Hearing Aide: String Cheese Incident ‘Believe’

Those crazy kids from Colorado are it again.  String Cheese Incident, one of the true pioneers of the modern jamband scene, has just released a feature length LP entitled Believe, their seventh studio produced LP and second with famed Talking Heads producer Jerry Harrison playing a prominent role.  Spawned from an intensive, full band writing session in Sedona, Arizona in 2014, the songs on this album range from simple and laid back to complex and intense, showing just how much of a range SCI can navigate through these days.

Things pop instantly on the first and title track “Believe” with a quite funky, techno-ish groove that snakes in and out of some glossed up vocals led by guitarist/violinist/string wizard Michael Kang.  “Sweet Spot” gives Keith Moseley a chance to shine on vocals on a feel good, simple number featuring his always steady bass play. One of the jewels of this recording is “My One and Only” which masterfully mixes the band’s rhythmic cohesiveness and heartfelt lyrics over a bed of pleasant violin and acoustic guitar before abruptly transitioning into an Irish folk dance ending of sorts, reminiscent of something from Riverdance.  Along with vocal support supplied by Elephant Revival’s Bonnie Paine, it’s no surprise this song is in constant rotation on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Jam On channel.  “Get Tight” is another one of those classic SCI songs that’s beautiful in its simplicity and catchy as all get out. Although it is very similar in nature to “Sweet Spot,” both songs elicit a relaxing, summertime vibe that would seem to fit perfectly in a first set when played live.  

The following track, “Stop Drop Roll,” quickly changes things up and represents one of the true “dance” tracks on the album with evident elements of Daft Punk and Talking Heads (see: Harrison, Jerry).  This one seems to be heavily influenced by the rhythm section of Michael Travis (drums) and Jason Hann (percussion) which would make sense as they comprise EOTO, an established EDM act that is no stranger to late night festival sets.  “Flying” is really the only track that gives guitarist and founding member Bill Nershi a chance to take center stage and has a somber yet airy feel to it. “So Much Fun” gives keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth a turn on lead vocals and has so much of an 80s pop rock classic feel to it that you almost expect Huey Lewis to jump in and sing a few bars.  And perhaps no other track on Believe serves as a better example of the band’s current sound than the last one, “Beautiful.”  Already well established in the live setting, this song meshes String Cheese Incident’s signature sound texturing and heartfelt, joyous, lyrics all while being powered by an infectious electronica-type groove.

Overall, this album does a nice job of keeping the listener engaged and mixing up different sounds and styles almost track to track.  It showcases the band’s musical chemistry that comes from decades of playing with one another and a simple yet heartfelt songwriting approach, serving as a great example of both the band’s history and their current sound.  This is a recommended purchase certainly for any SCI fan, but also for anyone who may be out of the loop and is curious what these rockers from the Rockies sound like today.

Key Tracks: My One and Only, Beautiful