Umphrey’s McGee has been one of my favorite bands for quite some time now. The main reason is that they can play literally any style and easily fit it into what they do. When I say they “can,” this is more than just ability. Part of this is that their fan base (myself included) gives them the latitude to do whatever strikes them. This came to a head on their last album “Zonkey” which was a mash up covers album that was a lot of fun for sure.
“it’s not us” is their first album of all new material since 2014’s “Similar Skin.” I really enjoyed that album and while it didn’t surpass “Mantis” or “Anchor Drops” as one of my favorite UM albums, it was excellent nontheless. So what about this new album? “it’s not us” is about as ironically of a title as an album could have. This IS Umphrey’s McGee through and through. Basically this cover’s every style that the band do and on top of it the songs are some of the best the band have written.
The album has songs that SHOULD be on rock radio like “Half Delayed” and “Forks,” two of my favorite songs by UM ever. It also has some killer grooves like the lead track and single “The Silent Type.” Did you want prog? Both “Maybe Someday” and “Remind Me” more than cover that. “Remind Me” is an absolute JAWDROPPER of a track. The band go off on a prog metal tangent midway through that literally had me saying “WOW!” the first time I heard it!
Lead guitarist Jake Cinninger absolutely CUTS loose on “Remind Me.” He also steps to the mic for songs like the 80s Crimson-esque “Looks” and the dark epic closer “Dark Brush.” The entire band showcase their legendary playing ability but rather than do their extended jamming, the songs are definitely served over the band’s chops. Singer Brendan Bayliss sounds great on the remaining tracks especially the acoustic folky “You & You Alone,” a song that shows UM does not need prog pyrotechnics to be effective.
I shouldn’t be surprised at just how amazing “it’s not us” is and yet it’s just so GOOD, I can’t help it. Umphrey’s McGee have indeed outdone themselves and that’s quite a task! “it’s not us” is not only a masterpiece that fans of Umphrey’s McGee will love but by design it makes an excellent introduction for those who haven’t had the chance to check out Chicago’s finest. We are barely into 2018 and I already have a candidate for album of the year.
1. The Silent Type
3. Whistle Kids
4. Half Delayed
5. Maybe Someday
6. Remind Me
7. You & You Alone
9. Speak Up
11. Dark Brush