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Lotus @ The Compound Grill

Let's face it. "Jamming" is little more than musician code for one great big circle jerk. Each player is just waiting for his solo, and that's cool, because being at the center of the circle so totally rocks. But when a jam session turns into a "jam band," it's a whole new thing. You have to manage to make it sound like you're not just trying to stroke each other's egos. If you do, you'll be at risk of never leaving the circle. That's painful for the band and the listener. Lotus gets it right — here's a band from Denver and Philadelphia that seamlessly blends electronic influences with funk (and, occasionally, Ron Burgundy-style "yazz flute.") It's something new, putting the group in the same lineage as Phish and The Grateful Dead. It's their spunk (um . . .) that keeps them relevant. Their latest record, a self-titled bit eight albums deep into their discography, dives into the more electronic side of the band's psychological id, bringing in hip-hop vocals to spice things up. It's that sort of tweak to the genre that keeps Lotus relevant, even when the jams get masturbatory.

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