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Totally different

Umphrey's McGee's star continues to rise, as the Chicago outfit follows its triumphant 2006 studio album "Safety in Numbers" with "The Bottom Half," a twin-disc collection of B-sides and tunes that just plain wouldn't fit within the time constraints of "Safety."

It's hardly a surprise that "The Bottom Half" stands strongly as a record in its own right, for Umphrey's seems to be sitting atop a well of ideas that is far from running dry. Ambitious, bizarre, progressive, virtuosic and unexpected -- everything that Umphrey's does well is burned onto "The Bottom Half."

That said, the concert stage is the group's true domain, and listeners can verify that suggestion for themselves by visiting and scrolling through a library of podcasts housed there. If that gets you in the mood, stop by the Town Ballroom, 681 Main St., at 7 p.m. Thursday. Tickets for the show are available now at the Town Ballroom box office or through They're $18 in advance and $20 on the day of the show.

-- Jeff Miers

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