. This is one. This is the type of album that will influence and challenge. Educating a listeners ear and inspiring other artists new and old.

The Punch Brothers challenge their listeners with songs that combine amazing playing, solid songwriting, beautiful harmonies along with sometimes purposely atonal segues that could be jarring and distracting, but instead fit and give the songs new and deeper meaning . They are not only pushing the boundaries of their music, but also their instruments. Like Hendicks with the guitar (without the lighter fluid) and Miles with the trumpet. They are redefining not just the music played, but how it is played and what the instruments can do.

I discovered The Punch Brothers last year through a random collection of coincidental events that all pointed me toward checking them out. I liked and was challenged by their prior album 'Punch'. I felt I had a sense of what they were trying to do, but the album didn't fully capture the band that I saw live on stage. I was blown away with their live performance. I can only liken it to the feeling I felt from my first Springsteen concert in '77. It was a high wire act where you know that the performance holds nothing back and is constantly pushing the boundaries. Philippe Petit didn't just walk arrows the tightrope between the Twin Towers. He did it 8 times, for 45 minutes. He embraced the risk, drew strength from it and even though his goal was accomplished, he continued to push himself further and further. Thus is the experience of The Punch Brothers live. They throw themselves and their instruments at their music. They do it with abandon and yet in a way that feels intimate and inclusive of their audience. Many performers need to create a wall and isolate themselves to focus in a performance. You don't feel that with The Punch Brothers. You feel part of it all. You feel part of something that only exists at that moment in time and is special. That is where the magic really happens. That is the true magic of a live performance when you are lucky. You feel you are part of their musical and personal journey.

They are on an evolutionary process that has lead them to their new album 'ANTIFOGMATIC'. With 'ANTIFOGMATIC' they have managed to both continue to push the boundaries of their music further while at the same time making it more accessible. To pull this off with out compromising almost always fails. I think the success of their latest effort has so much to do with where the band members have come from and why they all signed up for the ride. Their music continues to defy categorization and yet there is clearly a signature that is emerging connecting it all. It is truly an Album, a collection of songs that belong together. Something that is far too rare these days. There is no filler here.

The opening song 'You Are' sets the mark and the train leaves the station and takes you through a rich array of canvases on which they paint their music. 'Alex' is a personal favorite of mine. It gently builds, adding layers from an almost inaudible 18 second intro, into a song that is so simple and yet so rich with style. 'Missy' could be be the sleeper song of the Album. This song has such a deep soul to its narrative and form. 'Next to the Trash' highlights the wit, whimsy and intelligence that pervades their songs. The closing number 'This is the Song' could easily be the anthem of our time. Somber and haunting.

This is the type of Album people used to make when people thought of Albums as a complete work and radio played Album cuts, not singles. The songs are present in the best form possible for the song vs. packaged for radio. It is is a brave move. Clearly a conscious move and one I think they will be recognized for.

The production on the album is perfect. It is produced and mixed with such care that it is invisible. Letting the music truly stand on its own. Keeping true to the Bands acoustic nature and producing a work of art that demands your attention. This is a not an album designed for causal listening. It is not designed for the lowest common denominator of a car stereo speaker. This is one of those rare albums that makes you glad you still own a stereo with full range speakers. It ranges from gentle, barely audible passages to jolting in your face jams. It is the first album in years that makes me glad I still own a turntable as you know that this is a work where that the unrestricted range of analog will be explored. (and yes it is being released on Vinyl)

The Punch Brothers are genre bending. Breaking through the structural limits of traditional Bluegrass and exploring what it can be from combining rich elements of Classical, Jazz and Rock. They are exploring what they can be as musicians and what they can create as a group, with the whole truly being greater than its parts. The result is feels like Coldplay meets Bluegrass with a dose of Radiohead, XTC and J. S. Bach thrown in. Individually their background is steeped in Bluegrass and Folk but their influences are range the gambit.

It is an exciting Journey they are taking and I am enjoying them including their audience on the ride. I hope you hop on and check them out too. I can't wait to see (and hear) where they take us next. Check out 'ANTIFOGMATIC' and get out to see them live.

Breath Taking!

Hands down the best sounding acoustic record I've ever heard. This record is another mile marker for music in the likes of "Sgt. Peppers" and "Pet Sounds". Ok. Maybe that is a little over the top but a ground breaking record nonetheless. The material is more accessible than their last release "Punch" but just as compelling, if not more. Bravo Punch Brothers!


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

After Nickel Creek disbanded in 2007, mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile assembled an all-star quintet called Punch Brothers (the name comes from the Mark Twain short story Punch, Brothers, Punch!) with guitarist Chris Eldridge, formerly of the Infamous Stringdusters; bassist Greg Garrison, who has played with Ron Miles and Leftover Salmon; banjo player Noam Pikelny, who has worked with John Cowan and Tony Trischka, and violinist Gabe Witcher, a sought-after session musician and a member of Jerry Douglas'...
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