Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Punch Brothers are in London, where they played at Scala last night and will perform on Later Live ... with Jools Holland tonight at 22:00 on BBC Two. Fans in the UK can tune in tonight to see the band perform "This Girl," off their new album, Who's Feeling Young Now?, released earlier this year on Nonesuch Records. Then tune in again this Friday at 23:05 for the full, one-hour episode of Later to see Punch Brothers perform the album's opening track, "Movement and Location," as well. For additional details on the show, go to bbc.co.uk.

The Wall Street Journal's music writer Jim Fusilli, who calls Who's Feeling Young Now? "terrific," sat down with Punch Brothers' Chris Thile and Noam Pikelny to discuss their new album, their innovative and ever-evolving music, and its relationship to the legacy of Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs. Watch the piece below.

The New York Daily News has included the band and their new album on the Top 10 Things in Music for the past two weeks. American Songwriter magazine gives Who's Feeling Young Now? four stars. What Punch Brothers " established on 2010’s Antifogmatic the band takes even further on Who’s Feeling Young Now?," says American Songwriter's Nick Zaino. "The musical leaps Punch Brothers takes are invigorating, sometimes breathtaking." Read the four-star review at americansongwriter.com.

The band heads next to Tel Aviv, Israel, for two days of performances at Hangar 11 as part of the White City Music Festival. The Jerusalem Post, in a preview of the shows, calls them "one of the most acclaimed and upcoming young American bands." Their "eclecticism, encompassing strains of everything from alt-pop and classical to discordant electronica and classic rock—and let’s not forget, bluegrass—has been the lifeblood of the Punch Brothers" since the start, says the Post's David Brinn. Read more and see what Noam Pikelny has to say at jpost.com.

Watch Chris Thile and Noam Pikelny's interview with the Wall Street Journal here:

Thursday, 26 April 2012
Punch Brothers have brought their US headlining tour to New York City for a sold-out show at The Town Hall—the band's headlining debut at the famed Hall—with Jesca Hoop opening. In advance of the show, band mates Chris Thile and Noam Pikelny spoke with the New York Times's James C. McKinley Jr. for an Arts Beat piece about the evolution of the band's music from their Nonesuch debut album, Punch, through their next, Antifogmatic, and their latest album, Who's Feeling Young Now?.

"It has always been hard to pigeonhole Punch Brothers. They are an all-star bluegrass band, five virtuosos led by Chris Thile, the mercurial mandolin player, but their songs smash the three-chord harmonies and blazing march rhythm of bluegrass," writes McKinley. "They write dramatic, labyrinthine pieces that straddle genres. Sometimes they sound like a progressive art rock group going acoustic, sometimes like an avant-garde jazz combo with an Earl Scruggs-style banjo mixed in and sometimes like down-home pickers at a county fair. Above the music floats Mr. Thile’s clear tenor, singing deeply personal lyrics, usually about love’s collateral damage. It is restless music, by musicians so preternaturally talented they get bored easily with fiddle tunes."

Read more from McKinley and see what Thile and Pikelny have to say at nytimes.com.

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Punch Brothers are also the subject of a feature article in the New York Daily News by the paper's music critic, Jim Farber, who also notes the Scruggs connection.

"They use all the classic components of bluegrass—sawing fiddles, jittery banjos, flinty guitars, and flickering mandolins," writes Farber. "But no hearing person would mistake the way the Punch Brothers play those instruments for the Appalachian pickings of Earl Scruggs or Ricky Skaggs."

Farber continues: "Instead, the structure and feel of their songs draws on elements as broad as modern jazz, avant-garde classical music and prog-rock. In the process, The Punch Brothers ... have not only turned a rural sound urban, they’ve achieved that most rare of musical feats—to create something genuinely new."

Read the complete article at nydailynews.com.

