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Anchor Drops

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Album Review

With the release of Anchor Drops, Umphrey's McGee has made only two studio albums to go with its four live albums, an appropriate balance for a band more comfortable jamming on-stage than writing songs and trying to come up with definitive performances of them in the studio. Necessarily, a studio collection focuses more on the songs as compositions consisting of lyrics (usually) and melodies, rather than on flashy playing before paying customers. Boasting 14 tracks, only a couple of which run over five minutes, Anchor Drops demonstrates that Umphrey's McGee remains a collection of riffmeisters who haven't quite figured out how to make music that is as involving as it is admirable. The players remain formidable instrumentalists who like to construct tracks from interesting bits they've stumbled upon while jamming, instead of actually composing within a structure; the songs tend to consist of sections of involved playing and furious rhythms that stop and start and change on a dime. Most of them have lyrics wanly sung by lyricist and guitarist Brendan Bayliss, but few of those words convey much meaning beyond occasional attempts at self-deprecating humor. Having gotten them out of the way, the band quickly roars on to another blistering climax that sounds borrowed from a late Frank Zappa record. The only exceptions are a couple of acoustic excursions, "Bullhead City," which finds Bayliss' wife, Elliott Peck, harmonizing with lead guitarist Jake Cinninger, and the closing instrumental, "The Pequod," a delicate fingerpicking exercise by Cinninger. No doubt the rest of the selections will come off better at Umphrey's McGee's concerts, where the sheer technique required to play such complicated pieces will win well-earned applause.

Customer Reviews

A Legend in the Making

Umphrey's Mcgee is sure to please anyone who likes music. They jam like no other, but also know how to rock with power and and energy and lay down a funky groove that would make Leo Nocentelli (of the Meters) proud. They also put on a fantastic live show. They all have incredible technical and compositional skill. Individually they are some of the best players of each of their instruments around today and together they make one of the best bands around. Buy this album and get educated.

Like Nothing You've Ever Heard

This album is absolutely unforgettable and completely original. Umphrey's spits fire here almost as much as they do live, where they completely tear the roof off. The melodies are powerful, the musicianship tight and INCREDIBLE, and the energy flows like a river of hot creamy butter. Classic!

Umphrey's = Great Band

I recently saw Umphrey's at the Nokia Theater in NYC. Great music, great musicianship, and great energy make for one of the better shows I've ever seen. My only complaint is too many dirty potheads, but I can't blame the band for that. It's unfortunate that Umphrey's gets labeled as just another jamband because they are much more than that. I like to think of them as largely prog-rock and a lot of improv. Anchor Drops is their best album to date and as much as I love Plunger, Tinkles and Wife Soup, the best way to experience Umphrey's is live.


Formed: 1997 in South Bend, IN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A jam band coming out of the Midwest in the mid-'90s, Umphrey's McGee edged toward the Frank Zappa side of the improv rock scale, as opposed to the Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers Band direction of their many contemporaries. The members of Umphrey's McGee met at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. The original four bandmembers (keyboardist Joel Cummins, guitarist Brendan Bayliss, bassist Ryan Stasik, and drummer Mike Mirro) had been playing in various campus bands when they got together...
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