Umphrey's McGee is a six-piece band from the USA. They've been together for more than sixteen years. The members of the band currently are Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals), Jake Cinniger (guitar, vocals), Joel Cummins (keyboards, piano, vocals), Andy Farag (percussion), Kris Myers (drums, vocals) and Ryan Stasik (bass). They already released seven studio albums and Similar Skin is their eighth release.
The Linear, first of the eleven songs on the album, starts powerful like a very early Police song. Ska and reggae rhythms combined with heavy guitar licks. More modern and radio friendly is the second one, Cut The Cable. A simple but very effective rock song. The rock sound of the eighties is back in the tightly played Hourglass. No Diablo is totally different; influences of The Beatles and other English bands of the mid-sixties are audible, and nice vocals of all the band members are included. One the most interesting songs is Similar Skin, and especially the Rush-like guitar echoes (Hold Your Fire (1987) period) make it stand out. After the quiet opening you'll be surprised by the brilliant bass parts by Ryan in the ballad Puppet String. I guess The Red Hot Chili Peppers' bass man, Flea would be jealous. More mediocre is the rock song Little Gift. Lots of variations of modern progressive rock can be heard in the jumpy song Educated Guess. Best song of the album for me is Loose Ends. This stadium power rock ballad sounds mysterious and provocative at the same time. You can shout the chorus after one listen. Unfortunately, I am not excited about the track Hindsight. The voices and guitars in it sound very forced. The last and longest song Bridgeless, is a worthy end to this album. Every band member shows their skills on their individual instruments, over than eight minutes long.
After the release of Mantiss (2009) and Death By Stereo (2011) Similar Skin by Umphrey's McGee is a worthy successor.
***+ Cor Smeets (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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