Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: CAKE- Showroom of Compassion

Buying this album at work was an odd experience. I'd come in just for it as Cake are one of my favorite bands. I'd been anticipating this album since last fall and when I saw them on New Year's Eve, it made me long for the album even more. At least two coworkers said "really, Cake are still around"? Yeah, they're still around and they really haven't changed a damn thing either. They're responsible for my favorite New Year's Eve ever and are a band that I've always enjoyed since I was young and saw the video for "Sheep Go To Heaven" on MTV. Though it's been seven years since their last proper album, they haven't missed a beat even if we missed them.

You know what a Cake song is right off the bat. John McCrea half sings/half talks, there's bitchin' guitar, and there's trumpets. The album has all this and like every album they've had, it has an awesome leading single in "Sick of You". "Sick of You" is classic Cake through and through complete with a chorus that's going to be fun for everyone to sing when they play your nearest music hall. And did I mention sing a long choruses and trumpets? Because "Long Time" will easily do the trick complete with its trip-hop beat done McCrea style.

"Federal Funding" is the album's first cut and is in a lo-fi demeanor, it would be the perfect Pavement song if you wouldn't be able to tell McCrea's voice, which is one of the most unforgettable in Alt Rock. "Mustache Man" should be the second single off this album as its pretty recognizable for the band and sounds very, very similar to first single "Sick of You". And there lies the problem with Cake's music sometimes.

Truthfully, they're not breaking any new ground here despite the claims that there would be "acoustic piano" and "reverb". Going to a lo-fi sound hasn't changed much with these guys, it still sounds like the same band who made "Comfort Eagle" or "Fashion Nugget". The album also builds a similar structure between a manic opener, first single in the middle, a vocal-less track (Teenage Pregnancy is one of the best songs they've put to tape), and two songs to close the album that should've been rearranged. But if it ain't broke don't fix it right? They've been doing it for 20 years, they shouldn't stop now.

"The Winter" is the second to last track on the LP and is probably the best song on the album. McCrea accompanies his personal (or as personal as he'll ever get) lyrics with piano to another trippy beat with awesome trumpet. Before that, we get "Bound Away", which I first heard on New Year's Eve which is almost as stellar as "The Winter", the horn section on this album sound like they could be mixed in with a Norteno band. It's easily the most smileriffic track on the album and boasts the best qualities and playing of the group itself.

Time will tell where Cake's place in rock history stands. They're as reliable as a rock band as you can find in the 21st century and keep making good albums and releasing good singles. It's hard to find a group who is this consistent. After a seven year wait for an album, it was worth it. No they're not changing the earth with their songs and they haven't broken any new ground, but the beauty of the band is that they don't have to, and that's pretty much why they've been successful and a band I'll always support.

**** out of *****

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