Punch Brothers are one of my favorite bands. The musical talent and creativity these guys have is paramount. They were formed by Chris Thile (of Nickel Creek fame) as a vehicle to record the 40 minute long suite he composed called "The Blind Leaving The Blind." They went ahead and recorded an album of covers and original songs called How to Grow a Woman From the Ground, and then, a couple years later, finally went into the studio to record the suite. Punch is the result.
The one thing I value most in music is originality. An album can have great songs, but if it doesn't bring anything new to the table, its ceiling is a lot lower. Punch is about as unique as it gets...how many albums are there with bluegrass instrumentation, while being centered around a jazz and classical music influenced four-movement suite? This is certainly the only one I've heard.
Besides their phenomenal aptitude, and musical creativity, these guys just keep it interesting. I've seen them three times now, and each show was completely different. They might play their early material; they might play newer material; they might play some Beck, Radiohead, or Strokes; and they might even play some Bach.
Definitely check this one out if you like to be challenged.
Note: "The Blind Leaving the Blind" is the subject of an excellent new documentary called How to Grow a Band. I'm not sure if it's going to ever have a wide release, but it was a thoroughly engaging watch, and an interesting window into the trade-offs in trying to write the music you want vs. pleasing your audiences. I was fortunate enough to watch this documentary, and get a limited edition poster signed by the band.
Note 2: Check out the cover. I just noticed that they're sorted from shortest to tallest, and also from least dressed to most dressed. Awesome.
- The Blind Leaving the Blind
- Punch Bowl