Nickel Creek was one of those rare bands whose musical genius matched its mass appeal. The mix of country, folk and bluegrass went over like gangbusters with traditional country audiences, but the young trio's incorporation of rock and pop elements proved the members to be astute listeners as well as ace players. Singer and mandolinist Chris Thile has flourished since Nickel Creek's demise, releasing records under his own name and with his latest project, the Punch Brothers. Bluegrass' reliance on speed and lightning-quick picking is evident in the Punch Brothers' work — Thile's solos can rip you apart and stitch you back together in under a minute's time — but there is something grander at work in its songs. The acoustic quintet takes an almost classical approach to the arrangements of its songs, showing patience and restraint amid head-spinning passes on fiddle and banjo.
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