The Punch Brothers – Antifogmatic


Punch Brothers – This Is The Song


Chris Thile and The Punch Brothers are back with a new album entitled Antifogmatic. This ripping display of instrumental prowess, slick vocal work, and ensemble performance is as finely tuned as a Swiss watch.

The band is comprised of: Chris Thile Mandolin & Lead Vocals

Gabe Witcher Fiddle & Vocals

Noam Pikelny Banjo & Vocals

Paul Kowert Bass & Vocals

Chris Eldridge Guitar & Vocals

The deluxe version of this album contains 10 studio cuts, 4 bonus tracks, and a live set of 7 additional originals and arrangements.

The album opens with the song You Are in which the listener is immediately graced with the ensembles refined instrumental tone and Chris Thile's self-assured vocal work. This track opens up the arch of the album nicely as the chorus has an infectious hook and the musicians perform with actual musical shape and direction. As a generalization, this musicality is what sets The Punch Brothers apart from so many of their mainstream peers.

Subsequently, the track Don't Need No demonstrates the ensembles musicality as they crescendo into the first verse with an opening instrumental section that then settles into a strong back beat and callous barroom lyrics.

The lyrical content across this album is generally clever and largely concerns itself with women and whiskey; Those Who Dig approves.

The stand out song on the album for me is the third track, Alex. Chris Thile has a simple and catchy mandolin riff that peppers the lyrical plea to this song's seductress.: "Alex, Short and Sweet leave your boyfriend at home and the drinks are on me next week". 

This uncomplicated and pop accessible verse instrumentation is amplified by the bombast of the chorus and the banjo's impressive tremolo. Incidentally, the banjo work of Noam Pikelny is an under appreciated component of this ensemble as he often works outside the limelight, but ties the group together with his fluid instrumental virtuosity.

The Punch Brothers work as arranger's of music is a stand out facet of this record as well. Within the deluxe addition the listener is treated to a performance of Radiohead's Packt Like Sardines In a Crush'd Tin Box in which the musicians refuse to be intimidated by abstract sounds or confined to normative instrumental technique. It's a truly wonderful and imaginative performance.

Finally, within the video section of the deluxe addition, Rob Moose (violin/arranger) joins the band for a performance of J.S. Bach's Brandenberg Concerto No. 3. While they only perform the third movement of this work, it is a sensational display of trained musicians working outside the trappings of genre, normative concert platforms, and audience expectation with great success.

Those Who Dig are big fans of The Punch Brothers. I recommend this album and the musicians entire oeuvre with my highest regards. Genre preferences are made a mute point when the musicians are this talented and creative. As the great Duke Ellington said, "There are only two kinds of music. Good and Bad." This is some of the good kind so go out and get it.

For more TWD conversation regarding Chris Thile click here. To purchase Antifogmatic click here. For an addition review of this album from Pop Matters click here.