sci-osc.jpgString Cheese Incident
One Step Closer

© 2005 SCI Fidelity Records
The first thing I thought of when I started listening to the new String Cheese Incident album was “Oh great, here comes String Cheese Incident again with some weird-ass album…” I thought Untying the Not was a really weird album, and I still never really picked it up as a standard listen on my iPod. One Step Closer is different. In the good way. Once I got through listening to it for the 5000th time, I determined that I was ready for my review. It’s time.

My song-by-song notes were compiled from many, many commutes to and from The Loop. Excuse any broken, thought fragments that I might have had. I’ll try and close the loop on any as I transcribe…

1. Give Me the Love (Kang, Barlow, Burn) 3:33 – Headphones–check. Newly-ripped copy of One Step Closer–check. Tie slightly untied to prevent commuter sweating–check. First 30 seconds–oh man, I doubt I’m going to like this album. Next 30 seconds–oh man, it’s not getting any better. 1:22–BOOM! The anthem-like tune begins with a great half-time beat over the emotional acoustics, and the song no longer disappoints.

2. Sometimes a River (Moseley, Sheaffer) 5:20 – Whereas UTN was very weird and nonsensical at times, this is the first sign of the standard SCI that I’m familiar with. I like the Moseley songs on the album; I’m not sure how and what he really used to write, but these are welcome additions to the album.

3. Big Compromise (Nershi, Lauderdale) 4:26 – The only thing that really gets me about this album is how every (most) songs seem to deal with compromise. Growing pains. Disagreement. It’s like, they wanted to pretend like they had overcome these huge hurdles to make this album, whereas any standard, jamband fan like me wouldn’t have paid attention. Did the addition of their percussionist really cause that much strife in the band? Are too many heads really better than one? I don’t get it.

4. Until the Music’s Over (Moseley, Sheaffer, Burn) 4:47 – To me, much catchier and more solid than Sometimes a River.

5. Silence in Your Head (Hollingsworth, Burn) 3:40 – Slow, emotional SCI, and the first we’ve heard from Kyle. A little boring for me, but overall not a bad song.

6. Farther (Nershi, Lauderdale) 4:00 – Acoustic bluegrass comes back.

7. Drive (SCI, Barlow) 3:53 – I like the vocal tradeoffs on the tune, and I definitely dig the “…never even got to the show!” line.

8. Betray the Dark (Kang) 2:28 – Good transition tune on the record, and I was impressed by the bridge that it brings to the tracks.

9. 45th of November (Hollingsworth, Hunter) 4:26 – The beginning of my favorite part of the disc, this has got to be one of Kyle’s strongest tunes. Again, more compromise here. Yeah, we get it. You’re in a band and you guys disagree sometimes.

10. One Step Closer (Nershi) 3:30 – Title track and solid, drum-circle groove–not a bad combo. I think this is Nershi’s strongest on the album, and I’m glad he stays away from his “talk-singing” so noticable on The Big Compromise.

11. Rainbow Serpent (Travis, Grigorova) 3:57 – Honestly, I love this tune even though Adam doesn’t. To me, this is the scary groove that I love so much. It has a very Phish Undermind sort of sound…

12. Swampy Waters (Travis, Grigorova) 4:58 – SCI goes rockabilly? Yeah, I don’t know either. Cool, shuffle groove with some dirty vocals…

13. Brand New Start (Moseley, Lauderdale) 4:12 – Another Moseley tune, and I have to say that it’s obvious who stepped up the most in the writing department.

Overall, and really overall, I enjoy this album immensely. It has a great flow and I believe that this will be the future of String Cheese Incident. The album is clearly more accessible than their previous, and that is a good thing to me.

The album is going to drop on June 28, so go out and pick up your copy then. You’ll like it. You might not be listening to the String Cheese Incident that you used to, but you’ll definitely have to get over that. Who knows, you might even love Rainbow Serpent like me.