Album Reviews

Punch Brothers – The Phosphorescent Blues

Artist:     Punch Brothers

Album:     The Phosphorescent Blues

Label:     Nonesuch

Release Date:     01/27/2015


It seems like the Punch Brothers are everywhere these days. One wonders if the group may finally be succeeding at bridging the divide between mainstream music and the kind of progressive string music that has been a little too challenging to ever reach a broad audience. But Chris Thile–the de facto leader of the Punch Brothers–wears his influences on his sleeve and, while the Punch Brothers are perhaps as musically sophisticated a group as is out there, they are also steeped in the popular music of their generation.

Their latest release, The Phosphorescent Blues, teams the quintet with legendary producer T Bone Burnett. Opening the album with the ten-plus minute “Familiarity” sets the pace for a listening experience that requires full attention. Indeed, none of the Punch Brothers recordings could really be confused as background music and their latest is no exception. The closest thing to what might be considered a single–though the very notion seems somewhat antithetical to this band’s mission statement–is undoubtedly “Magnet,” which they played on Conan in February.

It remains uncertain how long these talented musicians can keep this group together, as each of them are involved in a host of extremely promising other projects. One hopes that audiences will catch on sooner than later while there’s still a chance to catch them touring on the heels of yet another astonishing album.

– Eric Russ

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