These guys remind me of Barenaked Ladies in that they have a serious and a humorous side.
Liked more of this than I expected.
Best was Bound Away.
Also liked Federal Funding, Long Time, What's Now Is Now and The Winter.
Just makes the buy mark.
Assuming the single is Sick Of You since there is a video.
You can listen to this album in our Weekly Album Review forum.
Grade - 1.7
released Jan 11th, 2011
from the album - Sick Of You - grade 1.5
from all music
Best-known for their ubiquitous hit "The Distance," Cake epitomized the postmodern, irony-drenched aesthetic of ‘90s geek-rock. Their sound freely mixed and matched pastiches of widely varying genres -- white-boy funk, hip-hop, country, new wave pop, jazz, college rock, and guitar rock -- with a particular delight in the clashes that resulted. Their songs were filled with lyrical non sequiturs, pop-culture references, and smirky satire, all delivered with bone-dry detachment by speak-singing frontman John McCrea. Cake's music most frequently earned comparisons to Soul Coughing and King Missile, but lacked the downtown New York artiness of those two predecessors; instead, Cake cultivated an image of average guys with no illusions or pretensions about their role as entertainers. At the same time, critics lambasted what they saw as a smugly superior attitude behind the band's habitual sarcasm. Perhaps there was something in Cake's doggedly spare, low-key presentation that amplified their ironic detachment even when they didn't intend it, but most reviewers pegged them as one-hit wonders after the success of "The Distance." Nonetheless, Cake managed a few more alternative-radio hits in the years that followed, while retaining largely the same approach. Cake was formed in Sacramento, California in 1992 by vocalist/songwriter John McCrea, who'd recently returned home after spending a few years in Los Angeles, unsuccessfully trying to break into the music business. The original lineup of Cake also featured guitarist Greg Brown, trumpeter Vince DiFiore, bassist Sean McFessel, and drummer Frank French; McFessel soon left to attend college, and was replaced by Gabe Nelson. In 1993, the band released their debut single, "Rock ‘n' Roll Lifestyle," on a local basis, and followed it with a self-produced, self-released, self-distributed album, Motorcade of Generosity. Motorcade found its way to the revived Capricorn label, which released the album nationally after Cake signed a contract with them. With the prospect of extensive national touring, both Gabe Nelson and Frank French left the band, and were replaced by bassist Victor Damiani and drummer Todd Roper. Re-released by Capricorn, "Rock ‘n' Roll Lifestyle" caught on at college radio in 1995, and was followed by two more singles, "Ruby Sees All," and "Jolene" (not the Dolly Parton song). Cake's second album, Fashion Nugget, was released in 1996 and spawned a breakout smash in the Greg Brown-penned "The Distance," which dominated alternative radio that fall, and even turned into an unlikely sporting-event anthem. Mostly on the strength of "The Distance," Fashion Nugget charted in the Top 40 and sold over a million copies. It also spun off a somewhat controversial follow-up single in a cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"; although the band professed its sincere admiration for the song, some critics and listeners took it as a smarmy put down, in part because of McCrea's dead pan vocals. In 1997, Greg Brown and Victor Damiani both left Cake and formed a new group, the new wave-influenced Deathray, which eventually released its debut album on Capricorn in 2000. Meanwhile, McCrea briefly considered putting Cake to rest, but brought original bassist Gabe Nelson back to replace Damiani. For Cake's next album, McCrea used a tag-team procession of guitarists -- five in all -- on different tracks; the result, Prolonging the Magic, was released in 1998. True to its sardonic title, it defied critical opinion to produce another big alternative-radio hit in "Never There," plus decently successful follow-ups in "Sheep Go to Heaven" and "Let Go." Prolonging the Magic sold nearly as well as Fashion Nugget, and was also certified platinum. For the supporting tour, one of the album's guitarists, Xan McCurdy, officially joined Cake full-time. In the spring of 2000, Cake signed a new deal with Columbia, and debuted in 2001 with their fourth overall album, Comfort Eagle, which became their highest-charting yet (at Number 13). The lead single "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" was a hit on alternative radio, and even earned some MTV airplay -- no longer an easy task for any artist -- with a video that featured reactions to the song by randomly selected people on the street. Following the completion of the album, drummer Todd Roper left the group to spend more time with his children, and was replaced on the supporting tour by Pete McNeal. Pressure Chief appeared in 2004. Redefining the meaning of independant, the band was by now recording in a studio powered entirely by solar energy, and free of the corporate involvement of even so much as a power bill, released Showroom of Compassion some six years later in 2011.
Willful eccentricity is something that demands a certain degree of commitment, and many bands that start out strikingly weird buckle under the pressure to maintain their curious image over the course of a long career. So Cake are to be commended for sticking to their oddball guns for close to 20 years; their sixth album (and first in six years), 2011's Showroom Of Compassion, still finds John McCrea writing like he's tossing off random thoughts as he struggles not to be overwhelmed by the voices in his head, and singing as if he's waiting for that grilled cheese sandwich he ordered to finally show up. And his backing musicians -- Vincent DiFiore on trumpet and keyboards, Xan McCurdy on guitar, Gabriel Nelson on bass and guitar, and a tag team of four drummers -- still cut a geeky but potent groove, delivering a funky undertow that's engaging but just off-kilter enough to match McCrea's vision. This might suggest Cake haven't grown or changed much during the long layoff between 2004's Pressure Chief and 2011's Showroom of Compassion, and in many respects, that's true, but the flatness of McCrea's vocal delivery sounds noticeably less smug this time out, and while his deadpan tone is as bent as ever, on a few of these songs he suggests some compassion might lurk in his heart, a welcome development to be sure. And while most of these tunes maintain the funky tone that's Cake's trademark, there's enough straightforward rock & roll and quirky pop (and even a dash of country) to keep the album from sounding too lamentably consistent. After paying oblique homage to Frank Sinatra in 1996's Fashion Nugget, here Cake actually cover one of Ol' Blue Eyes lesser-known tunes ("What's Now Is Now," from Sinatra's unjustly obscure concept album Watertown), and McCrea and company twist it to their own purposes without sounding as if they're ranking out on the original. And though it's as hard as ever to figure out just what Cake are on about on most of these tunes (especially on the dour but dramatic instrumental "Teenage Pregnancy,") "Sick of You" and "The Winter" are straightforward enough to offer a break from the irony. It's worth noting that after dealing with major labels since 1995, Cake have opted to release Showroom Of Compassion on their own label, and even recorded the whole thing in their own solar-powered recording studio; they're not just committing to their own weirdness, they're banking on it, and the results are good enough to suggest they're not so crazy to be investing in their own distaff vision of the world.
1 Federal Funding McCrea, McCurdy, Nelson 3:49
2 Long Time McCrea 4:35
3 Got to Move McCrea 3:40
4 What's Now Is Now Gaudio 3:37
5 Mustache Man (Wasted) McCrea, McCurdy, Nelson 4:04
6 Teenage Pregnancy McCrea 2:40
7 Sick of You McCrea, McCurdy 3:13
8 Easy to Crash McCrea 4:07
9 Bound Away McCrea, Nelson 3:24
10 The Winter McCrea 4:05
11 Italian Guy McCrea 3:10