The String Cheese Incident

Outside Inside

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Jam bands get rapped for their apparent bipolar nature: Few can duplicate the energy of their live shows in the sterile environment of a studio. But on their third studio album, the String Cheese Incident proves they can do it inside or out. Outside Inside has nearly as much energy as their vaunted live show and captures the joy with which they play. It overflows with effervescence on almost all of the very different tracks. Perhaps credit is due to their new producer, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. The cuts on this album sound fuller and more energetic than their previous studio albums, Born on the Wrong Planet and Round the Wheel. Even compared to their last album, Carnival 99, a live collection, the album stands up well. The band certainly has no fear when it comes to throwing disparate musical genres together on a single album. On the ruckus roots-rocker "Outside and Inside," the band shows the influence of the mother of all jam bands, the Grateful Dead, without coming across as imitators or hacks. The band delves deftly into Southern rock on "Sing a New Song," with Bill Nershi's slide guitar setting the tone. Keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth leads the funky "Lost" with his Hammond organ and pulls off a respectable salsa jazz piano on "Latinissmo." They'd have been better off, however, avoiding the calypso-tinged "Search," which sounds like a Jimmy Buffet reject. With all these styles to chose from, the band seems to be moving away from the bluegrass jams that it has been known for, but the final track, "Up the Canyon," gives older fans some down-home accordion and mandolin sounds to groove to.

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