Joe GransingerSaturday,9 February 2013

The Snap:

Experimental indie-pop psych-rock group Unknown Mortal Orchestra released their generically named sophomore album “II this past week. The fuzzy-sounding band also pushed out a video for “So Good at Being in Trouble,” a single from their latest album.

The Download:

While the Facebook page of the Portland-based band only describes their genre as “PSYCH,” believe me – Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a lot more than that. With influences ranging from Wu Tang Clan to Jimi Hendrix to Led Zeppelin to Stevie Wonder, they are all over the place. But, in a good way.

The self-titled debut album put UMO on the map in 2011 with promising songs such as “Ffunny Ffriends,” “How Can U Luv Me?” and “Thought Ballune”. There’s no denying the influences of classic psych-rock bands in this collection, as most of the songs feature vocals and guitar riffs that could have came straight from the ‘70’s, with a slight modern twist. Their first album provides good music from beginning to end, and I’d recommend giving it a listen before having a crack at “II,” as the second album builds from the first quite nicely.

II” doesn’t put a completely new spin on UMO, which is by no means a bad thing. The majority of the album continues with the same, soft, soothing voice over intricately placed guitar riffs that again put a modern spin on a classic sound. A few songs, however, do dabble into the more experimental side of their indie-psych collaboration. “Dawn,” for example, is nothing but a spooky synth that seems to combine a 1980’s horror film scene with a corny intro of a VHS tape. However, for some reason, I kinda dig it. There are no vocals and it certainly doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album, but a strangely placed intermission from the usual sound isn’t always a bad thing, I suppose. “II” also occasionally drifts more towards indie-rock than its predecessor did with tracks like “Faded in the Morning,” which features an upbeat, fast-paced rhythm paired with the sailing vocals we’ve come to expect.

While UMO’s new album feels more like the second chapter of their first release, it provides very comfortable listening with a unique combination of classic psych-rock and modern indie. Both albums are available for listen on Spotify, and you won’t be disappointed by either one. And while UMO’s debut album took them from obscurity to a somewhat-known status, “II” is good enough to carry them even closer to the mainstream music scene.

And McLovin trying to save the girl from some drug-induced hippie cult makes for a pretty sweet music video, too.

Hat Tips:

UMO, Facebook, Image Credit: Flickr

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