On their sixth studio album, Death by Stereo, progressive jam band Umphrey’s McGee deliver an eclectic mix of solidly crafted songs. While they’re primarily known for their live improvisations, the band seem to take on an entirely different persona on their albums, tightening up their sound to show that not only are they talented musicians, but they also have some songwriting chops. The album kicks off with a pair of songs that feel like homages to some indie greats, opening with the Dismemberment Plan-inspired “Miami Virtue” before ripping into the Hold Steady-esque rocker “Domino Theory.” The album seems to find its legs with the smoothed-out soul of “Booth Love,” a casual jam that settles things down and sets the album on a mellower, more even course. From then on, the band begin to add a bit of fusion to the mix, allowing styles to merge more and giving the album and all-around funkier feel. If Death by Stereo makes one thing clear, it’s that Umphrey’s McGee are a talented band, able to drift effortlessly between styles in a way that seems, at times, to be a lost art among bands in the age of bedroom recording, and despite its slow start, Death by Stereo is an album that will have an easy time convincing fans to settle into its smooth grooves.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney