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Umphrey's McGee - Mantis CD (album) cover


Umphrey's McGee


Crossover Prog

3.68 | 79 ratings

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2 stars Objectively speaking, Umphrey's McGee has put out a good record for 2009 with very little to complain about in the production and care that went into Mantis. I do have major problems with it though, and I regret it because this is a very talented and hard-working band.

"Problems?", you ask, "My god man, what problems could you have with such good music?" For starters, if this is modern prog we're all in serious trouble, as I hear little progress on this 10 song release. Snarky perhaps, but I stand by it. As well, the material would fit quite well on a college radio format or even a hip FM rock station, and that can't be good, can it? I just don't know anymore, the album a predominantly melodious collection of tunes that only hints at more, flirting with the edges of prog rock but never quite getting there and desperately trying to force together the sentiment of contemporary Alternative with the old tricks of Art Rock. I get what they're trying to do, it's just a mix that has no real surprises or bite. 'Made to Measure' bounces about with post-Beatles shimmer, not a half-bad tune with good vocal harmonies I could see them doing on Saturday Night Live. The title cut starts promising but gives way to a sound not unlike Van Halen circa 1986, early Foreigner, or even the Dave Matthews Band. Oy, not something one needs to hear more than twice. Maybe this is where that pesky 'jam band' label comes into play; some cacophony does occur here and there, as well as improvisations in the vein of Phish, but this record jams like Al Gore sings and you just don't need to hear it. 'Turn & Run' continues the somewhat over-produced sound bearing little new fruit, whiney 'Spires' occasionally rocks, intolerably slow 'Prophecy Now' mostly annoys and is only barely revived by blues-rockers 'Red Tape' and '1348'.

If you expect your prog to be, oh, I don't know, challenging, exciting and eye-opening, keep a good five mile berth between yourself and this album. On the other hand if those things don't concern you, then have at it. I'm sure the artists would appreciate your patronage.

Atavachron | 2/5 |


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