Chutes und Ladders, Raft-Rapped Families, Bubbles auf der Barrel


Word on the nerdvine is that Umphrey’s McGee just might be the next Phish. But instead of phat patchouli and ghee glee, McGee have got Anchor Drops of whiteout, bleak words, and voices, surrounded by multicolored bubbles of accompaniment. Despite Jake Cinninger’s brainy, heady mix of plucked and picked notes, early results remind me of my old (8 a.m.) art appreciation class. Until “Uncommon,” which announces, “Something about me stinks.” Confession is good for the soul; ditto the subsequent carbonated SUVision of tracks 10 through (unlisted) 14. With “Uncommon,” an enjoyable half-hour.

Kammerflimmer Kollektief’s reissued Hysteria contains (bonus miles of) gazegrazing analogtronica and cracked chamber jazz. Despite the title, they’re a raft-happy family, in which bosoms of bubbles gently rock insomniac, seemingly marginal honkers and tweeters. Pretty much the reverse effect of those disappointing Anchor Drops tracks (the kinda pictures my dad used to buy just for their frames).

Still, McGee and Kammerflimmer both need the no-fiddling-about Gypsy boot camp of Shukar’s Bear Tamers Music. Shukar march mouths and spoons and “wooden barrel’s percussion” and also “primitive percussions” around, teaching us to scatgrowl “Tamango’s Jazz,” though not tamely. BTM‘s a fresh breath of hairy bubble thunder.

But Shukar’s no-budget bubble-cise is a little too crystal ball for me, so I gotta go visit Ladies W.C.’s Ladies W.C. Once an obscenely priced vinyl rarity, it’s now a mid-priced CD, and still vintage (’69) Venezuelan psychedelia, sporting convincing enough Californiac lyrics and vocals, times a timeless, homegrown exuberance. A few ballads, but mainly, “To Walk on Water” goes “splash-splash-splash”; the wah-wah goes “oink-oink-oink”; jungles get smoked; ‘shrooms tattooed. On feet far too bare for Caracas, so (as tended to happen all over, in 1969), this leads nowhere. But “nowhere” still translates as “Utopia” in Ladies W.C., and also rat here!

Check for Hysteria, Bear Tamers Music, and Ladies W.C. Umphrey’s McGee play Irving Plaza December 10.