"For the last few months, I've been getting regular e-mails from The John Punch Band about their soon-to-be-released debut EP, Fences Have Been Planted, Thorns Have Been Built. Questions about cover art preferences, thoughts on the quality of certain songs, info about the recording process -- frontman Cory Thibodeau has done his best to keep me in the loop, even though I'm fairly certain that I consistently failed to give him any kind of worthwhile feedback.
Now that the EP is out and I've had the opportunity to get a measure of the thing in its entirety...I'm even more baffled as to why he thought he needed my opinion. Simply put, it's an excellent debut. Thibodeau and his bandmates have put together five extremely well-crafted folk tunes that, as others have noted, are sure to garner the band significant attention from the usual suspects...but also from beyond those communities, if there's any justice. The band is extremely tight-sounding, while the presence of an upright bass gives songs like "One Design of Teeth" and "Tippin' Boats" the hint of a jazzy swing.
About the only thing wrong with Fences Have Been Planted... is the relative lack of political content. Given their name (borrowed from the first black slave in North America) and my own knowledge of Thibodeau's political leanings, I was expecting The John Punch Band to be a little more outspoken in their views, but outside of "Stars and Stripes", this is a fairly apolitical album.
That's not even a flaw, really -- after all, music that tries to put its politics first tends to not be that enjoyable. And if there's one thing that Fences Have Been Planted, Thorns Have Been Built most certainly is, it's an extremely enjoyable listen."