PUNCH BROTHERS – ALL ASHORE (NONESUCH RECORDS, 2018)
Punch Brothers are the quintet of mandolinist Chris Thile, guitarist Chris Eldridge, bassist Paul Kowert, banjoist Noam Pikelny and violinist Gabe Witcher. Says the Washington Post, “With enthusiasm and experimentation, Punch Brothers take bluegrass to its next evolutionary stage, drawing equal inspiration from the brain and the heart.” Their upcoming album, All Ashore, is out July 20 on Nonesuch Records. All Ashore follows Punch Brothers’ critically acclaimed T Bone Burnett–produced 2015 release, The Phosphorescent Blues, of which NPR said, “Punch Brothers sing of distraction and isolation in the digital age…the sound is all their own.” For All Ashore, the quintet again attempt to make sense of the world around them.
As Thile says, the album is “a meditation on committed relationships in the present day, particularly in the present climate.” He continues, “We were hoping to create something that would be convincing as a complete thought, in this case as a nine-movement, or nine-piece, thought. Though it’s rangy in what it’s talking about, and in the characters who are doing the talking…”
Punch Brothers returned to the same room at United Recording Studios in Hollywood (formerly Ocean Way) where they had recorded both The Phosphorescent Blues and their 2010 Jon Brion–produced Antifogmatic. Thile says they felt they had “established a rapport” with the space; the same “level of trust and love that breeds confidence” also led them to produce the album themselves, for the first time.
“After four previous experiences we felt like we knew what we wanted. Going in we knew what we needed it to sound like and I think we had a specific enough vision to make the reality match up with that— as opposed to having someone navigate us toward something,” Thile explains. “Also, T Bone last time around, with engineer Mike Piersante, led us to a sonic place where we knew we wanted to be again.”
Punch Brothers formed in 2006. Its first Nonesuch record, Punch, was released in 2008 and combined elements of the band’s many musical interests. In 2009, they began a residency at NYC’s intimate club, The Living Room, trying out new songs and ultimately spawning Antifogmatic (2010). In 2012, the band released Who’s Feeling Young Now?, which Q praised for its ‘astonishing, envelope-pushing vision’, while Rolling Stone said, ‘The acoustic framework dazzles – wild virtuosity used for more than just virtuosity.’
Recently, Chris Thile took over hosting duties of Live from Here (formerly A Prairie Home Companion) in 2016 and released Thanks for Listening in late 2017 – a collection of songs written for Chris’ popular radio show. Chris Eldridge partnered with Julian Lage for the Mount Royal and Noam released his fourth solo album, the Universal Favorite. Both Mount Royal and Universal Favorite earned Grammy nominations and were produced by Gabe Witcher, who was also behind Sara Watkins’ latest, Young In All The Wrong Ways. Paul Kowert has been recording and touring with the Dave Rawlings Machine and recently released Unless, the debut album from Hawktail, Paul’s band with Jordan Tice, Brittany Haas and Dominick Leslie.
NMR (More at: www.punchbrothers.com)