Mandolin god Chris Thile - former and current leader of Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers, respectively - is generally known for kicking bluegrass forward: Check out his down-home covers of Radiohead’s "Morning Bell" and Pavement's "Spit On A Stranger. " This ridiculously blazing set with hot-shit Brooklyn guitarist Michael Daves, recorded at Jack White's Third Man studio in Nashville (where they also cut a 7" single with White, "Man In The Middle/Blue Night"), focuses instead on old timey material by Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, and others. Dusty museum pieces they’re not: The uptempo jams are wild-picking shred fests, and the ballads cut deep.
Recorded over four days at Jack White's Third Man studios in Nashville, Sleep with One Eye Open may surprise some fans of Nickel Creek/Punch Brothers vocalist/mandolin phenom Chris Thile. While his technical acumen remains uncontested, the addition of blistering bluegrass singer/guitarist Michael Daves and notorious engineering luddite White into the mix has helped to temper Thile's signature refinements into something raw and primal. Daves, a staunch, Brooklyn-based, bluegrass traditionalist who plays as if the slightest distraction would send his guitar flying off into the night sky, brings out the same zeal in Thile, and when the two of them lockstep, as they do on stand-out cuts like “Loneliness and Desperation" and the fiery title track, it makes the listener believe that bluegrass is just as capable of being turned up to 11 as its cocky, younger, rock & roll brother.