Who's Feeling Young Now? (Vinyl – 2LP)
Punch Brothers third Nonesuch disc, Who's Feeling Young Now?, recorded in Nashville and produced and engineered by Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter), contains some of the most exhilaratingly direct, sonically daring performances the group has ever recorded. As the five members have matured together on the road and in the studio, their approach to writing and performing has, conversely, become looser, simpler, and, as the album title suggests, more unaffectedly youthful. At this point, virtuosity is a given among these already prodigious players; the operative word for Who's Feeling Young Now? is camaraderie.
The Village Voice has called Punch Brothers, who formed in 2006 at the behest of mandolin virtuoso and former Nickel Creek singer Chris Thile, "one of the greatest young bands in the country, bluegrass or otherwise." Similarly, the New York Times in reviewing the band's 2010 release Antifogmatic declared, "Their music is as radical as progressive bluegrass (or newgrass, or new acoustic music) can be." And on Who's Feeling Young Now? Punch Brothers are clearly having quick-witted fun. The title song—featuring Paul Kowert's rumbling bass, Gabe Witcher's skittering violin and Thile's wailing multi-tracked vocals—is almost like hard-charging string-band punk rock. Brilliant opening cut "Movement and Location," on the other hand, is practically Steve Reich-ian, thanks to Chris Eldridge's rhythmically pulsing guitar, Kowert's bass and Noam Pikelny's banjo lines, yet it also boasts a decidedly spontaneous spirit. In fact, it came together over a matter of minutes in Thile's New York City living room, where the band has done some of its most inspired jamming.