Friday, April 27, 2012

Punch Brothers

My piece on the Punch Brothers is in this week's Charleston City Paper.

The Punch Brothers' Noam Pikelny discusses Earl Scruggs 

- The Punch Brothers are a dapper bunch (L to R): Noam Pikelny, Gabe Witcher, Paul Kowert, Chris Thile, and Chris Eldridge - provided

Remembering Scruggs and more

Progressive bluegrass or alt-folk? Indie rock or barn-door classical? For years, people have been attempting to properly classify the Punch Brothers. In part, it's a composition issue: In addition to the usual guitar and bass, the Punch Brothers' instrumentation also features a mandolin, a banjo, and a fiddle. They also make foot-stomping, complex music informed by everything from mountain songs to avant-garde instrumentals.

The band's newest album, Who's Feeling Young Now?, could find a home wedged between Bon Iver and the Decemberists. Arguably, guitarist Chris Eldridge, bassist Paul Kowert, mandolinist Chris Thile, banjo player Noam Pikelny, and fiddler Gabe Witcher deliver straight up indie rock, and they've further expanded their audience, thanks to a starring spot on the Hunger Games soundtrack. Despite all that's going on for the band right now, Pikelny has other things on his mind — chiefly, the recent death of banjo legend Earl Scruggs and his Nashville funeral.

Mayer Hawthorne

My piece on Mayer Hawthorne ran in the Charleston City Paper Apr. 18.

Mayer Hawthorne steps away from the turntables and grabs the mic 

Mayer Hawthorne, 2012 - provided

Sexy soul fun

It's no surprise that Mayer Hawthorne has built a name for himself as the latest heir apparent in the great Motown revival. After all, he grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich., just a few well choreographed steps from Detroit. His acclaimed debut indie album, 2009's A Strange Arrangement, won him plenty of admirers thanks to his gift for complex arrangements and a keen marrying of sexy retro-soul with contemporary urban flavor. After that, his shows began selling out and the major labels came calling.

Now, Hawthorne's back on the road supporting his recent follow-up, How Do You Do, which also marks his major label debut on Universal Republic. He admits he had plenty of reservations about taking that next step.


My piece on Candlebox ran in the Charleston City Paper April 15!

The return of Madonna's grunge-era chart-toppers, Candlebox 

Candlebox, 2012 - provided

More musings from Kevin Martin and co.

Seattle was a crowded place for emerging bands in the early '90s. Choked with flannel and attitude, the city became synonymous with grunge music by the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden.

And then there's Candlebox. Who? You know, that song "Far Behind?" Oh, them. Exactly.
Lead singer/songwriter Kevin Martin is well aware that at this point his band is little more than a footnote. But there's satisfaction to be had. After all, two decades later, Candlebox is back with a brand new album, Love Stories and Other Musings. It's a day few people thought they'd ever see — including Martin.