Describing themselves as a ‘genre-defying sextet’, Umphrey’s McGee are nevertheless well known as part of the same so-called ‘jam band’ scene that spawned Gov’t Mule, Phish and the excruciating Widespread Panic.
Umphrey’s cite Crimson, Floyd, Zappa, The Police, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, U2 and the Beatles as influences, and theirs is a pretty slick, mainstream-orientated sound. Given that Similar Skin marks the debut for their own imprint (it’s their seventh studio album overall), it makes good business sense that the Indiana band have purposely sought what the biography terms “addictive melodies and memorable choruses”. Among the more satisfying moments here are the cowbell-propelled raunch-lite of Little Gift; Cut The Cable offers echoes of mid-era Rush, and Hourglass has smoothness redolent of a Wishbone Ash B-side from the 1980s. The cod reggae-meets-FM radio of The Linear is inexcusable though and there’s an over-arching drabness of the material. The band’s live show is apparently accompanied by a “stellar light show”. Frankly, it would have to dwarf the Close Encounters finale to make us endure this for a second time. DML