Umphrey’s McGee delivers again

Chandy Clemens

Umphrey’s McGee should be titled “Phish Revisited.” The two share such uncanny similarities you would think Phish’s disunion never took place: free-flowing, improvisational sets, a bonanza of devotees who lust over their live performances, and a jam-band buzzing with kinetic energy that really belonged in the 60s. Well, John Cinniger isn’t any Trey Anastasio, and for diversity’s sake, Umphrey’s does its own thing. But, for those who are still sour about the Phish split, turn to Umphrey’s and they’ll give you some comforting.

On their fifth studio album, “Mantis,” Umphrey’s is alive with the musical influences of their rock predecessors. “Cemetery Walk” starts out as though we’re settling down for some Tom Waits, but divulges into a Santana-esque piece ripe with meandering guitar solos and the adrenaline clash of the drums where Tommy Lee bowed out and Kris Myers took over.

“Turn and Run” hints at an America guest appearance, but lets the hopefuls down as the four vocalists harmonize over a spacey and unexpected musical arrangement vaguely reminiscent of Phish’s timeless “You Forget Myself.”

“Made to Measure” brings together an elaborate compilation of sounds that reflect some of the best by the Grateful Dead, The Beatles, and CSNY for those with an imagination.

“1348″ may lead you into thinking you’ve put on “Speak to Me” by Pink Floyd. Umphrey’s seemingly borrows the track’s industrial introduction to detract the listener, until the abrupt arrival of electric guitar and drums, abused by their owners to the highest regard, ignite the soundwaves.

The problems with being in a jam-band is the limitations of the compact disc. In order to appreciate the full scale of Umphrey’s explosive arrangements, along with every other jam-band, look up the next time they come into town. It is a religious experience.