Though this reviewer will always be dubious of any group embracing the "jam band" label and citing Phish first and foremost among its influences, he's just as quick to hail a band that can master the serpentine but nonetheless propulsive grooves of the best progressive rock or the otherworldly vibes of psychedelic greats, and there is as much Yes and Pink Floyd in the mix for the Stretch as there was in the earliest days of Trey Anastasio & Co., circa, say, "Lawn Boy" (1990).
Chicagoans Mike Rizman (guitar and vocals), Kevin Greene (keyboards and vocals), Dugan O'Keene (bass and vocals) and Brett Baxter (drums) have been making music together--and threatening to make the leap from the legions of bubbling-under jamsters to the national notoriety of an Umphrey's McGee--for several years now. They first surfaced and made their recorded debut under the god-awful name of Uncle Boogie Pants, but wisely changed it to their current moniker for recent gigs and copies of their strong D.I.Y. album, "Volume & Verse."
Rizman's interstellar-overdrive guitar and Greene's washes of ambient keyboards are the most interesting sonic hallmarks of the band on album, and if the rhythm section doesn't lose the plot or the pulse, the band could be spectacular onstage. It doesn't have any gigs listed at the moment on its Web site (http://thestretchmusic.com) or MySpace page (www.myspace.com/thestretchmusic) at the moment, but check back, and be sure to stream the tracks "Frequent Naps" and "Head the Space" when you do.