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Umphrey's McGee - Zonkey CD (album) cover


Umphrey's McGee

Crossover Prog

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3 stars Mashup albums are not exactly commonplace in the music world, especially those produced by a single group. Most bands are fixated on producing their own material before parroting others'. Umphrey's McGee, South-Bend's golden boys, have created for themselves a (mostly) positive reputation with their nine current studio releases, and have gained quite a bit of traction in the both prog and jam scene. So they thought, why not: let's release a mashup album. Seems like a pretty good idea to me; the band has shown themselves to be skilled, charismatic and genuinely intelligent on more than one occasion. I was pretty excited when first hearing about it. So excited in fact that I forgot that it even came out until half a month later. So now, finally, we get to see the finished product.

Zonkey's it's name, and it's pretty alright. I've always liked mashups, even if they feature songs that I don't necessarily like but hold name-recognition value to me. This focuses (mostly) more on the rock side of music monoliths, which is much more my forte. Bands that are mashed include but are not limited to: Metallica, Gorillaz, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, you name it. To cover such a wide range of genres, each member of the band contributes vocally depending on what style it is. A notable example of this is drummer Kris Myers absolutely nailing the Hetfield -like, eerily so. Some of the mashups are undeniably better than others. I'm not a huge fan of the Eurythmics / MGMT / Corey Hart 'Sweet Sunglasses', mainly due to personal music preference. Also, a name like that isn't bound to register much out of me (I mean come on- "Sweet Sunglasses"?). However the opener 'National Loser Anthem' is fantastic. Stylistically it was a great idea to start the album out with the eeriness of Radiohead, albeit with a drop of Beck in there. The best part in my opinion of the song is the second half, where 'In The Air Tonight' comes into play with the iconic Roland CR-78 drum beat. 'Frankie Zombie', with perhaps the most odd combination (White Zombie, Pink Floyd and Frankie Goes to Hollywood) is rather good as well. If we're looking for progressiveness, or at least Umphrey's type, then 'Life During Exodus' nearly fits the bill. The reggae of Bob Marley mixes surprisingly well with Frank Zappa's experimentation and the quasi-jazz rock of Chicago.

I would explain more but I believe, in the certain circumstance, that such an explanation would be a disservice to the reader. With such a wide range of genres and talents being covered, the album encapsulates stupidity, quirkiness, skill, all in one package. Is it essential? No, I don't believe so. But I'll be damned if Umphrey's didn't pull it off in a great way.

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Posted Thursday, December 15, 2016 | Review Permalink

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