The String Cheese Incident, diverse, talented, and definitely under appreciated. They get labeled Rock (Well, more specifically Jam Band), but they hardly sound it. There main genre is Bluegrass. Though doses of Jazz, Calypso, Afro Pop, Psychedelia, Rock, Blues and even Funk are commonly added in. Enough genres for them to label them selves as a "Funkalatino-Afro-jazzadelic Bluegrass" band. Oddly enough though, out of all those genres, they don't play any of them, the way they're supposed to be played. The music may be mixed, contain instruments that aren't aloud, break important rules, ect. Whatever it is, it's obvious that the album title, matches them perfectly.
Though formed in Colorado, few members of String Cheese were from there. Michael Kang was actually born in Korea. But each member some how got together and started playing there music deep inside the Rockies. Each member musical heritage is also greatly different, but somehow fuses well with the others. Whether it's Mike Kang's classically trained violin methods, Mike Travis' constant use of congas and various percussion instruments. Which are rarely/never used in Bluegrass. Or Bill Nershi's, hardly ever usage of an electric guitar, but yet Keith Moseley's almost always use of an electric bass. Anyway you put it, these four musicians (later on five), are one of the world's top improvisers, let alone Jam Bands.
A fabulous intro, showing off their main style perfectly. The song opens up with a main three chords progression, with Nershi and Kang rapidly adding in heavily catchy, guitar and mandolin interludes. Though the main focus is of course on the lead instruments, Travis keeps great timing, adds great percussion, and Keith puts out perfect bass lines. Keith's vocals also add a great element to the track. During the song, constant help is given by banjoist Tony Furtado, who not only adds rythm to the song, but also adds a great solo. The track should be easily likeable for someone who isn't that much of a Bluegrass fan. 5/5
Born on the Wrong Planet
Though kind of a misfit's anthem, the second track that would inspire the title is quite positive and happy. "Born on the Wrong Planet" mixes Jazz, and bits of Funk. The overall sense and feel to the song is fantastic. Blaring organ, powerful trumpet and sax playing, and beautiful female back up vocals all add much more to this song than what should be expected. Mike Kang sings the track with an inspirational tone, to compliment the rather inspirational lyrics. The song jams on for four minutes and fifty seconds, with many great solos. 5/5
Here is a more Psychedelic like, instrumental track. Though it does seem Irish influenced. The bass playing is what really stands out to me. It is not technical at all, but it adds such a back bone to a kind of thin song. Mike's mandolin playing leads the song with a line that gets rather annoying after awhile. The track also goes through many different tempo changes, but stays strong through each. "Land's End" is not necessarily a highlight track, but it's okay. 3/5
The Remington Ride
This is the best it gets in my opinion. A strait up Bluegrass song (minus light amount of percussion, and electric bass), with such energy. It is a cover, and one hell of a one it is. The song really shows their playing talent, their jamming talent, and their ability to flow well. Each member (minus Travis) gets a moment in the spotlight here. Tony Furtado adds in some amazing banjo playing, and Bill is absolutely amazing. I use many of the lines he plays in his solos on this track in some of my solos (I'm a thief). Mike Kangs gives both mandolin, and violin solos. Each fabulous. Especially his violin solo, which resembles one of Vassar Clements (Though I doubt any of you know who he is.). Even Keith throws in some interludes, which leads the song to it's end. Brilliant instrumental! 5/5
Finally a track filling the humorous quirky void that String Cheese is known for. This Country song is sang by Bill, and was written by Keith. The lyrics are rather humorous, and are a "Tongue and cheek to a modern day Renaissance man". The feels is rather lightened down, but extremely interesting. "He's a resume' man, he's a resume' man. If he can't do it, I don't know who can. It says right here he's qualified. Fifty years on the job, and the man's only fourty five :p" is the chorus, and is quite funny. Though the song does not hold up in every which way like "The Remington Ride" does, it is one of my favorite picks, and just enjoyable. 5/5
Elvis' Wild Ride
Here's a more Western song. It's kind of dark, but lightens up on the occasion. Some dijeridoo playing is oddly enough added to the mix. The track is like many songs off of Born on the Wrong Planet, an instrumental. And also, really has not one thing to do with Elvis Presley or any Elvis at that. The song is in no way a highlight, but it is quite an interesting song and change. 4/5
Bigger isn't Better
No, this song isn't about what you think it is. It is about small tourist towns, and how money and such cannot buy you happiness. The song is heavily Latin influenced, which is easily seen. The vocals are done by Bill, and the lyrics he wrote are pretty decent. I had never really liked their Latin stuff, and this is no real exception. The song is a great jam, includes everything a good one would. Other than the Latin, it does have a slightly Psychedelic sense, which is probably due to the Hammond organ playing, done by Paul Armstrong. Meh...2/5
Definitely an interesting song! The number is based upon the main line "Johnny Cash don't smoke hash". Which, I'm not sure is true, but it's irrelevant. The track opens with an interesting, twangy bass line. Soon enough Nershi gives some information "This songs about...Johnny Cash, and his close friend". The track then breaksdown, and heads into some lyrics. The lyrics are rather simple, but they fit the music good. The song has a more Country sense to it than any other genre. And is made interesting by it's various tempo changes, perfectly timed outburst, and of course many astounding solos. 5/5
Lester had a Coconut
"Lester had a Coconut" is very much Latin and Reggae influenced. Which are from two places where String Cheese surprising has a large fan base. The song has a quirky side to it, which is said to symbolize a infamous black sheep of a family that the writer knows. The fabulous flow of the percussion and the electric bass is what keeps me entertained and most definitely interested. And song is also an instrumental, if you hadn't known. Quite a change :) 4/5
An instrumental written by Michael Travis. The song has a Rusted Root resembling sound. It includes a great deal of percussion instruments, and players. The percussion is perfectly complimented by some nice flute playing, which doesn't play as much as a role as the flute does in Rusted Root. But of course, String Cheese is not Rusted Root. Many odd instruments, random items, were used to make this song. Some being bottle caps, mixing bowls, sporkus, flip digs, and realms. Intersting jam 3.9/5
This track opens with a great intro line by Nershi. It then slowly makes its way to another Latin song. It is much more rythmic and light though; much more listenable. The song is said to be about a close/slightly fiction brush in with the law at a Jazz Fest. A handful of lyrics like "Cabinets full of mushrooms", "You sure can drink a lot of beer", "I tried to get a girl inside. I even offered her some cash", "They found our little stash" explain a whole lot :p. Other than some great storytelling, the solos and overall playing could not be better. Everything just sounds great. 4.5/5
A perfect closer for Born on the Wrong Planet. Once again a storytelling based tune, but this one is a funk number. The lyrics are sang with such odd attitude by Bill. The lyrics are almost rapped, which is needless to say funny. Trumpet work, lead bass lines, organ work, and great beats make this song a one I commonly listen to. It's main line gives the depressed feeling the man in the story is feeling. "My brain is just a jellyfish in the ocean in my head, 'cause I drank to much tequila, and now I'm seeing red. And now all I really want from life, is to crawl back into bed, account of my brain is just a jellyfish in the ocean of my head.". So, overall quite an interesting song. 5/5
This album definitely deserves a 5/5, it is extremely consistent, and is just...different.