Although the band Lotus is one of the new additions to the SCIFidelity stable of bands, their label debut Hammerstrike in 2008 was actually their seventh release since their formation in 2002 in Goshen, Indiana at Goshen College (according to their Wikipedia article). With the label switch, Hammerstrike proved to be a refining and commitment to the more instrumental and unique sound that Lotus had started to drift towards in 2006 with The Strength of Weak Ties. If Umphrey’s McGee is a jamband with Prog Rock leanings, Lotus is a jamband with Post Rock leanings.
After Hammerstrike, the band continued their regimine of extensive touring pausing only to revisit some tracks for the album that either weren’t completed or the band didn’t feel fit. These tracks were completed and collected into two EP’s released in October– Oil on Glass and Feather on Wood. In addition to the eight new songs, they include three remixes of tracks from Hammerstrike.
On January 20th, 2009– Inauguration Day– Umphrey’s McGee will be releasing their next studio album, Mantis. According to their press release, Mantis is different from their last studio albums in that it is entirely new music written in the studio as opposed to songs that had been given workouts on the road. The band considers this the “centerpiece of a new era” and extending the notion of innovation, they have set up a unique pre-order for Mantis.
So, hang tight– this gets a bit complicated. I have done my pre-order already, and recommend that if you’re interested you do, too. Here is the shizzle:
First, there are three versions of Mantis. In addition to the CD and mp3 versions you’d expect, the band is pressing a very limited number of 180g LP’s! That’s right! VINYL! The vinyl is included in the Deluxe Package which includes a CD and mp3 download plus other goodies.
The CD version of the album is will be the “key” to unlocking exclusive bonus content that the band will be providing throughout the year through Push Entertainmentincluding live versions of the Mantis songs, rehearsals and impromptu “bus jams” and more. This content– referred to as “Bonus Part II” will be available to anyone who buys the album either as a pre-order or after the release date.
As if that isn’t cool enough, anyone who pre-orders the album in either CD format (for $19.99) or as part of the Deluxe Package ($49.99) will have access to “Bonus Part I.” This is where it gets interesting. If you pre-order the album, you will get a free download of the album in mp3 format to make sure everyone who pre-orders can listen to the album on its release date in case there are unpredictable mailing delays. In addition to that, the band will be making available up to 8 Levels of bonus material encoded as 160Kbps mp3’s that will be available on January 20th as well. The number of levels made available will be based on how many pre-orders are placed of either of the versions. Pre-orders were taken starting October 27th, and as of 11/5, five of the eight levels are unlocked. The special Mantis page has a progress bar at the top of the page that shows how many levels are unlocked and floats a box with what is included in each level. On December 4th Level 1 will be available for download to all who pre-order.
Anyone who pre-orders will also receive a lifetime subscription to the digital edition of Relix Magazine, and be entered in a drawing for a “RelixBand” which is a bracelet made from guitar strings from Jake and Brendan used in a live performance.
When the pre-order opened, there was initially only going to be 500 of the Deluxe Package, but they sold out in TWO DAYS! So, the band increased the number to 1000. At this moment, there appear to still be some available for order. The Deluxe Package has a bunch of great content, and totally worth $50. You get the CD of Mantis, the mp3 download, the 180g vinyl, a special DVD of the 10th Anniversary Retrospective that was shown at last years’ New Year’s Eve shows plus some other video content, a Mantis poster plus other goodies from UMHQ all in a box signed by the band! Apparently, every box will have slightly different extra goodies added by the band themselves.
Here are the levels for the pre-order Bonus. The band scoured the Internet boards to see what rare content was most in demand, so that determined what they’ve included. As cool as the pop-up boxes on the website are, I’ve decided to type it up here, and I will be updating this as the new levels are added, so check back or subscribe to updates on this article to stay up-to-date.
Level 1(8 tracks total, and available in December to pre-orders) unlocked
1 track from Greatest Hits Vol. III – The long out-of-print first record selected via a fan poll.
4 tracks from annual Acoustic Christmas Show 2005
2 tracks from Jake Cinniger’s home studio 4-track archives -One track you’re likely to recognize and one you’re not.
1 track from inside the studio control room during an album tracking session – Fly on the wall perspective.
Level 2 (8 tracks total) unlocked
1 track from ‘beat guru’ Andy Farag -Andy often spends his spare time cooking up a variety of hip-hop and r&b beats that are rarely released for public consumption.
Jake’s original demo version of feature track ‘Made to Measure’ with different lyrics. Long before this song evolved into its current state, Jake sang about the joys of man’s best friend.
‘Made to Measure’ alternate take with scratch vocals.
2 acoustic tracks from the soundtrack The Trip There written and performed by Brendan Bayliss.