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Tonight's concert is today's Gig Alert from New York NPR member station WNYC. Punch Brothers were guests on yesterday's episode of WNYC's Soundcheck. The special edition of Soundcheck was held before a sold-out audience in the Greene Space in downtown Manhattan and broadcast live on WNYC. The band spoke with host John Schaefer and performed songs from Who's Feeling Young Now? —"Movement and Location," "Who's Feeling Young Now?," "Patchwork Girlfriend," and "Flippen." You can listen to the episode, featuring what the show calls the band's "rollicking string-band rock," here:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Punch Brothers have launched the second leg of their North American tour featuring music from their new album, Who's Feeling Young Now?, released earlier this year on Nonesuch Records. The band kicked things off in style with a live broadcast performance of A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor at New York’s Town Hall on Saturday, performing three songs of the new album—"New York City," "Patchwork Girlfriend," and "Flippen"—and teaming up with fellow guests Renée Fleming, Aoife O'Donovan, and Heather Masse for a number of songs. The show is now archived online at priariehome.org. The band then headed to Morgantown, West Virginia, to perform a show for future broadcast on NPR's Mountain Stage, along with Joan Osborne and Leftover Salmon. The tour set out from there with headlining shows at the Rex Theater in Pittsburgh on Monday and the Kentucky Theater in Lexington last night, both with Jesca Hoop opening, as she will through the end of the month.

"By now, the virtuosity and stylistic cunning of Punch Brothers have so radically redefined the possibilities of conventional string instrumentation that one almost forgets that bluegrass roots still sits at the heart of every sound the ensemble makes," says Lexington Herald Leader contributing music writer Walter Tunis in his review of last night's show, which "was easily the most exciting and inventive of its many Lexington area performances." In addition to some key cover tunes that have become an integral part of the band's repertoire—including Radiohead's "Kid A," which they perform on Who's Feeling Young Now? and The Cars' "Just What I Needed," which you can watch them take on here—they explored "original material that soared through all manner of progressive references, from rockish percussive riffs to fanciful swing-on-string runs that could best be described as psychedelic acoustic vaudeville."

The set closed with another much-loved cover: The Band's "Ophelia." Punch Brothers dedicated the tune to The Band's Levon Helm, who, his family has reported, is in "the final stages" of cancer.

Read Tunis's complete review of the concert in his blog The Musical Box. Read Tunis's article on the band in the Herald Leader, featuring an interview with Punch Brothers guitarist Chris Eldridge, at kentucky.com.

Punch Brothers' upcoming performances include stops in Knoxville, Nashville, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC, before a set at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The tour also makes a stop in Austin, where the band will tape an episode of Austin City Limits at Moody Theater on May 1 for future broadcast on PBS—raffle for free tickets will be announced on ACL's site shortly—and play a sold-out show at Antone's on May 2. The tour wraps up with a sold out LA Bluegrass Situation show at Largo in Los Angeles on May 4. Several summer festival dates follow. For details and ticket links, visit the tour page.
Friday, 9 March 2012
As was noted earlier this week, Punch Brothers are featured in a "Talk of the Town" piece in this week's New Yorker magazine. The band had spoken with New Yorker writer Alec Wilkinson as they prepared to take music from their new album,Who's Feeling Young Now?, out on the road on their current tour across North America. The New Yorker has now premiered a new video of the band performing the album's opening track, "Movement and Location," during their special invitation-only record-release show at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City on February 20. Watch the video below.

Salon's Seth Mnookin recently sat down for an interview with the whole band and, in an article titled "Punch Brothers: A Virtuosic Young Band Finds Its Voice," finds that "the Punch Brothers have achieved a kind of mind-meld that’s only possible when preternaturally talented musicians spend hours pushing themselves, and each other, to explore their passion and creativity."

Given the high standard the band achieved on its previous albums and the critical acclaim those received "makes what the band has achieved on Who’s Feeling Young Now? all the more remarkable," writes Mnookin. "The album opens with 'Movement and Location,' a propulsive masterpiece that sets the tone, both musically and thematically, for what’s to come."

Indeed, that tone follows throughout the album, on both the band's ten self-penned tunes and the take on two other tunes. "The shape-shifting time signatures, technical virtuosity and exquisite craftsmanship are all in full effect, but the overriding quality of the dozen songs on Who’s Feeling Young Now? is that they pack a visceral punch that’s not dependent on the listener’s musical knowledge or sophistication," Mnookin explains. "It’s hard to imagine another band doing an acoustic rendition of Radiohead’s hypnotic, effect-laden 'Kid A' without making it sound gimmicky; in the Punch Brothers’ hands, it’s somehow as powerful and transporting as the original."

There's much more from Mnookin and the band in the interview at salon.com.

