Group portrait of bluegrass band Punch Brothers.

Courtesy of Punch Brothers

Punch Bros album is genre-bending, eclectic

The band will perform on the Missouri Lotto Stage, 5 p.m. Sunday.

By Jeannine Anderson | Sept. 23, 2015

Tags: Music Roots N Blue N BBQ


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“Phosphorescent Blues” is the latest album by Punch Brothers, released in January of this year. Every track on this album is a genre-bending inspiration to any eclectic musician or listener, with inspiration from folk, bluegrass, classical, hymnal, funk, disco and pop ebbing and flowing throughout.

The opening song, “Familiarity,” sets the tone for this well-produced album. Mandolin player Chris Thile opens up with pretty arpeggios while the rest of the band punctuates the lyrics of this overture. If you listen closely, you can hear the drum track, a new addition for this string quintet, subtly providing some extra punch. The song beautifully embraces love, faithfulness and longevity in the face of oversaturation and the tendency to take things for granted, a theme they touched on in “Antifogmatic.”

Next, my personal favorite song, “Julep,” is about finding happiness in every Southerner’s favorite drink, not to be drank alone. The banjo’s delicate picking sounds like a train of thought floating away.

“Magnet” is a sexy song about, well, sexual tension between two magnets, attracted on one side, but repelling on the other. What happens when two centers of attention try to be the center of each other’s attention?

“My Oh My” is a cheery sounding song about the addictiveness of smart phones. At once, the lyrics lament and praise this addiction, saying, “Whatever keeps us singing.” There is more than a trace of irony in the final lyric: “How long O Lord can you keep the whole world spinning under our thumbs?” The thumbs of smartphone users, thumbs of musicians, the thumbs of humanity controlling the Earth.

No Punch Brother’s album would be complete without a cover or two. This time they covered “Passepied” by Claude Debussy, an impressionist era composer, and as usual, I am impressed by their adaptation skills.

“Between 1st and A” begins acapella, then leads into a sweeping instrumental and lyrical narrative. The breakdown pays homage to Michael Jackson. Then the finale, “Little Lights,” is punctuated by yet another wonderful fiddle solo by Gabe Witcher.

This album is available for sale online and can be heard for free on YouTube. Catch Punch Brothers at 5 p.m. Sunday on the Missouri Lottery Stage during Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival.

MOVE ranks 4 out of 5 stars.

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