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The Slobbering Rave: Beware The Punch Brothers

August 10, 2010  |  6:00am
The Slobbering Rave: Beware The Punch Brothers

The Punch Brothers are aliens, and they’re here to take over our world. Let’s look at the evidence: For starters, their music is an impossibly perfect mixture of down-home charm and staggering sophistication. This can only be the result of complex algorithms running on an interplanetary mainframe.

Take the song “Rye Whiskey” off the new album Antifogmatic: It’s simply awesome—fun and uplifting, even witty—but it’s actually a mind-control weapon. Listen for too long and you will suddenly find yourself rallying your friends to attend Punch Brothers concerts, only to slurp down their alien message of world domination like a delicious musical smoothie of earthling subjugation.

Mere human beings could never achieve the Punch Brothers’ musicianship and technical proficiency. Frontman Chris Thile’s mandolin playing defies the laws of physics. It is my belief that he has an additional six fingers on his left hand which are invisible. He also embodies the statistically impossible combination of mandolin virtuosity, charm and frosted tips. Banjo player Noam Pikelny demonstrates a level of skill that directly contradicts the societal value of his instrument: The aliens made a cultural miscalculation, since no human would ever want to be that good at banjo. It also doesn’t take long to realize guitarist Chris Eldridge was cultivated in a petri dish by fusing the DNA of Tony Rice and Clarence White (and, sadly, the fashion sense of Björk). Gabe Witcher plays his fiddle so fast that he needs a synthetic beard to insulate his tender alien skin from the heat. And Paul Kowert thumps what looks like a bass but is actually a low frequency transmitter sending coded signals to the mothership. That explains his totally unique bass lines and perfect timing.

The Punch Brothers can be summed up in one word: spooky. Unfortunately this alien band is amazing, and you will no doubt love their music as I do. God help us all.

Ed Helms plays paper salesman Andy Bernard on The Office and is a former correspondent on The Daily Show.

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