The Christian Science Monitor's Scott Baldauf was at Punch Brothers' tour-opening concert outside of Boston and opens his article on a mandolin revival—how "the mandolin is breaking out of bluegrass and becoming hip and versatile"—from the show, with a look at how the band has excelled on that end. "The sound of their latest album, Who's Feeling Young Now?, is modern, insistent, and rhythmic, and the lyrics tell of the 20-something's life of attraction, pain, and love affairs put on hold," writes Baldauf. "Up front, band leader Chris Thile swivels like Elvis, ripping out solo after solo on his vintage Gibson mandolin." Read the article at csmonitor.com.

Watch Punch Brothers perform "Movement and Location" live from New York's Rockwood Music Hall, via The New Yorker, here:

Monday, 5 March 2012
Prior to heading out on tour, the band spent some time with The New Yorker’s Alec Wilkinson for a "Talk of the Town" piece published in this week’s magazine. Wilkinson visited the band in the Brooklyn rehearsal space where they got ready for the tour and where they signed the coasters illustrated by The New Yorker’s Matthew Diffee included with pre-orders of the new album. (The coasters are still available with pre-orders of the vinyl edition of the album, due out March 20, in the Nonesuch Store.) New Yorker subscribers can read the "Talk of the Town" piece online at newyorker.com.

This week's tour out West follows this past weekend's shows in the Midwest, including Friday night's at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. While in town, the band stopped by the studios of Minnesota Public Radio's The Current, to talk with Bill DeVille, host of The United States of Americana, and perform three songs off the new album: "Movement and Location," "Patchwork Girlfriend," and "Flippen."

"Bluegrass quintet the Punch Brothers have been playing together for six years," says DeVille, "but their intensely collaborative instrumental interplay and seasoned songwriting suggest a far longer period of growth."

Watch their performance of "Movement and Location" in The Current studios below:
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Punch Brothers' "hit streak continues on the new Who’s Feeling Young Now?, the group’s third album and strongest collection to date," raves PopMatters' Steve Leftridge. He concludes that "if you are interested in modern acoustic music at its most dynamic, passionate, progressive, and deftly played, Who’s Feeling Young Now? is an essential document and a mesmerizing step forward." Read the review at popmatters.com.
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Paste magazine gives Who's Feeling Young Now? a "phenomenal" 9 out of 10, with reviewer Ryan Reed explaining that on this, their "unquestionably finest" album yet, "the multi-talented quintet wisely continue doing what they do best: crafting off-kilter, classically-tinged pop songs that sound like absolutely no other band on the planet."

One could imagine that bringing five such virtuosic musicians together might pose a challenge to cohesion, but not so here. "Though every individual member clearly has the ability to rip into a tasty, long-winded solo at any given moment, Punch Brothers consistently choose the higher path," says Reed. "That these guys are so easily able to marry such progressive-minded touches into pop contexts is a feat worthy of reverence."

On Who's Feeling Young Now?, "every track is a small wonder of some sort," Reed concludes. "They may have just crafted a masterpiece of their own."

Read the complete review at pastemagazine.com.

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In a review of Who's Feeling Young Now? from The Wrap published by Reuters, Chris Willman calls it "terrific," finding that "the band continues to rock in a big way" on the new album, starting with “'Movement and Location,' a driving opener you'd swear was a cover of a long-lost Arcade Fire obscurity if the credits didn’t tell you better."

Rock though they do, Punch Brothers, of course, move beyond the confines of any genre. "Most of the time," Willman notes, "they’re arriving at a hybrid that’s altogether inexplicable, abandoning neither their bluegrass nor singer/songwriter origins, but embedding rootsy-pop hooks in roller-coaster arrangements so original and complicated that there’s nothing to do but scratch your scrambled head and buy a ticket to ride again."

After lauding the rare combination of songwriting skill and "master-class fingerpicking" as nothing short of a "godsend," Willman concludes: "The most remarkable thing about Who’s Feeling Young Now? is how this drumless combo seem to be using their vintage gear to create a fresh genre, not piece together borrowed retro idioms."

Read the complete review at reuters.com.

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“The acoustic framework dazzles," says Rolling Stone's Will Hermes, "wild virtuosity used for more than just virtuosity.” Read that review at rollingstone.com.
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