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Safety In Numbers

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Album Review

When "jam bands" began to infiltrate the music scene in the '90s, it seemed like fans were content to hear bands jamming away for hours on end — à la a Grateful Dead show. But later in the decade, these Dead offspring began to branch out into other musical styles — even going so far as to streamline their compositions to start resembling actual songs. A good example of this is the third studio album overall by Umphrey's McGee, Safety in Numbers. With more than half of the album's compositions not exceeding the five-minute mark (something that was virtually unheard of "back in the good old days" of jam bands), Safety in Numbers covers an impressive amount of musical ground. And you've got to love a band that invites Huey Lewis to lend his harmonica skills to the tracks "End of the Road" and "Women, Wine and Song" (the latter of which sees Lewis lend a hand in the vocal department, as well). Additional standouts abound — including the speedy album opener "Believe the Lie" and the tough riff rocker "Nemo." There is a new dawn for jam bands in the early 21st century, and Umphrey's McGee is definitely helping to usher it in.

Customer Reviews

A change... for the better?

With the release of Saftey in Numbers we see the fourth studio effort from the midwest's Umphrey's McGee. Their last studio release, Anchor Drops, spring boarded the band into a extremely rapidly growing popularity, enabling them to sell out a weekend at the Aragon Theater in Chicago this past New Years (roughly 9000 tickets sold). SIN see's a change in UM's direction. With what's being described as a "snapshot in time", SIN takes on a more somber, darker tone, with songs like "Rocker", "Ocean Billy", and "Words" leaving the listener with a somewhat melancholy feeling. But the older days of UM's "goofier" side are still rampant in this album. Tracks like "Believe the Lie", "Nemo", and "Women, Wine, and Song" all have a much more upbeat and fun tone to them. Interestingly enough, those former three songs were written and perfomed many times live before they headed into the studio to record this album. I give this album four stars out of five. As a pseudo-veteran of UM, I would have liked to have heard other songs converted from live perfomances to stuiod material, but not all of their work is "album/radio friendly" with some songs ("Der Bluten Kat") often clocking in at close to haf an hour. The production quality of this album is phenominal, as I had thought Anchor Drops was a little over produced. Sample this album, you won't be disappointed.

Beyond a jamband

This album really shows how umphrey's has moved past the "jamband" genre and they are something completly their own. This album can be compared to phish's "rift" and grateful deads "terrapin station" It is really reaching out for something different and i believe that Umphreys is opening great new doors with this cd "saftey in numbers."

I missed the boat on what you said, so say it all again...

It is so great to hear how far they've come... the fact that UM can still bring it in the studio and have the greatest live show around is a true testament to their born talent. The greatness in depth that we get from Safety In Numbers is something innately real and inspiring. The fluctuation between the devastating beauty and energy of these tracks is just ridiculous. I think this album meets expectations and allows us to enjoy Umphrey's even more than we already do... keep it up, and never stop delivering the heart, the freshness, and the ingenuity we all adore you for.


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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