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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CAKE: Showroom of Compassion

“It’s been a long time,
Since I’ve seen your smiling face.
It’s been a long time,
Since I’ve seen a su-u-u-u-u-u-unny day.”

Indeed it’s been a long time.

It’s been seven years since CAKE has released their last studio album, Pressure Chief.

Throughout the past 16 years, CAKE has remained one of my favorite bands despite consistently releasing inconsistent albums.

However even their albums that misfire still contain some absolute great material on them. Although I have all their albums, I once made a compilation disc in college of my favorite 20 CAKE songs from their first five albums and to this day it remains a disc that I cannot live without. (I’ve never done this for another band/artist.)

CAKE has always been an off-kiltered, unique band using a variety of instruments where vocalist John McCrea often talks rather than sings influenced by 60s rock and elements of hip-hop. They began their career (1994) when bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots were in their height of theirs.

In essence, CAKE was anti-grunge, and really, anti-any musical genre.

They were and remain their own genre using everything from electric guitars to trumpets, horns, keyboards and a variety of other instruments I’ve never heard of (The instrument list for Showroom of Compassion besides the basic drum, guitar and bass include: trumpet, keyboards, piano, euphonium, nord, synthesizer, rheem and bandalero.)

The band’s latest disc, Showroom of Compassion — released today — may actually be their most consistent album since Fashion Nugget, released in 1996.

The album starts off with a slightly disappointing opener in “Federal Funding” but is quickly followed up with arguably the two best tracks on the album, “Long Time” and “Got to Move.”

“Got To Move” may actually be one of the more melodic and catchy CAKE song in the band’s 16-year catalog.

The fourth track, “What’s Now is Now” is forgettable and the fifth track, “Mustache Man” is saved by a chorus (“I’ve was-ted, so much time.”) that will stay stuck in your head for days.

The sixth track,” Teenage Pregnancy” is a haunting, dark piano instrumental with various “yeahs” thrown out by McCrea during the portion of the song. Had the song had lyrics, it may have been the best track on the album.

“Sick of You,” the album’s first single is the next track and has caught on after multiple listens. I didn’t like it at first, but it has grown on me over time.

“Easy to Crash,” “Bound Away,” and “This Winter” are all above average songs, with “Easy to Crash” probably coming in as the third best track on the album. “This Winter” is the slowest song on the album and while the band often drifted into some dark material, rarely do they ever have slow songs.

The final song, “The Italian Guy” is a bit of a mystery. Not bad but not great and sort of a disappointing album closer.

Upon first listen of the album, I was disappointed after waiting seven years for a CAKE release, but after listening to it back and forth repeatedly for four straight days, not only has it grown on me, but I can safely say this is the band’s second best album behind Fashion Nugget.

By Nick Carrabine


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