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Before their sold out show at the Somerville Theatre tonight, the Punch Brothers stopped by WERS for a short interview and live mix of some of their new songs. They are currently promoting their new album, Who’s Feeling Young Now. The five piece string band members are Chris Thile on mandolin and lead vocals, Noam Pikelny on the banjo, Chris Eldridge on guitar, Gabe Witcher playing the fiddle, and Paul Kowert on bass.
The band is most commonly labeled as a bluegrass group. But their style is a very intricate and a fascinating mix of not only bluegrass but county, classical, and even a little bit of rock. “We look like bluegrass,” says Chris Thile, “Its fine is people call us bluegrass.” He comments on how to them, their genre is not very important. The witty musician goes on to explain, “Its your duty as someone who loves music to know everything that is going on. Its like the scientific name for…an iguana. I mean, does it really care?”
For this album, the group had the assistance from lyricist Josh Ritter. The band usually writes their songs based on personal experience in an effort to allow the audience to connect their own stories with theirs. “Josh is a master of that. He is good at telling specific stories. To see his process was really enjoyable.”
The Punch Brothers certainly did the lyrics justice, theirs and Ritter’s. Their first song, “Movement and Location” did not require any built up to get an exciting verse. From the very start to the very finish, the arrangement was captivating. Every instrument has a distinguished sound and exciting tempo that contributed to the overall harmony, and complimented the soft slower lyrics perfectly. The use of harmony and arrangement carries on through their next song, “Patchwork Girlfriend.” It has an almost foreign and eclectic sound, and wonderful bittersweet lyrics. Their closing song, “This Girl” had the most happy and breezy feeling of the three, but just as catchy and fun as the previous two. Each song was extremely unique and diverse in its style, making them one of the most interesting groups to sit in on.
The members had commented that when compared to their last album, Antifogmatic, they were much more comfortable making Who’s Feeling Young Now. Yet their new one is much more complex. Noam Pikelny explains, “As a band that has been together for 5 years, we were becoming more comfortable with the writing and arranging more organically as we were all right there.”
The Punch Brothers are a wonderfully diverse band, incorporating different genres and multiple unique instruments to create a compelling sound and clever lyrics. It is hard not to get one of their new songs stuck in your head, but it will definitely put you in a happy mood. While their genre may be mixed, their main goal of connecting to their audience through their music is certainly achieved.
The band is currently taking their fascinating diverse music on tour around the United States until August. Their new album is now available, and ready to give you the perfect pick-me-up to your day.
By Maria Franz