Thursday, January 29, 2009

Umphrey's McGee - Mantis

Utilizing a new method of musical distribution in this day and age is almost as important as the music itself. Although Mantis was not given away via the Internet, a fair share unreleased live tracks sure were. Using "push" technology, Umphrey's stressed to its fans that more and material would be unlocked on the album as more and more pre-orders were made. That being said, the music on the album is also worth mentioning. Mantis is beyond strong. In fact, its damn near perfect. The first thing worth mentioning about the album is the heavy usage of stringed instruments. As if Umphrey's tunes weren't epic enough, the strings create an almost cinematic feel to the brand new tracks. "Cemetery Walk" is characterized by Brendan Bayliss' punchy lyrical phrasing and is accentuated by Cinniger's underlying, harmonizing guitar lines. "Cemetery Walk II" which builds off its rock and roll brother's piano work is certainly a new direction for the band. This track is pure techno fun. Its drum track is heavily danceable, proving that Umphrey's can easily upstage a genre ruled by tools on their MacBooks. Big surprise there. "Turn & Run" could easily be the highlight of the album. The crisp acoustic guitar intro is quickly followed by the classic prog-rock tone that has made Umphrey's so recognizable. What makes this song so special is Cinninger's epic guitar solo which closes out the last 2 minutes of the track. To be blunt, he rips the shit out of it like only a true guitar god can. Mantis' opening track "Made to Measure" is definitely the radio hit of the album. The comparison has been made in every review on the interweb, but it sounds like a lost Beatles b-side in the best way possible. Mantis is a fantastic release that is sure to please hardcore fans who will rage Umph until the end. "Made To Measure" alone will create new fans who are in for some serious musical enlightenment upon listening to the whole album. How will these songs transfer over live? Only time will tell, but knowing Umphrey's McGee, were sure to find out much sooner than later.

Check out the live debut of Made To Measure (not the best quality, but buy the cd if you want pristine!)

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