2 ‘Solo’ audio stems from the title track “Mantis” – Hear instruments and vocal arrangements of this track with everything else stripped away, a microscopic view inside a dense Umphrey’s composition.
1 potential album cut that was ultimately left unfinished.
Level 3 (7 tracks total) unlocked
2 control room montage tracks – Experience what it’s like to be a fly on the wall inside the control room of our studio. Hear songs come to life (or be put to death) as the recording process unfolds.
3 tracks from UM sound checks – “What songs are we going to screw up if we don’t practice them?”
Early sketch version of album track #4.
4-track studio version of the song EAT, recorded in Jake’s home studio.
Level 4 (7 tracks total) unlocked
‘Dance Remix’ of album track 5 from Andy Farag
‘Work in Progress’ track – Listen to the conception of album track number 7 from an improvisation during a live show. Follow it through adolescence and beyond!
4 tracks from Acoustic Christmas 2006.
‘Birth of a Song’ – Listen as an album cut is constructed, deconstructed, written, rewritten, tweaked, and birthed from recordings taken from basement tapes, pre-production writing sessions and ‘Grammy take’ sessions.
Level 5 (8 tracks total) unlocked (as of 11/5)
2 live tracks from the mythic ‘Taper Appreciation Nights’ at Shank Hall, Milwaukee, WI
2 tracks from Jake Cinninger’s home studio 4-track archives.
Early demo version of album track #6
Mistake Montage – Listen to the less glamorous side of being in the studio with UM.
2 ‘Solo’ audio stems from album track #4 – Hear various instruments and vocal arrangements of this track with everything else stripped away.
Level 6 (8 Tracks total) unlocked (as of 11/16)
“Radio” edit of an album track
“Work in Progress” – Listen to the conception of album track #9 from an improvisation during a live show. Follow it through adolescence and beyond!
Early 4-track versions of track #7 including Jake’s first scratch version from 1994. Yes kids, 1994.
3 tracks from the Acoustic Christmas Show 2005.
Time Relevant Track – The original solo guitar audio that became “Wizard Burial Ground” recorded during album brainstorming sessions.
Level 7 (7 Tracks Total) unlocked (as of 12/11)
‘Birth of a Song’ – Listen as an album cut is constructed, deconstructed, written, rewritten, tweaked, and birthed from recordings taken from basement tapes, pre-production writing sessions, and ‘Grammy take’ sessions.
2 alternate versions of Jake’s guitar solo from album track #6. Listen to the options we sorted through before deciding on this monstrosity.
Umphrey’s Round Table Pt. 1 – A discussion of all things Mantis.
2 tracks of solo grand piano from Joel’s Holiday show in 2006
Early rough version of the title track ‘Mantis’ recorded in Joel’s attic in early 2007.
‘Puncle Wally’ – Video the lone performance at historic CBGB’s in NYC.
1 track of solo grand piano from Joel’s Holiday show in 2005
2 tracks from Joel, Jake & Andy from Joel’s Holiday show in 2006
Mantis Ghetts – Just wait and see. Guaranteed to please!
1 track from the mythic ‘Taper Appreciation Nights’ at Shank Hall, Milwaukee, WI
Unreleased track from the Acoustic Planet Tour ’06 featuring Bela Fleck
2 tracks from Acoustic Christmas 2008
Level 9 (1 Track + Video + 1 Live Set) Unocked (as of 1/7/09) A new level added after 8 unlocked to drive more presales!
FOH Jam – Video from the soundboard jam on 12/31/07
Early scratch version of album track 1348
Entire set from the 1/19/09 CD Release show at the Vic Theatre
I have to say that in the last year since I became aware of Umphrey’s McGee, one thing I have been really impressed with is how they’ve embraced new avenues for keeping the fans up-to-date and providing content as well. They have had regular podcasts with interesting songs from shows, their site provides RSS feeds, the band as well as their soundman regularly blog with photos, you can purchase every show, they allow taping and trading as well. They have also implemented an interesting TXT service via kadoink that sends updates to your cell phone and provides the ability for the band to send recorded messages and music to your phone. This new approach to releasing an album is just another step. It’s clear that Umphrey’s McGee understands their fanbase and seems to cater to them. The Mantis website has an embedded player that is getting updated daily with recent live tracks and has an embedded chat tool as well that the band seems to check.
Click Here to visit the Mantis Website and pre-order Mantis. While you’re there sign up for updates from UM, and be entered into a contest for the “Ultimate Umphrey’s Package.” The grand prize is tickets to any and all 2009 UM shows, a signed copy of Mantis and a signed lithograph of the Mantis artwork, ten first prizes are tickets to three shows and the signed album and litho, and ten second prizes are a signed Mantis and litho.
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