Jamband with loyal following stumbles in the studio
The Grateful Dead found it notoriously difficult to document their live magic in the studio. “You have to go to the shows, man,” they said, and they were right. With One Step Closer, String Cheese Incident faces a similar dilemma. They may be a jamband, but this isn’t a jam album, and the songs by themselves (though some toy with Middle Eastern rhythms and other exotica) are simply not strong enough to make me want to flick my lighter. Like Kings of Leon (whose own recent studio effort, Aha Shake Heartbreak, was similarly emasculated) String Cheese Incident needs room to stretch out. On songs like the appropriately entitled “Until the Music’s Over,” the group is just starting to build a groove when the darned thing fades out. It’s useful as an artifact of that really killer show, perhaps, but One Step Closer is no Workingman’s Dead and is ultimately forgettable as a standalone.