Who's Feeling Young Now?

LIVE MUSIC: Punch Brothers @ The 9:30 Club - 4/27/12

Taking the stage with a grin so ebullient it managed to infect the room with its cheer and enthusiasm, bandleader/ mandolin phenom Chris Thile announced “I have been waiting SO long to do this!” It was certainly a long time coming, but Friday night, the Punch Brothers finally, FINALLY, delivered a headlining performance proper in the nations Capital. Since forming in 2006, the group has skated along the outskirts of what most would consider mainstream music, and thus mainstream venues. They’ve built their following slowly, playing to the more traditional bluegrass crowds and festivals along the way, yet they’ve never compromised the underlying evil genius mastery of their instruments that provides the bedrock of their music.

Who's feeling young NOW - Punch Brothers tearing it up at the 9:30 ClubWith a sound that has often been described as “prog-grass”, listening to a Punch Brothers record can be a cognitive workout that simultaneously leaves the listener both satisfied and exhausted – and that’s sort of the point. This is a band that’s all about balancing acts, and this years Who’s Feeling Young Now was a delirious example of the bands willingness to balance the intellectual with the populist, and in the process subvert the listener’s expectation of what a “pop” song can, and should, be.  That delicate balance was on full display Friday night at the 9:30 Club as the band delivered a set that touched on just about every point of the bands career as well as a few other bands careers just to show that they could.

REVIEW: Punch Brothers - Who's Feeling Young Now?

The most frustrating thing about the Punch Brother’s new album Who’s Feeling Young Now? is how immeasurably close they came to creating a work that could stand easily alongside the records that it is drawing inspiration from. And maybe “frustrating” is too strong a word, because by all accounts Young is a record that’s full of the typical sonic wonder and musical mastery you’ve come to expect from this band. But about halfway through the record it becomes awkwardly clear that somewhere along the journey of making this record, Chris Thile and friends took a trip down ADD Lane and there was nobody to help them find their way back, making Young an undeniably fantastic record, just one that feels like it was made by 3 slightly different bands.

Press Play: Punch Brothers - "Movement and Location"

Sounds Like: A lightning bolt of awesome going through your brain; psychopopabillygras; Punch Brothers
Why you should care: Punch Brothers are one of the most exciting bands performing anywhere. True.Story.

Originally a sort of post Nickel Creek side project for mandolinist extraordinaire Chris Thile, Punch Brothers, it turns out, has developed into one of the most exciting American bands in recent memory.

In 2010 the band released Antifogmatic to widespread critical acclaim. Blending the familiar sounds and song conventions of bluegrass with some whole-heartedly pyschotic pop sensibilities that would make Frank Zappa proud, Thile and his band of lunatics created a challenging yet compelling work of art that sounds unlike just about anything that came before it. In fact the only way you can accurately describe a Punch Brothers record is to say that it sounds like Punch Brothers and leave it at that.